If Hollywood was run like Russia and a Vladimir Putin-like figure was the big cheese, PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Brian Cullinan — the guy who fucked up by slipping Warren Beatty the wrong envelope (Best Actress instead of Best Picture) — would already be gone. I don’t know if Cullinan and Academy bigwigs met on Monday to assess the damage, but if they had two ape-sized goons would have stormed in and thrown a bag over Cullinan’s head and dragged him out of the room.
Obviously we don’t live under a Russian strongman and yet Cullinan was harshly dealt with this morning by a smoking-gun Variety article — a Moscow Central timeline piece with exclusive photos and reported/written by Lawrence Yee, Stuart Oldham and Jacob Bryant.
The long-haired person hugging Warren Beatty is Manchester By The Sea‘s Casey Affleck.
The photos and a corresponding timeline show that Cullinan had two envelopes in his hand (along with his cell phone) just prior to handing Beatty what Cullinan thought was the envelope containing the winner of the Best Picture Oscar but which was actually an envelope containing the winner of the Best Actress Oscar (i.e., La La Land‘s Emma Stone), which had been handed out moments earlier.
From the Variety article: “The newly uncovered photographs not only show Cullinan engaged on his phone shortly before the La La Land miscommunication — he’s also photographed mixing two red envelopes backstage alongside Beatty and Best Actor winner Casey Affleck, who had just exited the stage.
“This would dispute PWC’s official explanation that Cullinan grabbed the wrong envelope from a ‘backup pile,’ and shows he was likely always in possession of both the Best Actress envelope (which was given to Beatty) and the Best Picture envelope, the night’s two final awards.
“In [Variety’s] exclusive images, Cullinan can be seen on his mobile phone at 9:04 p.m. PST, according to the metadata on the photographer’s camera (his Emma Stone tweet was posted at 9:05 p.m. and later deleted). Meanwhile Beatty and Dunaway had taken the stage at 9:03 p.m., putting the PWC executive on social media at the start of Beatty and Dunaway’s presentation.”
In other words, as Beatty and Dunaway were struggling on-camera with the meaning of an envelope card that said “Emma Stone, La La Land“, Cullinan — no doubt having concluded that the show was essentially over and that his PwC duties had been satisfied — was tweeting his Emma Stone photo.
The mistaken Best Picture announcement (i.e., Dunaway announcing that the winner was La La Land) may have happened just before Cullinan’s tweet or just after or right at the exact same moment, but the bottom line is that he had disengaged from the proceedings and wasn’t on the stick.
That’s it — game over. Right now Cullinan is probably wishing he lived under a Putin-style regime. That way his elimination would at least be sudden and swift.
Update: Cullinan and Martha L. Ruiz, his PwC partner/colleague who also worked backstage during last Sunday’s Oscar telecast, have been permanently deep-sixed as far as participating in any future Oscar shows is concerned.