30 Mar 2017

Academy to keep firm that screwed up Oscars

10:55 am on 30 March 2017

The accountancy firm behind the biggest blunder in Oscar history is staying in the picture.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced it will retain the services of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) despite a backstage envelope mix-up that led to the wrong film being announced the winner of the best picture Oscar last month.

But a third accountant will be added to the PwC staff on the Oscars night and backstage tweeting, photos and posting to other social media will be banned.

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announced La La Land as the winner of the Best Picture Oscar before the mistake was uncovered.

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announced La La Land had won the best picture Oscar before Moonlight was revealed as the real winner. Photo: AFP

"After a thorough review, including an extensive presentation of revised protocols and ambitious controls, the Board has decided to continue working with PwC," Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs wrote on Wednesday (local time) in a letter to Academy members that was made available to the media.

Ms Boone Isaacs added that the Academy had been "unsparing in our assessment that the mistake made by representatives of the firm was unacceptable."

The unprecedented mishap led to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway declaring musical La La Land the winner. The film's producers and cast celebrated and started acceptance speeches on the stage before Moonlight was named the real winner of the night's top prize.

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La La Land's producers and cast celebrated and started acceptance speeches before the film's producer Jordan Horowitz was made aware of the mistake and held up the correct winner's card naming Moonlight as the real victor. Photo: AFP

Ms Boone Isaacs called it "the most extraordinary and memorable Oscars ceremony in decades."

PwC, which has overseen Oscar balloting for 83 years, took full responsibility for the gaffe, which stunned the A-list audience in Hollywood and millions watching on television.

PwC quickly removed the two accountants responsible from further involvement in the Academy Awards and carried out a review of its procedures.

Starting next year, Ms Boone Isaacs said PwC will place a third accountant in the Oscars show control room, who will be able immediately to notify the director should a mistake be made.

All accountants will have to hand over their phones and other electronic devices before going backstage, she said.

That decision followed news that one of the accountants involved in the 26 February blunder had been taking photos backstage with celebrities and posting them on Twitter during the ceremony.

Other new measures include closer checks of the winner envelopes on stage and rehearsals with the accountants ahead of the Oscar ceremony, Ms Boone Isaacs said.

PwC on Wednesday confirmed its services were being retained by the Academy but offered no further comments.

- Reuters

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