People everywhere began wondering as to why both the accountants were fired for the incident, even though one was the only one responsible.
PwC accountant Brian Cullinan gave Warren Beatty a wrong envelope last Sunday night during the 2017 Oscars, which resulted in presenters announcing the wrong movie as the winner of best picture award.
The Academy then decided not to continue employing both Cullinan and colleague Martha Ruiz in future ceremonies, which led to many questioning why she had also been punished.
Gary Natoli said to “The Wrap” both of the accountants were equally responsible in the events of that evening, and that she had failed to intervene.
“I was in the wings stage left with Jimmy [Kimmel] when they announced La La Land,” he said.
“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 said that, prior to the ceremony, he specifically said to the two that they were to get onto the stage “immediately” in the case that a wrong winner was announced.
Hesitation and Mistake
“Brian had done an interview where he was asked about it, so he came up to John [Esposito, another stage manager] 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.'”
Natoli also described his version of what occurred that evening.
“I heard John Esposito on my headset say, ‘Brian says he didn’t think they said the right winner. Can you have Martha check her envelope?’
“That was the first time I heard anything about it.”
He sent a radio call to another stage manager in orer to find Ruiz to open her best picture envelope.
“[Ruiz] was standing there with the envelope in her hand, very low-key, 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 described how he told the stage managers to “Get the accountants out there”, but both Cullinan and Ruiz supposedly hesitated.
“John was trying to get Brian to go on stage, and he wouldn’t go,” he stated. “And Martha wouldn’t go. We had to push them on stage, which was just shocking to me.”
“I still do not understand the delay,” he included. “Brian should have run out there on his own. Martha should have run out there.
“I didn’t get on the headset and say, ‘Hey, producers, this is what’s happening. What do we do?’ We took our own initiative and got it done – and if we hadn’t done that, we could have been off the air before it was fixed. I’m proud of the way that we handled it, given the lack of response from PwC.”
Natoli also stated that the recent redesign of the Oscar’s envelopes with smaller font contributed to that evening’s error.
“I’m sure they’re very lovely people, but they just didn’t have the disposition for this,” Natoli stated. “You need somebody who’s going to be confident and unafraid.”