How many people know the Oscar winners before the ceremony?

27 Feb

I love watching the Oscars. But I love watching the pre-ceremony arrivals even more. There’s just something so breathtaking about some of the beautiful gowns that waft down the red carpet. Like the gorgeous sparkly creations worn by Octavia Spencer (pictured) and Milla Jovovich today.

Then you get to the frock shockers, and I must confess this is actually my favourite bit. I mean these women have millions of dollars and access to the best stylists and designers and they STILL manage to get it so wrong. They’re almost begging for a public backhanding.

But while I unleashed my claws on Facebook earlier, I feel obliged to hold my tongue here, since I’m a big believer in karma. But let’s just say my least favourite gowns were all well acquainted with the category of Best Actress.

Anyway, on to the awards themselves, and I’ve always wondered if the winners’ names are really kept secret before those envelopes are opened. And the answer is, yes. Very much so! In fact only two people know their identities in advance.

They are non-household names Rick Rosas and Brad Oltmanns, who are accountants with Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the firm which has long been entrusted with counting the thousands of ballots lodged in 24 categories.

Among the measures they take to ensure absolute confidentiality are to count each ballot by hand, and in utter secrecy. As Oltmanns further reveals on the PWC website: “All of the counting is done in a secure, private, undisclosed location. No computers in the room and phones aren’t used. We are sequestered, just counting the results.”

Once they’re in, the names are kept locked up in a vault. Then, on the big day, the two men attend the show separately, travelling by secret routes and accompanied by police officers. They each carry a briefcase containing an identical set of winners envelopes and stand backstage during the entire ceremony, handing each envelope to the presenters as they walk onstage.

Here’s some other crunched numbers about PWC’s 78 years of Oscar balloting.

* 450,000-plus – the rough number of ballots counted.
* 2600-plus – the number of winners’ envelopes stuffed since the envelope system was introduced in 1941.
* 1700 – the approximate number of “person-hours” it takes each year to count and verify the ballots.
• 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.

And OK, you partly got me, I’ll come clean on my trio of worst ever Oscar frocks (Cher is ineligible as she gets a category of her own.) 3. Uma Thurman’s milkmaid. 2. Celine Dion’s back to front shiny white pantsuit. 1. Gywneth Paltrow for that black goth ensemble a few years back. But since she looked hotter than hot tonight, I think we can agree she’s more than made up for it.

Check out the red-carpet action here.

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