Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, the two PricewaterhouseCooper partners responsible for the Moonlight–La La Land Best Picture error at the 2017 Oscars, are dealing with serious ramifications from the incident, including death threats.
A spokesperson for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences confirmed to Entertainment Tonight on Wednesday (Mar. 1, 2017) that Cullinan and Ruiz will be prohibited from working another Oscars ceremony and that the Academy’s relationship with PwC remains under review. Cullinan has been identified as the person who handed Warren Beatty the wrong envelope and received backlash for tweeting a photo of Emma Stone holding her Best Actress statuette right before the Best Picture Oscars was announced.
Despite their ban from participating in future broadcasts, Cullinan and Ruiz will remain partners at the accounting firm.
The Oscars’ stage manager Gary Natoli told TheWrap that Cullinan and Ruiz “froze” when it became evident that something was wrong.
“I’m sure they’re very lovely people, but they just didn’t have the disposition for this,” Natoli said. “You need somebody who’s going to be confident and unafraid.”
Natoli recalled that he and stage manager John Esposito had a fortuitous conversation with Cullinan about what the protocol would be if a wrong winner was ever announced.
“We don’t usually talk about that, 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.’”
“When La La Land was announced, [Ruiz] did not try to get my attention, she did not say anything. And she’s supposed to have memorized the winners,” he said, explaining Ruiz and Cullinan did not react or step into action to rectify the situation. When Natoli ordered the stagehands to push the accountants on stage, neither one of them would go.
“We had to push them on stage, which was just shocking to me,” he added.
TMZ reports that Ruiz and Cullinan have both hired security guards to protect themselves and their families due to the death threats that have been made against them on social media.
Meanwhile, the Rio cinema in London pranked a Moonlight audience by playing a few seconds of La La Land instead.
“It wasn’t the actual feature film, but a few seconds from a teaser trailer,” the manager of the theater told Time Out London. “Then we shut it down, and did a bit of fumbling to make it look like we made a mistake.”