How to prevent another Oscar flub? We have ideas

In rather dramatic fashion, ‘Moonlight’ was crowned Best Picture at the 2017 Oscars. ‘La La Land’ was originally announced the winner.


The great Oscar fail of 2017 is three days past, the mortification and mocking are receding (somewhat), and the grownups in charge of the Academy Awards are promising to prevent such a catastrophic error from ever recurring. How? We have some ideas.

Not to be buttinskies, but think of it as a public service. After all, it’s not like the Academy or its accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers have done such a bang-up job given the debacle at Sunday’s Oscar ceremony, when the wrong best picture winner was announced and it took a long two-plus minutes before it was corrected in a shambolic scene of on-stage confusion witnessed live by millions.

PwC’s on-scene representative, Brian Cullinan, has taken the blame: He gave presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway the wrong envelope — it was the back-up envelope for best actress instead of the best picture envelope — and neither Cullinan nor Beatty noticed the blood-red envelope said BEST ACTRESS instead of BEST PICTURE until Beatty opened it and appeared flummoxed by the contents. Instead of asking for clarification, he handed it to Dunaway, who looked at it and said, “La La Land.” Wrong. The real winner was Moonlight.

No one wants to see that ever again. So why not try some simple fixes?

First, set the scene: The only two people in the theater who know the names of the winners in the envelopes are the two PwC accountants, one on stage left, one on stage right, each with a briefcase containing a set of all the winning envelopes (plus some granola bars). Their job is to hand the correct envelope to the correct presenters, depending on whether they are entering the stage from the left or the right. The unused envelopes on each side of the stage are supposed to stay with the accountants.

The Oscar whisperers

This one’s sort of a no-brainer. Why can’t the accountants on each side, who have already memorized every single name of…