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February 6, 2023

Is the PwC Oscar® Team Really Incorruptible?

PwC issued a press release today announcing their nearly eight-decade run tabulating the ballots for the Academy Awards. From now until the broadcast, we’ll be treated with more PwC mentions on Entertainment Tonight than anyone should bear.

Personally, I’m of the opinion that the Golden Globes is a better gig due to all the drunken shenanigans, but I understand why PwC goes on such a PR blitz for this thing. Still, it doesn’t make the whole thing any less annoying. I mean, read this fluff:

PwC’s long-established system involves the precise tallying of every single ballot at a concealed location to maintain the utmost level of accuracy, objectivity and confidentiality.
You have no idea how complex counting things in a secret location can be!
[Balloting leaders Brad Oltmanns and Rick Rosas] lead a tight-lipped team of accountants who conduct the same ballot-counting method that they have used for decades.
Ooooh, is it the counting method?
There has never been a single security breach in the 79 years that PwC has worked with the Academy and managed the balloting process.
So you’re saying we’re long overdue?
“It’s great to be working with PwC – our trusted colleague – again, for the 79th consecutive year,” said Ric Robertson , Academy COO. “We look forward to continuing the tradition of PwC leading our balloting process for many years to come.”

But how can they be so sure? The human element is a big factor here. Everyone is corruptible to a certain extent and I don’t see why Oltmanns, Rosas or anyone else on the “tight-lipped team of accountants” would be any different.

What if Rosas or Oltmanns’ pet gets kidnapped and the ransom was the leaking of the winner for best sound editing? Or what if someone promised them the celebrity of their choice for one night just for leaking the best cinematography winner? If you were hellbent on disrupting the natural order of a prestigious award ceremony, I’d think exploiting these team members would be your best bet. And this is Hollywood we’re talking about; anything is possible.

The only explanation that I can conjure up is some kind of omertà addendum to the team members’ code of conduct agreements. I have to imagine that the firm (taking pointers from the Academy) had to swear to a blood-oath while holding a burning picture of Edwin Waterhouse in their hands. You’d have to turn over the addresses of all your loved ones as well as submit to naked pictures of yourself staged in the proximity of barnyard animals.

Any betrayal would obviously result in consequences too terrible to contemplate as the firm would be dismissed by the Academy and ultimately result in the firm surrendering its license, Arthur Andersen style.

In other words, fear is the main motivator here. Do you want to be the weakest link that is ultimately responsible for spoiling the news that John Williams will win his 49th gold statue? I don’t think so.

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