…up to and including the very end…

Feb 27, 2017 | 0 comments


For the first time in memory, we watched the Oscars from beginning to end last night.  It was the best show ever.  Jimmy Kimmel was spot on.  The recipients were spot on.  The parachuting candy, cookies and donuts were inspired, and the busload of wide-eyed tourists was a fabulous touch.  Right up until the end, the entire show was perfect.

And then… confusion, a mis-announcement, a hurried (but too late) correction and I, for one, was left feeling completely deflated.  How in the world could Warren Beatty have received the wrong envelope?  And how could he not have noticed that it had been opened before?  Or had it?  Perhaps it was the duplicate of Emma Stone’s previously announced win – the envelope that is “held in abeyance” just in case.

Just as I remember from the earliest Oscar ceremonies that I listened to on the radio – ‘before the advent of television’ as we used to point out – the accounting firm, Pricewaterhouse (now PwCoopers) is in charge of security. Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, two partners at PwC, are the ones responsible for tallying the votes of the more than 7,000 member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. They not only count and tally the votes, they also make out the certificates, prepare the red envelopes and bring them in two identical, locked briefcases to the Oscar ceremony.

Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan of PwC

The process they undergo to ensure the names of the 24 winners don’t get out before the ceremony is arduous and, during the show itself, Ruiz and Cullinan stand just off-stage on either side and hand the respective envelopes to presenters just before they walk on stage.  So what in the world happened to cause such a screw-up?

I went to bed last night – probably like a gazillion others – with mixed emotions.  Mostly, I felt sorry for the crew of “La La Land” and thought that they were amazingly gracious about the whole thing.  I can’t imagine feeling so overjoyed, so confused, and so let-down – all within minutes and on camera!  An award-winning bit of improv theater on all their parts for sure!

Oscar Host Jimmy Kimmel

And… sure enough!  This morning I see that PwC is taking full responsibility.  Warren Beatty was mistakenly handed Emma Stone’s best actress duplicate red envelope.  (Emma Stone still had the original.)  In a process that is designed to be foolproof and has worked for the past sixty-seven years, how could there be such a screw-up?

The answer, my friends, is that shit happens.  Even in the world of magical glitz and glam.  If nothing else, it will be an evening long remembered right down to its improbably anti-climactic finish.  I commend every one of the actors – all winners in my book!  Jimmy Kimmel was right – why can’t they all have Oscars?


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