Insane secrecy, hours of counting and no loo breaks: Is being an Oscars accountant the toughest job in Hollywood?

By Alice Vincent

The accountants behind the Oscar winners in previous years. Photo / Getty Images
The accountants behind the Oscar winners in previous years. Photo / Getty Images

Organising an event as globally significant as the Oscars is no mean feat: there's hundreds of stars with enormous egos to appease, thousands of Academy voters to try and cajole into avoiding controversy and every chance that the host may sing a song about breasts to an international audience of 20 million people.

Which is why, especially among the glitz, glamour and the inevitably off-mark speeches (and, with any luck, a few tear-jerkers, too), it's easy to forget about the accountants.

Made to stand throughout the ceremony without so much as a loo break, it's the accountants who are responsible for the most important part of Oscars night: working out who the winner is.

Without them, we'd all just have to assume that La La Land won everything, Mel Gibson pulled a sore loser face and Andrew Garfield gave Emma Stone a standing ovation once again, only for their love to remain tragically dormant.

But Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, who work for Price-Waterhouse accountants, have come out of the Academy closet and revealed the secrets of their involvement in a sponsored post for The Huffington Post. Here's what they said:

It takes three days to count the final ballots

"After final voting closes a week before the live Oscars telecast, we start counting. It takes approximately three days to count the final ballots. Secrecy and accuracy is our top priority. While we have a team counting the ballots, none of our team members see more than a portion of the ballots in any category.

"The final tabulation of the winners is only done by the two of us. Once complete, we're the only two people in the world who know the final results before the live telecast."

via GIPHY

The sealed envelopes are kept in a secret location

"After checking (and rechecking... and checking again) the final results, we identify the names with the highest number of votes in each category, and insert the cards into sealed envelopes that will be opened during the ceremony. The envelopes are placed into the briefcases, and secured in a secret location until it's time to depart for the show."

via GIPHY

They have to remember all 24 winners

"We also memorise Every. Single. Winner. In. Every. Single. Category. The winners' names are not typed into a computer or written down, to avoid potential lost slips of paper or breaches of security."

via GIPHY

They can't leave the ceremony - not even to go to the loo

"We hand each envelope directly to the presenter in each category. We are positioned on either side of the stage, so we can hand envelopes from stage right or stage left, depending on where the presenter is entering.

"We don't leave for the entire show - not even for a bathroom break! We're so focused on doing our jobs that we don't mind the hours of standing."

via GIPHY

The only other things in the briefcase are snacks:

It's a long night, and a granola bar is often our only sustenance until after the show. Other than that, only the envelopes go inside the briefcase, in the order in which they will be presented.

via GIPHY

There's no point in asking them who won

"Our colleagues, friends, and families know by now that we keep our lips sealed, so they know better than to try to get us to reveal the results before the show. Celebrities, on the other hand, jokingly try to get us to reveal the results on the red carpet just before the show.

"In 2014 Cate Blanchett teasingly tried to take the briefcase out of Brian's hands. It was surreal for Brian, as he knew her name was in one of the envelopes in his briefcase - best actress!"

via GIPHY


And despite all this, they remain grateful

"It's humbling to be in charge of one of the best kept secrets in Hollywood."

via GIPHY

- Daily Telegraph UK

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 24 May 2017 18:55:54 Processing Time: 492ms