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Accounting News Roundup: PwC’s Oscars Flub | 02.27.17

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Well, in case you went to bed early last night, here’s what you missed:

In what was surely the most shocking moment in Oscars history, Faye Dunaway announced the wrong winner for best picture at the end of the ceremony, awarding the trophy to “La La Land” when it actually was supposed to go to “Moonlight.” It turns out that Dunaway and her co-presenter, Warren Beatty, were given the wrong category envelope, so the actors announced the wrong winner, leading to the wrong filmmakers to begin their acceptance speeches for an award they hadn’t actually won. But it took several minutes for the Academy Awards producers and accountants to rectify the mistake and get the actual winners onstage to accept their award.

Yes, after all the hype, after that briefcase traveled all across to the country to get groped by PwC employees, after standing there all night not being able to go to the bathroom, something went terribly, terribly wrong. Here’s what USA Today reports:

The night’s true drama kicks in when La La Land filmmakers take the stage to accept best picture. The accountant from PriceWaterhouseCoopers jumps up and says, “He (presenter Warren Beatty) took the wrong envelope!” and goes running onstage. Craziness breaks out. No one knows how Beatty got a best actress envelope; [Emma] Stone later tells reporters in the media room that she has been holding her envelope the entire time.

I mean, just look at this chaos on stage and PwC partners Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz are right in the middle of it:

  Naturally, Twitter reacted (and is still reacting). And the firm put out a statement with an apology to, uh, basically, everyone

That statement came out in the early morning hours but there are still questions. Here’s the New York Times:

Many details remained unclear on Monday morning, including how the envelopes were handled backstage before Mr. Beatty and Ms. Dunaway came out and why the error was not corrected more swiftly. Three “La La Land” producers had given acceptance speeches before the mistake was announced.

Honestly, you couldn’t write a worse scenario for PwC. Their flawless method failed, it happened for the most important award, on TV in front of countless people and NO ONE can really explain why. (Of course, if you can explain, then you should email us.) The Academy is going to want answers. And the question everyone is wondering — will this be curtains for PwC? Here’s what Michigan business professor Erik Gordon told USA Today:

For a company of accountants who prize themselves on their commitment to accuracy, an event that typically burnishes their credibility quickly devolved into a global crisis.

Accounting is a “credence good,” which means “customers don’t know to evaluate” it unless something goes wrong, University of Michigan business professor Erik Gordon said.

“You trust in the name. If you understood accounting, you wouldn’t need PwC or KPMG or any of them,” Gordon said. “It’s a reputation good. This is the most public goofup an accounting firm could make. Accounting firms are in the background.”

Now they’re the stars. Or villains maybe? Tragic figures? Someone’s going to write a screenplay about this, I’m sure.

Elsewhere in Oscar screw-ups: Australian Producer Mistakenly Included in Oscars ‘In Memoriam’ Segment

Accountants behaving badly

Okay, perhaps you think we should’ve saved this section for PwC, but I think it’s more suitable for accountants with malicious intent:

Court records say Jamie Nall, 34, of St. Peters, forged 92 checks totalling more than $84,000. The checks were forged with the name of the business treasurer between December 2014 and June 2016 and put into two accounts belonging to Nall, police say.

I think the moral of this story is that no matter how small you make the checks, something is still going to look fishy. 92 checks in under two years doesn’t seem reasonable these days.

Previously, on Going Concern…

Rachel Andujar wrote about ways to prevent busy season fire drills. Adrienne Gonzalez wrote about kittens.

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