May I Have the Envelopes, Please?
Setoodeh, Ramin, Newsweek
Byline: Research by Ramin Setoodeh
The world watches the Oscars, but the winners are decided by the fewer than 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Here's what happens to their ballots once they're cast.
Tuesday, March 2
Ballots must be submitted to the L.A. branch of the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers no later than 5 p.m.
Wednesday March 3
All ballots are opened by four accountants overseen by two "balloting leaders" in a room with one door and no windows. It takes three days to tabulate the 24 different Oscar categories. The ballots are counted by hand, with each accountant responsible for one fourth of the total. They are forbidden from sharing information, and only the balloting leaders tabulate the final results, which are then locked in a safe. They will remain the only two people in the world who know the names of the winners before they are announced.
Saturday, March 6
Meanwhile, an assistant has typed the names of all the nominees in each category on two sets of notecards--one for each balloting leader. Each man (there has been only one woman during PricewaterhouseCoopers's 76-year tenure) sorts through his stack, picking out the winners and placing them in envelopes. …