BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — More than 5,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will soon get their official ballots for the 79th Academy Awards. The 5,830 ballots were mailed today and must be returned to Pricewaterhouse-Coopers by Feb. 20. The ballots list nominees in 19 categories.
Ballots for certain categories will not be sent until members have verified their attendance at mandatory screenings. These include best documentary feature, documentary short subject, foreign language film, animated short film and live action short film.
And, for a look at who handles and counts those ballots, and how it's done ...
Continuing its 73-year association with the Academy Awards, PricewaterhouseCoopers today announced that Brad Oltmanns and Rick Rosas will lead the balloting process for the 79th annual Academy Awards. For the second consecutive year, Oltmanns and Rosas are the only two people in the world who will know the identity of the winners before the live telecast on ABC at 7 p.m. on Feb. 25.
"PricewaterhouseCoopers facilitates complete confidentiality and security of the Academy Awards voting process by counting every single ballot by hand," said Sid Ganis, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. "Trust, integrity and tradition continue to be the core of the Academy Awards balloting process and that of our relationship with PwC, one of Hollywood’s longest standing relationships."
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ engagement with the Academy represents a tremendous honor for the firm. In 73 years, only 12 partners have counted the ballots. To promote secrecy, Oltmanns and Rosas lead a closed-mouth group of accountants who work on the project from a secret location for several days. There are approximately 6,000 voting members, which translates to approximately 1,700 "person-hours" each year to count and verify the ballots.
"PricewaterhouseCoopers has created an intentionally low-tech process of hand tabulations that is proven to maintain the highest level of security and secrecy for seven decades and counting," said Brad Oltmanns, managing partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers - Los Angeles. "This assignment is one that truly represents an honor, privilege and thrill of a lifetime."
"We are committed to our enduring engagement with the Academy and safeguarding Hollywood’s most enduring secret," said Rick Rosas, tax partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Entertainment and Media practice. "We take great pride in this important role of being the Academy’s ballot partner and in the fact that there has never been a security breach during our 73-year relationship."
Now in his third year in a lead balloting role, Oltmanns has served PricewaterhouseCoopers for 27 years, and is in charge of managing its entire 1,000-person staff in Los Angeles. Rosas has served the firm for 11 years and was appointed tax partner in 2001. This is his sixth year leading the Academy’s balloting process.
How it Works
PricewaterhouseCoopers mails eligible Academy members the nomination ballots in December, final ballots in February, and receives and processes all ballots. The balloting partners then manually tabulate the responses according to Academy rules. As a precautionary measure, two complete sets of envelopes bearing recipients’ names are prepared and brought by PricewaterhouseCoopers partners to the ceremony via separate, secret routes. As a second precautionary measure, the PricewaterhouseCoopers partners also memorize the names of the award winners.
Identities of Oscar recipients are kept confidential until they are announced during the live telecast, during which Oltmanns and Rosas remain backstage and hand the envelopes to award presenters immediately before they walk onstage.
Fun Facts from 73 Years of Oscar Balloting...
• 420,000+: The approximate number of ballots counted by
PricewaterhouseCoopers in 73 years on the job.
• 2,449: The number of winners’ envelopes stuffed since the envelope
system was introduced in 1941.
• 1,700: The approximate number of "person-hours" it takes the
PricewaterhouseCoopers team every year to count and verify the ballots
• 73: The number of years PricewaterhouseCoopers has conducted the Oscar
• 55: The number of broadcasts PricewaterhouseCoopers’ partners have
appeared on since 1953 — the year the Oscars were first televised.
The partners used to come on stage to hand-deliver the envelopes —
hence, "and the envelope please" — but this is now done just offstage.
• 24: The number of awards categories tabulated at a secret location
known only to the members of the small PricewaterhouseCoopers ballot
• 7: The number of days it takes to count the ballots for nominations.
• 3: The number of days it takes to count the final ballots.