Imagine that you’re Brian Cullinan or Martha Ruiz of accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers. From dawn to dusk your life is a blur of spreadsheets and meetings. The only comfort is knowing that one night in the year you will get to mingle with Hollywood stars as you make sure that the most important awards in showbiz go to the right people.
Then one fateful evening the wrong envelope gets opened, and before you know it the Oscar for best picture is being given to the wrong film in front of 3,400 members of the great and good and more than 30 million television viewers. Worse, the mistake doesn’t get rectified until the “winners” are halfway through their acceptance speech.
PwC has come in for a lot of criticism. There’s talk that the firm’s contract to handle the awards – which it’s had for 83 years – may be at risk (ironically, Cullinan said in an interview shortly before the ceremony that it never comes up for tender because the Academy has “absolute trust in us and what we do”). But perhaps we shouldn’t be too harsh on the bean counters, says Owen Gleiberman in Variety, a showbusiness weekly.
Maybe the gaffe was exactly what the ceremony needed. Without it, the broadcast risked being dominated by “the kind of cautious ‘good taste’ that can make you long, in your secret heart, for the days when the Oscars had the courage to be a little more trashy and vulgar”. After all, the real point of the show isn’t the awards, but to see “how celebrities carry and present themselves, and how they look when they wrapped themselves in Givenchy or Armani”.
So it’s good to see that at least one person is sticking to the tradition that fashion and controversy are what really matter. Designer Karl Lagerfeld claimed that he created a €100,000 dress for Meryl Streep, only for a member of her team to tell him to cancel the order, because a competitor had offered her money to wear their frock instead. Streep disputed the story and Lagerfeld subsequently retracted his claim.
He issued a quasi-apology (“I regret this controversy and wish Ms Streep well with her 20th Academy Award nomination”), which understandably did not mollify Streep. “I do not take this lightly, and Mr Lagerfeld’s generic ‘statement’ of regret for this ‘controversy’ was not an apology,” she shot back.
However, while it’s hard to imagine an actress of Streep’s stature taking money for being a walking clothes horse, it turns out that further down the ranks “it’s not uncommon for celebrities to make money simply by donning certain gowns, jewels and accessories for big awards shows”, says Erica Tempesta in the Daily Mail. “Stars can receive up to $250,000 to wear a dress on the red carpet.”
Still, while the Oscars carefully avoid too much excess, there’s plenty on display at the post-Oscar parties. The biggest of these is the Governors Ball, where the menu, designed by super-chef Wolfgang Puck, included lobster corn dogs, baked potatoes with caviar, gold-dusted truffle popcorn, spiced Wagyu short rib, and smoked salmon in the shape of Oscar statuettes, says the Press Association. The bill for that ball alone came to $1.8m, more than the budget for Moonlight, the surprise winner of the best picture award.
Tabloid money… sacked for eating a pie
• Singer Katy Perry wants her music to be known as “purposeful pop” – but to what purpose? scoffs Jan Moir in the Daily Mail. Her fans, who call themselves “KatyCats”, spend more on their heroine than any other pop act at £1,627 a year each, says a study by Barclaycard. That breaks down to £311.16 on gig tickets, food and travel, £1,144.30 on merchandise and £171.09 on her songs. The Katy Perry website is “groaning with items to tempt the KatyCats – £40 T-shirts, £85 jackets, £16 ankle socks”. Perhaps instead Perry “should encourage them to stop buying this rubbish and spend the money on books”, says Moir. “That would be a purposeful message indeed – but it won’t ever change.”
• If you want a symbol for what is rotten in modern football, Wayne Shaw – the 23-stone substitute goalie for Sutton United who was sacked for eating a pie during his team’s FA Cup tie against Arsenal – is not your man, says Tony Parsons in The Sun on Sunday. Sun Bets had offered odds of 8-1 that Shaw would eat the snack during the match, meaning that Shaw – who was aware of the bet – may have fallen foul of rules intended to prevent match fixing by tucking in. “In a sport that is increasingly tainted by obscene sums of money, Sutton United is Wayne Shaw’s life – for £450 a week.” The pie-munching incident was a joke and there was no profit in it for Shaw. “Give a decent man his job back.”
• The Duchess of Cambridge has been criticised for “recycling” a maroon skirt and jacket by wearing them twice. “This kind of silly commentary on her clothes can only encourage throwaway fashion – buying clothes like single-use plastic water bottles,” says Rachel Johnson in The Mail on Sunday. “As any sensible woman knows, if you don the same outfit only twice in five years … it counts as ‘nearly new’”. “We should celebrate thrift (see the Queen, using an electric fire rather than turning on the central heating) and save our sneers for consumerism, Trumpish bling and waste.”