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PwC pair banned from Oscars after blunder

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Martha L. Ruiz, left, and Brian Cullinan from PricewaterhouseCoopers at the Oscars in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

The two accountants responsible for the biggest blunder in Oscars history have been told they will never return to the awards show.

The president of the film academy says the two accountants responsible for the best-picture blunder at Sunday's Academy Awards will never work the Oscars again.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs says Brian Cullinan, the PwC representative responsible for handing over the errant envelope that led to La La Land mistakenly being announced as best picture rather than Moonlight, was distracted backstage.

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Fred Berger, producer of "La La Land," foreground center, gives his acceptance speech as members of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Brian Cullinan, holding red envelope, and Martha L. Ruiz, in red dress, and a stage manager discuss the best picture announcement error among the cast at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The actual winner of best picture went to "Moonlight." (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

He tweeted (and later deleted) a photo of Emma Stone with her new Oscar minutes before giving presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway the wrong envelope for best picture.

Cullinan and his colleague, Martha Ruiz, have been permanently removed from all film academy dealings, Boone Isaacs said.

The academy president has broken her silence following the biggest blunder in the 89-year history of the Academy Awards. She told The Associated Press that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' relationship with PwC, which has been responsible for tallying and revealing Oscar winners for 83 years, remains under review.

Though the academy released a statement on Monday apologising to the artists of Moonlight and La La Land, Boone Isaacs said she waited to say more until her team had a better understanding of what led to the error.

She praised presenters Beatty and Dunaway and host Jimmy Kimmel for gracefully taking charge of the situation. She also lauded La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz, whom she said "went from a nominee to a winner to a presenter in a matter of minutes."

Horowitz, still holding the Oscar he thought he'd won, was the first to announce that Moonlight was the actual winner.

Boone Isaacs lamented that "the last 90 seconds" of the telecast have overshadowed what she described as "the most brilliant and wonderful show."

Meanwhile Variety has obtained photos of Cullinan leading up to and during Sunday's gaffe.

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, which 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 presenter Warren Beatty) and the best picture envelope, the night's two final awards.

Cullinan can also be seen on his mobile phone, putting the PWC executive on social media at the start of Beatty and Dunaway's presentation.

"He feels very, very terrible and horrible. He is very upset about this mistake," PWC chairman Tim Ryan told Variety on Monday. "While I am concerned I hope we will be judged on how quickly we reacted and owned up to the issue."

© AAP 2017

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