Alicia Cohn

Monday, October 14, 2013

Oscar envelope's journey

Original article published in The Washington Examiner: Feb. 25, 2013

Oscar envelope made cross-country journey to D.C.

It was a long, long journey to the capital city for the envelope Michelle Obama opened live from the White House to announce the winner of the Oscar for Best Picture.

For years, Brad Oltmanns and Rick Rosas of PricewaterhouseCoopers have been the ballot keepers, handing out results in envelopes to presenters just before they walk on stage. But last Monday, Oltmanns overnighted a briefcase to CEO Robert Moritz on the East Coast containing nine cards for each Best Picture nominee. On Saturday, following an afternoon rehearsal at the White House, Oltmanns, in Los Angeles, revealed the winner to Moritz, in D.C.

"He placed the card in the envelope, he sealed it, and then he kept it in his custody until he delivered it to Michelle Obama on live TV," Oltmanns told Yeas & Nays.

A lot of "consideration and care" went into the method, which ultimately avoided risks such as depending on the mail or waiting until counting concluded late in the week to transfer a single envelope with the answer.

"It was an interesting challenge," Oltmanns admitted. "I'm not aware of any instance where we had a ballot opened at a location other than where the show was."