Man who handed out wrong Oscar card was told not to tweet during show

To tweet or not to tweet? That has become the question.

All eyes are suddenly on PricewaterhouseCoopersaccountant Brian Cullinan, who mistakenly handed the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway just before the epic bungling of the Oscars best picture announcement Sunday. Moments prior, Cullinan tweeted a backstage photo of Emma Stone

Was that a breach of protocol?

Yes, USA TODAY has learned. PwC's public relations team was told in advance what Cullinan’s media protocol could be for the day, according to a person familiar with the situation but unauthorized to speak publicly about it.

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Cullinan was permitted to tweet up until he arrived to the red carpet – say, getting into the car with his secure briefcase. But once Cullinan was on site, he was asked to refrain from social media until the broadcast ended.
That has led many to wonder if Cullinan was distracted during a crucial telecast moment.

What we do know is that PwC has taken responsibility for the flub, which left confused La La Land producers onstage thanking the academy when really, the prize belonged to Moonlight.

Here's how the worst flub in Oscar history went down

PwC called the mistake "a human error" saying Cullinan, a managing partner at the firm (and an Oscars show veteran who has shared photos on Twitter during the telecast in the past), "handed the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty," mistakenly subbing in Stone's spare best actress card, which had already been given out on the other side of the stage (PwC prints two sets).

Still, questions persist about how that was possible, given the history of care those envelopes are given backstage. It's brought increased attention to Cullinan's Twitter account, and the now-deleted smiling photo of Stone holding her award backstage around 9:05 p.m PT, minutes before the gaffe heard 'round the world.

Journalists are also prohibited from tweeting photos from backstage.

PwC declined to comment for this story.

Academy apologizes for Oscars best picture fiasco, vows 'action'

The status of the academy's 83-year relationship with the accounting firm after the mix-up remains unclear. Late Monday, the academy released a statement apologizing to those involved and vowing to "determine what actions are appropriate going forward."

"We are unwaveringly committed to upholding the integrity of the Oscars," the academy statement concluded.

(© 2017 USA TODAY)


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