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And the winner isn't: Oscar mix-up prompts new safeguards from Academy

academy awards oscar mix up reaction mixup 2017
Disney | ABC Television Group/Flickr
The 89th Academy Awards will forever be remembered as the Oscars with the Best Picture debacle. One unfortunate moment stole the show — an envelope mix-up that led to La La Land mistakenly being announced as the Best Picture winner instead of Moonlight. The chaos and confusion that ensued ended up overshadowing all other high points of the night.

Needless to say, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences does not want a repeat of that fiasco. To prevent such mistakes at future shows, the organization has come up with several new policies aimed at improving the process backstage, Variety reports. The Academy and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm that has long handled balloting, worked on the changes together.

In the wake of the February 26 incident, the accounting firm took the blame, explaining that one of its two accountants in charge of handing out envelopes to presenters had accidentally given the incorrect one to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. The accountant in question, Brian Cullinan, came under fire after photos from the event showed he had been tweeting not long before making the error. He gave Beatty the envelope for Best Actress, which had just been awarded, and Dunaway subsequently read it as naming La La Land the winner.

Given that Cullinan’s phone may have been a distraction, PricewaterhouseCoopers’s accountants won’t be allowed to have electronic devices backstage next year. There will also be three PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants on hand instead of two, with one situated in the control room to quickly inform the show’s director of any mistakes. Additionally, the envelopes will be designed to make categories more easily identifiable.

The changes should hopefully restore the Academy’s faith in the accounting firm, but accountants Cullinan and Martha Ruiz won’t get a second chance backstage. Instead, Rick Rosas of PricewaterhouseCoopers, an Oscar veteran, will return along with two others. Rosas was in charge of balloting for more than a decade, from 2002 to 2014.

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