Following the biggest blunder in Oscar history during Sunday’s awards, when presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway presented best picture to the wrong movie, you would think heads would roll. But that could turn out to be complex.
The misstep happened because a person in charge of holding winning envelopes handed Beatty the wrong card.
The accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which audits the voting for the Oscars and handles its ballots and envelopes, and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences have been working together for 83 years. As The Hollywood Reporter points out, the firm does more than oversee Oscar voting tabulations. PwC is also in charge of many accounting duties for the Academy.
And according to lawyers who spoke to THR, the Academy likely won’t be suing PwC, though they could argue that the firm breached a duty of care.
“They have been doing this so long, they might have developed a contract that’s really detailed,” Devin McRae, a litigator at Early Sullivan, told the publication. “The Academy might attempt to get a price break, telling PwC, ‘You have to take a hit. This is the worst possible error you can make.'”
The only way this scenario would likely go to court is if both parties couldn’t agree on financial compensation, according to THR’s reporting.
The Wall Street Journal broke the news that PwC partner Brian Cullinan was the one who handed Beatty the incorrect envelope for the best picture category. The story points out that he may have been distracted, as minutes before Beatty presented, he tweeted a photo from backstage of Emma Stone clutching her best-actress Oscar for her performance in “La La Land.”
Beatty and Dunaway went onstage with a duplicate copy of the best-actress envelope and announced that “La La Land” was the best-picture winner, instead of the rightful winner, “Moonlight.” A stage manager had to come out while the “La La Land” producers were already giving their acceptance speeches to hand off the correct card.
PwC issued a statement Monday night taking full responsibility for the mistake.
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