- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

An accountant in charge of securing the envelopes at the Academy Awards was tweeting backstage moments before the historic foul-up Sunday evening when “La Land Land” was erroneously declared the Best Picture winner for 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported in Tuesday’s print edition.

“Just minutes before he gave Mr. [Warren] Beatty the wrong envelope, Brian Cullinan, one of two PwC [PricewaterhouseCoopers] partners working backstage at the show, tweeted a glamorous photo of” Emma Stone, who had just won the Oscar for Best Actress for her leading role in “La La Land,” the Journal noted.

Mr. Cullinan’s tweet was time-stamped 9:05 p.m. Pacific time, the Journal said, just minutes before Hollywood legends Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway took to the stage to unveil the Best Picture winner.

Whether or not Mr. Cullinan’s social-media use proved to be the distraction that caused the infamous mix-up whereby Ms. Dunaway announced “La La Land” as the year’s best picture or not, it appears he had not been authorized to tweet on the job in the first place.

“He’d sought permission to post to social media during the show, but had been turned down,” the Journal said, citing an unnamed source. 

It remains unclear why it took so long to clear up the mistake Sunday night.

The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday noted that “[i]t took two minutes and 25 seconds from when Dunaway said the name of the film to when [“La La Land” producer Jordan] Horowitz said Moonlight was the real winner, an eternity under such circumstances.”

A corporate attorney told THR that it’s quite possible the Academy may hold back some of the money it owes PwC as punishment for the embarrassing error.

“The contract could have spelled out the duties of PricewaterhouseCoopers including an obligation to present the right results,” attorney Devin McRae of the Los Angeles-based law firm Early Sullivan said, the THR reported. “They’ve been doing this so long, they might have developed a contract that’s really detailed. 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.’ “

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