A "veteran" Oscars stage manager has given his behind-the-scenes perspective on the Best Picture snafu, and he comes off as none-too-impressed with the "frozen" PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants involved. In a lengthy interview with The Wrap, Gary Natoli says Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz were supposed to have memorized the list of winners, and protocol dictated that if a winner was announced who didn't sync with that memorized list, they'd leap into action. But when La La Land was named, Ruiz—who was steps away from Natoli and host Jimmy Kimmel at the time—didn't make a peep. Natoli says he and Kimmel then left to set up a sketch, and about a minute later heard over a radio that Cullinan thought the wrong winner had been announced.
Natoli radioed back asking Ruiz to open her extra Best Picture envelope. Once it was confirmed Moonlight was the winner another stage manager tried to get the accountants to go onstage—to no avail. "[Brian] wouldn’t go, and Martha wouldn’t go," Natoli says. "We had to push them on stage, which was just shocking to me." (His full interview is here.) Meanwhile, two sources tell Variety that Cullinan had pitched a sketch to Oscars producers that would have involved him and Ruiz onstage with Kimmel. PwC, however, says Cullinan was simply concerned after last year's Academy Awards, during which host Chris Rock brought three Asian-American children onstage and joked they were the PwC accountants. A PwC rep says Cullinan did discuss possible onstage appearances, but not a sketch; he just wanted to avoid being cast in "a defamatory way" again. (Read more Oscars stories.)