The Academy Awards Scandal That First Got PwC Its Job Counting Oscars Votes

The Academy Awards Scandal That First Got PwC Its Job Counting Oscars Votes
From TIME - March 2, 2018

In 2017, the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which oversees vote counting and results distribution at the Academy Awards, caused a scandal for mixing up the envelopes that contained the names of the Best Picture winners.

It was another Oscars controversy that got PwC working with the Academy Awards in the first place.

The story took place in the very early years of the Academy Awards, in the 1930s, when there were rumors that Warner Brothers head honchos told the Academy members from their studio not to vote to nominate Bette Davis for Best Actress for her critically acclaimed role in Of Human Bondage, the film adaptation of the W. Somerset Maugham novel made by rival studio RKO.

At the time, Hollywood actors were usually tied to a studio, and Davis belonged to Warner Brothers. But in her memoir A Lonely Life, she described the early roles the studio gave her as horrors. She didnt have her breakout role until 1934s Of Human Bondage, and everyone was very aware that the movie wasnt made by her home studio.

It is an interesting fact that most people believe that Of Human Bondage was my first picture, although I had made twenty-one films before it, she writes in her memoir A Lonely Life. Two years of posing as Miss Fourth of July and Little Miss Clothes Horse for the fan magazinestwo years of hard work and indignities and a rival studio, not Warners, gave me my true beginning.

Before that role, she had demanded repeatedly that studio exec Jack Warner loan her out, and he eventually gave in because she was driving him crazy, Monica Roxanne Sandler, author of an article on politics at the early Oscars, which was published in the journal Media Industries in 2015, tells TIME. Sandler explains that its thought that Warner relented as if to say, youre not a big star, so go do this stupid film.

To Warners surprise, however, the movie did well. Really well.

The 26-year-old starred as the waitress-turned-prostitute Mildred Rogers, a role that TIME described as notable for being in the first part she has ever had which has required more than handsome clothes and an enigmatic expression, in its 1934 review. LIFE magazine called it probably the best performance ever recorded on the screen by a U.S. actress.

According to Ed Sikov, author of Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis, these rave reviews about Davis success with another studio humiliated Jack Warner, and he felt pressured to give her better roles, even though he really wanted to punish her by giving her mediocre roles.

Based on the reviews, she seemed like a shoe-in for an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She did her own PR to promote her role in the movie, including for the Best Actress nomination, in a way most actors hadnt done before, Sandler tells TIME.

But she didnt get an Oscar nomination, leading to backlash over the perceived snub.

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