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“They froze”

Earlier this week, PricewaterhouseCoopers announced that the accountants involved in last weekend’s Oscars mistake would no longer be working on the show. This led some in my Twitter feed to wonder why both were being taken off the business when it seemed clear that Brian Cullinan (and not his partner in crime, Martha Ruiz) was solely to blame for the mixup.

Steve Pond, writing for The Wrap, has some further clarification on this point. It seems it was both of their responsibility to intervene with the live show in the event of an error. That did not happen:

Because [Stage manager Gary] Natoli was no longer in the wings near Ruiz, he radioed another stage manager to find Ruiz and have her open the second Best Picture envelope. “She was standing there with the envelope in her hand, very low-key,” he said of Ruiz. “And John Esposito said that Brian was very low-key too, no urgency. But we had Martha open the envelope, and it said ‘Moonlight.’”

Natoli said he immediately told the stage managers in the wings, “Get the accountants out there!” But he said both Cullinan and Ruiz hesitated. “John was trying to get Brian to go on stage, and he wouldn’t go,” he said. “And Martha wouldn’t go. We had to push them on stage, which was just shocking to me.”

As I’ve stated on the /Filmcast, I can’t really judge anyone in that situation for how they behaved in an unprecedented situation. That being said, for a live show with this many people watching, it’s prudent to have gatekeepers who are disposed to action:

“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.”