The two accountants at the centre of Sunday's Oscars Best Picture debacle have been given protection after receiving death threats on social media. Accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers was forced to step up security outside the homes of Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz after the unprecedented mix-up led to La La Land being announced as the winner of the top prize instead of Barry Jenkins' Moonlight.
PwC spokeswoman Carey Bodenheimer confirmed yesterday (2 March) that the shamed pair – who counted the votes and also personally handed the envelopes to each award presenter moments before they walked on stage – had been given bodyguards after their home addresses and photos of their families were published in the media.
On the biggest night in showbiz, presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, were handed the back-up envelope for best actress in a leading role. Broadcast live to millions across the globe, the toe-curling moment dubbed "envelopegate" has been described as the biggest blunder in 89 years of Academy Awards history.
News of their security detail comes hours after the Academy confirmed that they will not be employed to do the job again, adding that PWC's long-running association with the Oscars is also under review.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs told AP that "the last 90 seconds" of the telecast overshadowed "the most brilliant and wonderful show" but vowed that changes would be made.
"By now, thanks to the non-stop coverage the past few days, we all know that the wrong envelope and the problems that ensued were caused by the failure of PwC's accountants to follow established protocols and their delay in immediately remedying the situation. PwC has accepted full responsibility for the error. Rest assured changes will be implemented to ensure this never happens again."
Meanwhile, Oscar show stage manager Gary Natoli has revealed further details about the moment it all went wrong, saying that Cullinan and Ruiz froze backstage when the best picture announcement was made. "We watched for about 10 more seconds, and during that entire time, Martha was no more than five feet away from us," he told The Wrap.
"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 memorized the winners."