Academy Award host Jimmy Kimmel offered his own version of the now infamous events at the 89th Oscar ceremony on Monday’s edition of “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” The line that sticks:
“Clyde threw Bonnie under the bus ...” He was referring to presenter Warren Beatty’s handoff of the envelope to co-presenter Faye Dunaway, who was then left to make sense of it herself. Accounting giant PricewaterhouseCooper took a sharper line in blaming itself late Monday for the best picture mix-up that ended Sunday’s show and plunged the telecast into chaos.
Kimmel also explained what had happened to him during the commotion: “I’m sitting in the audience, watching the speeches (because) the plan for me was to end the show in the seat next to Matt Damon ... but I was sitting there and noticed some commotion, and Matt said, ‘I heard the stage manager say I think we got the winner wrong ...’ So, the host will go on stage and clear things up. Then I remembered, ‘oh, I’m the host.”
On stage, he said that from the chaos of the scrum, he heard Denzel Washington below yelling “Barry, Barry,” and Kimmel realized he was referring to Barry Jenkins, director of “Moonlight,” who was just behind the host. So Kimmel then brought him to the mic to offer a few quick words.
“Thank God Denzel was there to make sense ...”
Kimmel noted that the funny thing -- and it is funny -- was that as people were leaving the stage, a few asked whether he had played a prank. Logical idea certainly, because this is Jimmy Kimmel after all. He said on Monday’s “JKL” that if he had punked the whole ceremony, “I wouldn’t have just had the wrong winner’s name on the envelope, but when they opened it, it would’ve had a Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon ...”
In a statement, PWC said, “PwC takes full responsibility for the series of mistakes and breaches of established protocols during last night’s Oscars,” the statement said, which then named names:
“PwC partner Brian Cullinan mistakenly handed the backup envelope for actress in a leading role instead of the envelope for best picture to presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Once the error occurred, protocols for correcting it were not followed through quickly enough by Mr. Cullinan or his partner.”
The partner PwC was referring to is Martha Ruiz, the other PwC accountant who worked the left side of the Dolby Theatre stage Sunday while Cullinan worked the right. Both Cullinan and Ruiz had duplicate envelopes of the winners -- 24 in total -- but somehow Cullinan’s duplicate of the Emma Stone envelope ended up in Beatty’s hands.
The statement effectively confirmed what was already known by late Monday -- that somehow Cullinan had given out the wrong envelope. PwC’s first statement early Monday morning had offered an apology, while adding that an investigation was underway.
While PWC said “breaches of protocol” had been made, it was unclear what those were. For example, many observers wondered Monday why it had taken a full two minutes for the mistake to be corrected, when both Cullinan and Ruiz were just offstage.
But in interviews before the telecast, Cullinan had said that in the event of a mix-up, they were instructed to find the stage manager who would then make the correction himself. The stage manager was seen moving hurriedly among the “La La Land” producers, apparently looking for the correct envelope.
That raised a further possibility: Perhaps Cullinan had accidentally handed out both the best picture envelope and a duplicate of his best actress one.
PWC did not offer a timetable for when the investigation would be completed.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences -- which confirmed to the press that it had launched its own investigation -- offered its own statement, which reads in part,
“For the last 83 years, the Academy has entrusted PwC to handle the critical tabulation process, including the accurate delivery of results. PwC has taken full responsibility for the breaches of established protocols that took place during the ceremony. We have spent last night and today investigating the circumstances, and will determine what actions are appropriate going forward. We are unwaveringly committed to upholding the integrity of the Oscars and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.”