Oscars 2017: New, even more damning details emerge about the envelope gaffe

'I’m sure they’re very lovely people, but they just didn’t have the disposition for this. You need somebody who’s going to be confident and unafraid'

Clarisse Loughrey
Thursday 02 March 2017 15:13
Oscars 2017: Watch the La La Land-Moonlight Best Picture error in full

It might just be the greatest moment in Oscars history - for all the wrong reasons.

The ceremony saw presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly name La La Land the Best Picture winner - instead of real winner Moonlight - after being handed the wrong envelope, though eagle-eyed viewers soon noticed that the envelope Beatty was handed was, in fact, labelled 'Actress in a Leading Role', which itself went to La La Land's Emma Stone.

Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, who for 83 years have been in charge of keeping the secrecy around the night's winners, keep the envelopes used in the ceremony locked in two identical briefcases - featuring two identical sets of envelopes, handled by employees Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz.

PwC released a statement explaining Cullinan mistakenly handed the back-up Best Actress envelope instead of Best Picture, which many have speculated was due to Cullinan being distracted tweeting.

Academy President Cheryl Isaacs Boone has since stated both Cullinan and Ruiz will not be working any future Oscars; unsurprising, considering even more damning details have since emerged.

Gary Natoli, a veteran Oscars stage manager, told TheWrap that he and another stage manager, John Eposito, had had a conversation a mere day before the Oscars as to what should happen if the wrong winner is announced.

Oscars 2017 in 90 seconds

“We don’t usually talk about that,” Natoli explained. “But I guess Brian had done an interview where he was asked about it, so he came up to John and me and told us that in the interview, he said, ‘Well, we would tell the stage managers and check with each other and react.’ And then he said to us, ‘Is that what we do?’"

“I said, ‘If you know who the winner is, you don’t need to check with each other. You need to immediately go out and rectify the situation, ideally before the wrong winners get to the mic.’ And he said, ‘OK, good, that’s what we thought.'”

He also broke down what happened following the mistaken declaration of La La Land as Best Picture: "I was in the wings stage left with Jimmy [Kimmel] when they announced La La Land. We watched for about 10 more seconds, and during that entire time Martha was no more than five feet away from us. When La La Land was announced, she did not try to get my attention, she did not say anything. And she’s supposed to have memorised the winners.”

Natoli and Kimmel then headed right past Ruiz towards the lobby, so the host could end the show with a bit sat next to Matt Damon; which is when his colleague Eposito contacted him on the headset to tell him that Cullinan had revealed he wasn't sure the right winner had been announced, with Natoli immediately radioing another colleague to get Ruiz to check her second envelope containing the Best Picture winner.

When it was revealed the second envelope named Moonlight the Best Picture winner, Natoli then told the stage managers in the wings to get both accountants onto the stage but, "John was trying to get Brian to go on stage, and he wouldn’t go. And Martha wouldn’t go. We had to push them on stage, which was just shocking to me."

"I’m sure they’re very lovely people, but they just didn’t have the disposition for this," he added. "You need somebody who’s going to be confident and unafraid."

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments