PricewaterhouseCoopers took the blame last night for the unforgettable moment when La La Land was mistakenly named Best Picture instead of Moonlight. Now, the accounting firm that oversees the voting, adds that the gaffe was “a humor error.”
While La La Land producer Marc Platt was giving his acceptance speech, PricewaterhouseCoopers Brian Cullinan and Martha L. Ruiz, who were in charge of the envelopes and had a duplicate set of the 24 winners in their briefcases, took the stage with the show’s producers to correct the Best Picture error.
“At the end of the day we made a human error,” Tim Ryan, U.S. chairman and senior partner of PWC, told USA Today on Monday morning. “We made a mistake. What happened was, our partner on the left side of the stage, Brian Cullinan, he handed the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty. And then the second we realized that we notified the appropriate parties and corrected the mistake.”
“We apologize to the cast of La La Land for having to have made those speeches in the time that it took to [correct it],” Ryan stated. “Immediately when it was announced, again, because of our mistake, both our partners who knew who the winner was — and they’re the only two who know — they realized the mistake had been made and they began to notify the appropriate people.”
The blunder was something that could have been avoided if the partner had been paying more attention to the envelope that was handed out. Cullinan and Ruiz hand each envelope directly to the presenter in each category from stage right or left, memorize every winner, and are the only ones who know who the winners are.
“It was a little chaotic and just took time to get out onstage and let people know that the mistake was made. And unfortunately that took enough time to get through two-and-a-half acceptance speeches,” Ryan added.
“I have spoken with the Academy and expressed our apologies and accountability, and I am in the process of reaching out to the other affected parties,” Ryan said. “That has not happened yet, but I am in the process of doing that.”