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PwC wins reprieve for role at Oscars

PwC has managed to save its position overseeing the prizegiving at the Oscars ceremony, following a humiliating blunder by two employees last month that led to the wrong film being declared Best Picture.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had opened a review into the role of the accountancy firm, which has been in charge of the Oscars ballot since 1934, after Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were handed the wrong envelope and mistakenly announced La La Land as the winner instead of Moonlight.

On Wednesday the body said that it would retain the services of PwC, which has overseen Oscar voting for 83 years, but with different employees and a ban on the use of electronic devices backstage.

In a message to Academy members following a board meeting on Wednesday, president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said they had been “unsparing in our assessment that the mistake made by representatives of the firm was unacceptable”.

Ms Boone Isaacs said: “From the night of the ceremony through today, PwC has taken full responsibility for the mistake.

“After a thorough review, including an extensive presentation of revised protocols and ambitious controls, the board has decided to continue working with PwC.”

She said Tim Ryan, PwC US chairman, would now take a “greater oversight role” at future ceremonies.

The two PwC partners who worked at the 2017 ceremony, Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan, who was responsible for handing the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty, had already been barred by the Academy from future ceremonies.

Mr Cullinan’s use of social media and smartphone has been cited as a factor in the confusion backstage.

He had tweeted a picture, now deleted, of best actress winner Emma Stone in the minutes before he was due to hand Mr Beatty the envelope containing the best picture winner. Footage subsequently showed that the actor was holding the envelope for best actress.

The producers of La La Land were already partway through their acceptance speeches before they were interrupted and Moonlight declared the correct winner. PwC said after the mistake that it took full responsibility for the incident and apologised to those caught up in the blunder.

Via FT