PricewaterhouseCoopers further explains Oscars best picture gaffe

"At the end of the day, we made a human error," a PWC senior partner said.

ByABC News
February 27, 2017, 4:28 PM

— -- A PricewaterhouseCoopers senior partner today shed more light on the "human error" that he said was to blame for what happened last night at the Oscars regarding the best picture announcement, singling out the partner responsible for the mistake.

Tim Ryan, the U.S. chairman and senior partner of PWC, further explained the gaffe, in which presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were given the wrong envelope, leading to her naming "La La Land" the winner before things were corrected and "Moonlight" was declared best picture.

"At the end of the day, we made a human error," Ryan told USA Today. "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."

Cullinan was part of a two-person PWC team — along with Martha Ruiz — that holds the envelopes containing cards printed with the winners' names for the show. PricewaterhouseCoopers makes two cards for each category, according to a 2016 interview with Ruiz and Cullinan. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hosts the Oscars, has not yet commented on the incident.

Beatty made a similar claim shortly after the mix-up became apparent, explaining to the audience that the card he had read, "Emma Stone, 'La La Land.'" Shortly before the best picture announcement, Stone picked up the best actress trophy for her role in "La La Land."

In the USA Today interview, Ryan said, "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. 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."

His new comments echo the company's apology after the snafu.

"We sincerely apologize to 'Moonlight,' 'La La Land,' Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for best picture," PWC said in a statement shortly after the ceremony. "The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and, when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened and deeply regret that this occurred. We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the academy, ABC and [host] Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation."

Kimmel, who was hosting the ceremony for the first time, did his best to make light of the situation onstage, saying, "I blame myself for this." Afterward, though, he told ABC station KABC that he was not at fault.

"I do want to say, just for the record, that I had nothing to do with whatever happened there at the end," he said.

Addressing reporters at the Oscars after the snafu, Stone said she was excited for the cast and crew of "Moonlight" because the movie is "one of the best films of all time." However, she expressed confusion about the mix-up, because, she noted, "I also was holding my best actress in a leading role card that entire time."

"I don't mean to start stuff, but whatever story that was, I had that card, so I'm not sure what happened," she said.

Related Topics