How Oscars Keep Winners Secret - Even from the Man Who Prints the Envelopes

Marc Friedland-designed Oscar envelopes as seen during the 88th Annual Academy Awards Governors Ball press preview in Los Angeles on Feb. 18.
Marc Friedland-designed Oscar envelopes as seen during the 88th Annual Academy Awards Governors Ball press preview in Los Angeles on Feb. 18.

And the winner is… a big secret.

The Oscars are so tightly under wraps that not even the person who prints the names of the winners knows the outcome.

“We do a winners card for every nominee,” admits Marc Friedland, who specializes in glitzy customized stationary and invitations. “We have no idea who the winners are in advance.”

Friedland showcased the stunning designs at a special event on Feb. 18 in Los Angeles for a preview of the glamorous Oscars Governors Ball—the swish annual after-party that follows the Oscars.

As the official stationer for the Academy through his Marc Friedland Couture Communications, he’s responsible for printing the gold envelopes and announcement cards that presenters will open during the live 88th annual Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 28.

The only people who are privy to the outcome ahead of time are the Academy’s accounting representatives from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, who tabulate the ballots submitted by Oscar voters and keep the results guarded until the big night.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 18: Sterling Vineyards wines, which will be served during the Governors Ball, are seen during the 88th Annual Academy Awards Governors Ball press preview at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 18, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Sterling Vineyards created special editions of red and white wines for the Governors Ball. celebration
Benoit Collard, Piper-Heidsieck global executive director says he expects to serve more than 1,500 bottles of champagne for Governors Ball guests.
Benoit Collard, Piper-Heidsieck global executive director says he expects to serve more than 1,500 bottles of champagne for Governors Ball guests.

From behind stage, the accountants hand off the sealed printed winners names to the presenters and remain waiting in the wings in case they inadvertently make the wrong announcement. Such was the case when Steve Harvey recently called the wrong name of Miss Universe. He was promptly trotted back on stage and had to admit to the flub.

Friedland considers the opening of the envelope and announcement of the winner “one of the most exciting moments in an artist’s life.”

At the soiree, Hollywood heavy hitters will be feted with savory and sweet bites cooked up by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. And they will wash it all down with specialty editions of Sterling Vineyards wine and Haig Club craft cocktails.

Of course, on the biggest night in showbiz, the bubbles will be flowing nonstop.

Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck (C) showcased a sample of the big night's menu.
Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck (C) showcased a sample of the big night’s menu.

“We’ll be pouring approximately 1,500 bottles of champagne, of which most of it will be rare,” says Benoit Collard, champagne brand Piper-Heidsieck’s global executive director. He adds that the traditional brut cuvee is a special edition made exclusively for the Oscars. “We won’t be selling any of those to the public.”

While the Academy touted “We All Dream in Gold” in its promotional materials, the ceremony’s floral designer for the past 23 years was dreaming of another color for the blooms on Oscar night. “This year it’s white and light pink with black accents and blush tones,” owner Mark Held of Mark’s Gardens reveals.

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