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Fired by the Academy

Bungling PWC accountants will NOT be back at the Oscars as new photos show bean-counter Brian juggling multiple envelopes AND his phone while gawking at Emma Stone

By Chris Spargo From Daily Mail UK

Backstage photos from the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles show Pricewaterhouse Coopers accountant Brian Cullinan gawking at Emma Stone
He can be seen staring at a monitor while she accepts the Actress in a Leading Role prize for La La Land while ignoring Warren Beatty, who is next to him
In Cullinan’s hand are a jumble of envelopes and his phone, just seconds before he hands the wrong one off to Beatty
Cullinan is later seen ignoring the monitor while Beatty and Faye Dunaway are flubbing the Best Picture winner and busy on his phone tweeting her photo
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced Wednesday that Cullinan and his co-worker Martha Ruiz had been fired from working any future telecasts
Cullinan rehearsed the ceremony so it is unclear why he was holding the Actress envelope since he knew he would not be responsible for that category

New photos from backstage at the Academy Awards on Sunday show the accountant charged with handing out envelopes to the presenters at the ceremony captivated by the appearance of Emma Stone, and ignoring Warren Beatty.

Brian Cullinan of PricewaterhouseCoopers can be seen glued to a television monitor broadcasting Stone’s acceptance speech for Actress in a Leading Role while holding multiple envelopes and his phone.

Everyone else in the room is looking at Warren Beatty in the photo, who at that moment was hugging Casey Affleck after his Actor in a Leading Role win for Manchester by the Sea.

Cullinan then handed off the wrong envelope to Beatty, but while the Bonnie & Clyde actor was blundering on stage with Faye Dunaway the accountant was completely oblivious to what was going on because he was too busy tweeting his picture of Stone.

A photo shows the entire backstage crew and production staff with their eyes glued to the monitor, and Cullinan typing away on his phone.

This is why it was announced by Academy president Cheryl Boone Issacs on Wednesday that Cullinan and his co-worker Martha Ruiz had been fired from their posts and barred from working any future Oscar ceremonies.

It is unclear why Cullinan was even holding the Leading Actress envelop as the accountants rehearse the ceremony and he would have been aware that he was not responsible for handing off that award.

Furthermore, the self-proclaimed Mat Damon look-alike may have been eager to quickly get his photo of Stone because he knew he had only once chance since she would not be part of the team that won Best Picture and therefore only backstage at that moment.

Checking it twice: Cullinan was seen looking at a program that clearly spelled out what envelopes he needed to hand out and when

Cullinan shared an image of Stone after she won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role which had a time stamp of 9:05pm on Sunday.

‘Best Actress Emma Stone backstage!’ he wrote to his followers, adding the hashtag ‘PwC’ – a firm no-no in the eyes of the Academy which ‘highly discourages’ taking photographs of stars backstage or posting on social media, a source who was also working at the event told

A look back at Sunday night’s telecast reveals that the picture was posted on Twitter by Cullinan two minutes after Beatty and his Bonnie & Clyde co-star Faye Dunaway took the stage at the Dolby Theater at 9:03pm to present the last award of the night.

The two said a few brief words and then threw to the clip package featuring the nine nominees in the category.

At 9:05pm Beatty opened the envelope for Best Picture, with his first response after pulling out the card being to look inside for a second card and then appearing confused by what he was looking at.

He stalled for a bit and then showed the card to Faye Dunaway, who at 9:07pm declared La La Land the winner, an announcement that brought the producers and cast of the film to the stage, including Stone who entered from backstage where Cullinan had just taken her picture.

It was not until 9:10pm that Cullinan could be seen racing out from backstage to fix the situation however, and Moonlight was not revealed as the actual Best Picture winner until 9:13pm that night.

The stage manager who witnessed Cullinan hand the wrong envelope to the stars, Debbie Williams, said in an interview with Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain that soon after La La Land was declared the winner in the category, the startled accountant stated: ‘It’s the wrong answer, it’s the wrong answer, it’s not that movie.’

Thomas said that Cullinan did not rush out at that moment however and instead began to check with fellow accountant Martha Ruiz, with the two trying to figure out the situation.

‘It seemed to us to take a very long time,’ said Thomas.

Cullinan, who enthusiastically posed for selfies and on the red carpet earlier in the night, later deleted the post of Stone.

In an interview before the show got underway, he told Australian show Studio Ten there was a ‘a lot of pressure’ not to get it wrong.

‘It’s a lot of pressure but it’s also a lot of fun. This is a great night to be a part of.’

PwC took ownership of the catastrophic mistake on Monday, issuing a statement to say it had ‘failed’ the Academy.

‘Once the error occurred, protocols for correcting it were not followed through quickly enough by Mr. Cullinan or his partner,’ said the financial firm.

The company has been trusted with handling the Oscar ballots for 82 years and is no doubt reeling from Cullinan’s mistake.

Dunaway hastily declared La La Land the winner of the Best Picture after Beatty stalled in confusion, having been handed a duplicate of the Actress in a Leading Role envelope.

As the film’s producers accepted the win on behalf of the crew with Stone and Ryan Gosling behind him, Cullinan and other aides scuttled around them on stage before the disaster was revealed to the audience.

The same all-access cameras captured the glorious moment the cast and crew of Moonlight, the rightful winners, realized their victory.

Actors Trevante Rhodes and Mahershala Ali hugged in stunned celebration while director Barry Jenkins held his hand to his face in disbelief.

Almost as taken aback was Shirley MacLaine who, watching from her seat in the audience, stood open-mouthed as they walked to the stage to collect their prize.

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs summed up the botched award presentation as ‘horror’.

‘I just thought, “What? What?” I looked out and I saw a member of Pricewaterhouse coming on the stage, and I was, like, “Oh, no, what—what’s happening? What what WHAT? What could possibly…?”

‘And then I just thought, “Oh, my God, how does this happen?” How. Does. This. Happen.” And it was such a wonderful show,’ she told The New Yorker afterwards.

Stone was quick to clear up that she had no part to play in the blunder.

‘I also was holding my best actress in a leading role card that entire time,’ said Stone backstage.

‘I don’t mean to start stuff, but whatever story that was – I had that card.’

It was only Cullinan’s fourth Oscar ceremony, and he was stationed at the stage right entrance used by Beatty and his Bonnie & Clyde co-star Faye Dunaway when they walked out to present the award for Best Picture at the ceremony.

It seems to be his favorite perk of the job, that and the many interviews and television appearances it comes with, photos of which he frequently posts on social media.

In addition to his Oscar duties, Cullinan is a US Board Member at PwC and Managing Partner for the Southern California, Nevada and Arizona Markets – and according to the company, a Matt Damon lookalike.

In the past four years, Cullinan has managed to snap photos with a number of A-list celebrities at the Oscars, and happily shares the photos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Among the celebs he has posed with are Oprah Winfrey, Matt Damon, Chrissy Teigen.

Cullinan has also taken backstage shots of a number of stars, including Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara and Kate Winslet at the 2016 ceremony.

Cullinan spoke about his job in an interview with his Cornell alumni magazine a few years back, raving about the celebrity access it affords him and telling a story about how Samuel L. Jackson has a photo of him on his cell phone.

‘Everyone who goes out [on stage], you’re hanging out with right before,’ said Cullinan.

‘I was standing next to and chit-chatting—it’s mostly small talk—with Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Garner, Kate Hudson, Goldie Hawn, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Bette Midler, Matthew McConaughey. To see all those people in the course of about an hour—it’s a unique spot to be in.’

PwC earlier issued a statement to confirm he was responsible for the mistake.

‘The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.

‘We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.’


La la land: Backstage photos from the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles show Pricewaterhouse Coopers accountant Brian Cullinan gawking at Emma Stone on a monitor (right) while ignoring Warren Beatty (left hugging Casey Affleck)

Too many choices: In Cullinan’s hand are a jumble of envelopes and his phone, just seconds before he hands the wrong one off to Beatty

Seduced by Stone: Cullinan is later seen ignoring the monitor while Beatty and Faye Dunaway are flubbing the Best Picture winner and busy on his phone tweeting Stone’s photo

Ship adrift: Cullinan (right) was again seen keeping his distance from Beatty before he went out on stage

Dynamic duo: Accountants Martha Ruiz and Cullinan have been fired from all future Oscars telecasts (on the red carpet)

Cullinan tweeting

Emma Stone

The objects of their affection: Cullinan stares at his phone (left); Stone stares at her Oscar (right)

Entrance: Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway took the stage holding the wrong envelope at 9:03pm (above) to introduce the Best Picture clip package

Starstruck: Cullinan tweeted this photograph of Stone backstage at 9:05pm, the same time that Beatty was opening the wrong envelope

Giving it a go: At 9:05pm Beatty opened the envelope to announce the Best Picture winner (above), but was delayed in revealing the winner because of his confusion

Selfie time: Brian Cullinan (left with Oprah Winfrey in 2015, right with Matt Damon in 2016) is the PricewaterhouseCoopers accountant who handed off the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty at Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony

Deep delay: Cullinan did not run out on stage to try and remedy the situation until 9:10pm (Cullinan above on left with Martha Ruiz of PricewaterhouseCoopers)

Cullinan and Oprah

Cullinan remained on stage while the Moonlight cast began to come up and accept the award that was rightfully theirs, standing by Ruiz.

He then exited with the cast and was seen returning backstage just behind one of the stars of the film, Janalae Monae.

Cullinan then appeared to quickly flee the scene, as he was nowhere to be found while the rest of the cast and Beatty filed in after the shocking moment.

Beatty can be seen on the backstage camera at one point apologizing to Moonlight director Barry Jenkins before saying: ‘That’s one of the strangest things that’s ever happened to me.’

Previously released backstage footage from the awards telecast on Sunday also shows that Cullinan may have been more focused on taking that picture of Stone than checking to see that he had handed off the correct envelope.

After winning the prize for Actress in a Leading Role, Stone is seen being escorted backstage by presenter Leonardo DiCaprio, where she is greeted by a throng of eager photographers.

The actress poses for a few seconds with DiCaprio before then moving on to give her publicist Holly Shakoor a hug, the person she would later hand over her envelope to when she had to return to the stage minutes later.

From there she hugs Actor in a Leading Role winner Casey Affleck and last year’s winner in her category Brie Larson.

That moment goes on for close to 20 seconds and almost brings Stone to tears, with her friend coming up behind her and surprising the star before they embrace.

At the same time the stage is being set for Beatty and Dunaway to make their entrance, and the backstage stream then switches cameras to show the audience.

There is only one minute however between the time Stone and Larson break away from their hug to when Beatty and Dunaway hit the stage, making it unclear if Cullinan took his photo just before the stars went out or while they were out in front of the audience.

All-access footage shows the moments before the Oscars Best Picture Gaffe when Emma Stone returns

Unreal: Moonlight director Barry Jenkins held his hand to his mouth in disbelief while stars Trevante Rhodes and Mahershala Ali looked on stunned

Worth the wait: Jenkins, producer Adele Romanski, Naomi Harris, Trevante Rhodes and Mahershala Ali wore matching looks of disbelief as they approached the stage

Emotional moment: Mahershala Ali and Naomi Harris couldn’t mask their bewilderment as they made their way to the stage

Shirley MacLaine was almost as shocked as the Moonlight cast as they emerged as the rightful winners

Surprise: Shirley MacLaine (left) was almost as shocked as the Moonlight cast (Trevante Rhodes on left, Andre Holland on right) as they emerged the rightful winners

The beginning of the end: Warren Beatty entered from stage right and can be seen walking to the podium holding an envelope that clearly said ‘Actress in a Leading Role’ (above)

Cullinan emerged on stage with the right envelope moments later as stunned PwC aides looked on

Not good: Ruiz and Cullinan look on after handing the correct envelope to Beatty, who reportedly refused to hand it over to stage manager Gary Natoli (center)

Ryan Golsing

Stone in shock

Disbelief: Ryan Gosling (left) and Emma Stone (right) could be seen on stage as they learned about the mistake (above)

Rough night: Cullinan (above in 2015 with Matthew McConaughey) is stationed at one of the entrances to the stage to hand out the envelope announcing the winner in each category

Sofia Vergara

Reese Witherspoon and Kate Winslet

Paparazzi: In addition to posing for photos with celebs when he can, Cullinan also snaps backstage pics of some stars (Sofia Vergara left in 2015, Reese Witherspoon and Kate Winslet right)

Big deal: Cullinan posted grabs from his Fox News interview over the weekend (above)

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