Oscar Rules

It’s officially Oscar season! To prepare for Hollywood’s big, self-congratulatory night, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the consulting service that handles the envelopes containing the names of the official Academy Award Winners, have implemented a new set of rules to help avoid a repeat of last year’s embarrassing Moonlight/La La Land mix-up.

Last year’s Academy Awards were memorable not so much for the films that won, but rather for the unprecedented goof that occurred at the end of the evening. In case you’ve forgotten, since it seems like it happened approximately ten thousand years ago, Bonnie and Clyde stars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway took the stage to announce the winner of Best Picture. But someone backstage handed Beatty and Dunaway the wrong envelope. Rather than the envelope containing the real Best Picture winner, what Beatty and Dunaway had was an envelope announcing Emma Stone as Best Actress of La La Land. After the envelope was opened, Beatty and Dunaway floundered, realizing something was amiss. Dunaway caught sight of La La Land on the card within the envelope, and promptly announced the Damien Chazelle musical as the winner. But there was a problem: La La Land was not the Best Picture winner – Moonlight was. By the time the mistake had been realized, the cast and filmmakers behind La La Land had already taken the stage. The rest is Oscar history. Here, watch a video of the moment and try not to cringe!

In a new AP storyTim Ryan, U.S. chairman and senior partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), discusses the infamous mix-up, and reveals new rules that have been put in place to prevent it from every happening again. “One of the most disappointing things to me was all the great work that had been done, not only last year but over the last 83 years, around accuracy, confidentiality integrity of that process,” Ryan says in the AP story. “And where we got it wrong was on the handing over of the envelope.”

The piece then goes on to lay out the new rules that will ensure such a goof never happens again, including:

— The addition of a third balloting partner, who will sit with Oscar producers in the show’s control room. Just like the balloting partners stationed on either side of the Dolby Theatre stage, this person will have a complete set of winners’ envelopes and commit the winners to memory. “Think of it as a safety control,” Ryan said.

— The two partners who worked on last year’s Academy Awards have been replaced, though Ryan confirms that both still work for PwC. The new stage-side partners overseeing the envelopes will include Rick Rosas, who previously worked in that post for 14 years, and colleague Kimberly Bourdon from the company’s Los Angeles office.

— A new formal procedure is in place for when envelopes are handed over. Both the celebrity presenter and a stage manager will confirm that they’ve been given the correct envelope for the category they are about to present. (Last year’s gaffe occurred when the PwC representative accidentally gave presenters the envelope for best actress rather than best picture.)

— All three balloting partners will attend show rehearsals and practice what to do if something goes wrong. “Because, as you’re well aware, it took a long time to respond last year when there was a mistake that we made,” Ryan said. “So we’re formally practicing the what-ifs.”

– The final change is one the academy immediately instituted last year: PwC partners are prohibited from using cellphones or social media during the show.

So there you have it. Don’t expect a repeat of the Moonlight/La La Land fiasco this year. That doesn’t mean an entirely new set of mistakes won’t happen, of course. The Academy Awards will air March 4, 2018.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: