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Oscars fiasco accountants ‘wanted to appear in ceremony’

PricewaterhouseCoopers accountant Brian Cullinan, named as the person responsible for handing Warren Beatty the wrong envelope at Oscars ceremony, was distracted by tweeting backstage before the best picture award announcement and even wanted to make an on-stage appearance himself, it has been claimed.

According to Variety, Cullanin had pitched an idea to the show’s producers involving him and fellow PwC accountant Martha Ruiz “interacting” with host Jimmy Kimmel. Variety say the idea was “shot down”.

However, the accountancy firm says that Cullanin did not want to perform a sketch, but was looking for a way to counteract a joke made at their expense at the 2016 ceremony, in which host Chris Rock brought three children on stage.

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“It is standard protocol for PwC to have conversations with the show’s producers about the firm’s involvement in the show,” PwC said in a statement. “After last year’s sketch when the firm was cast in a defamatory way in front of millions of people, Brian Cullinan spoke with the producers to ensure that the firm would not be cast in the same light. Brian did not want to perform a sketch during the show.”

Variety also published a series of photographs taken backstage that appear to show Cullanin distracted by the activity around him. He tweeted a picture of best actress winner Emma Stone moments before Beatty went on stage to announce the best picture award. Cullanin is shown to have been holding two envelopes, and the assumption is that the wrong one was given to Beatty.

Cullanin and Ruiz have been provided with security guards after their home addresses were published on the internet.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has followed up the Academy’s public apology for the fiasco and decision to drop Cullanin and Ruiz from future Oscar shows. She sent an email to all Academy members promising “changes … [to] ensure this never happens again”. In the email, she refers to the “rather chaotic ending of the show” and cites “the failure of PwC’s accountants to follow established protocols and their delay in remedying the situation” as being responsible for the blunder.