Photos of Cullinan backstage at the show indicate that he was on his phone and tweeting amid his duties of handing out envelopes to presenters, which led to "La La Land" being mistakenly announced the victor instead of the correct film, "Moonlight". Onstage, co-presenter Faye Dunaway announced that "La La Land" was the victor, which was wrong.
There will be repercussions for the two accountants responsible for the shocking Oscars Best Picture flub on Sunday night.
Martha Ruiz, a tax adviser and Brian Cullinan, an accountant and chair of PwC's United States board, oversee the counting procedures and possess the winners' list long before the winners are announced. Two PwC staffers previously told MarketWatch that for security, there are "two briefcases, that are identical, and we have two entire sets of winning envelopes". The two stand on opposite sides of the stage and alternate distributing the envelopes to the presenters.
Cullinan had posted a backstage photo of actress Emma Stone on Twitter just moments before the error, according to several reports, and had reportedly been tweeting frequently all night. He would later delete the tweet, but not before some social media users had screen grabbed it.
Cullinan was confirmed by PwC as the person responsible for giving Warren Beatty - who presented the award with Faye Dunaway - the wrong envelope.
"Once the error occurred, protocols for correcting it were not followed through quickly enough by Mr. Cullinan or his partner", PwC said in a statement shortly after the show. She praised Beatty, Dunaway and Kimmel for their graciousness and for taking charge the way they did. We wish to extend our deepest gratitude to each of them for the graciousness they displayed during such a hard moment.
Cullinan has yet to comment on the incident, probably because he's legally bound to silence at this point and simply focusing on not hyperventilating as the world learns his name. They're the 13th and 14th partners to have EVER been given this responsibility in 83 years. He then passed it to Dunaway who, seeing only La La Land named on the card, proclaimed it the victor.
The climax of the Academy Awards fell victim to "human error", leading to "La La Land" being mistakenly named the victor of the top gong, according to Tim Ryan, US chairman and senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
But didn't Emma Stone have a point about holding her card?