What the Oscars are doing to prevent another Will Smith slap in 2022


March 11, 2023 | At 3:00

The slap heard ’round the world was – hopefully – a one-hit-wonder.

The Academy is now implementing measures to avoid “unprecedented” performances at this year’s 95th Academy Awards on Sunday after Will Smith punched Chris Rock during the live telecast last year.

During the ceremony, a “crisis team” will be ready to step in should something unforeseen happen, Bill Kramer, executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, told Time last month.

“We have a whole crisis team, something we’ve never had before, and a lot of plans in place,” he said. “We’ve run a lot of scenarios. So it’s our hope that we’ll be prepared for anything that we might not anticipate right now, but that we plan for should it happen.”

Jimmy Kimmel, who will host this year’s Oscars, is critical to the ceremony’s success, Kramer added, applauding the late-night host’s ability to handle “live television” because “things don’t always go as planned.”

“So you have a host in place who can really pivot and control those moments,” Kramer said.

At the 94th annual Academy Awards, Smith stormed the stage after Rock made a tone-deaf joke about Jada Pinkett Smith having alopecia.
Kramer announced that a crisis team would be on call the night of the ceremony to mediate any unexpected situations.
AFP via Getty Images

Kimmel, who was preparing to step into the role of host, jokingly threatened to “beat the st” out of anyone who tries to slap him on stage.

“If someone comes up on stage and hits me?” Kimmel, 55, began in his interview with the Hollywood Reporter this week. “Well, I’m their size, and if I’m bigger than they are, I’ll beat the s–t out of them on TV. And if it’s the Rock, I’ll run.”

However, the comedian admitted that the buzz around the slap has run its course – in his opinion, it’s “almost boring to joke about at this point.”

“Well, whatever I say about it, it’s going to be good, right?” he said, hinting at his opening monologue. “Because so much has been said and there is so much focus on it. Of course, I don’t want to make the whole monologue about it, but it would be ridiculous not to mention it.”

Kimmel, this year’s host, jokingly threatened to “beat up” anyone who tried to attack him on stage.
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

In an interview with People, Kimmel also noted how “shocking” it was and applauded Rock for how gracefully he handled it.

“I think getting punched in the face and staying cool is something that Chris should be proud of,” Kimmel said. “Chris’ grandchildren I hope will still be proud of it when he’s dead and gone.”

Academy president Janet Yang previously admitted the response to Smith’s behavior was “inadequate.” After the infamous slap, Smith, 54, was banned from attending the awards ceremony for 10 years. The “King Richard” actor, who won a best actor award that night, also withdrew from the academy.

“We learned from this that the Academy must be fully transparent and accountable in our actions, and especially in times of crisis, you must act quickly, compassionately and decisively for ourselves and our industry,” she told Variety.

“You should and cannot expect any less from us going forward,” she added.

Yang admitted that the response to Smith’s slap was “inadequate.”
Getty Images

Last year, Smith punched Rock, 58, in the face after the comedian and actor made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith experiencing alopecia. He compared the actress to “GI Jane” because of her shaved head.

“Keep my wife’s name out of your f-king mouth!” Smith then yelled twice from his seat after the slap.

Rock apparently never received a “private” apology from the award-winning actor, despite Smith’s “public” admission of regret. A source told the Daily Mail that he “never got a one-on-one private apology from Will, only the public one, which really meant nothing.”

Following buzz surrounding Smith’s tumultuous marriage, the “King Richard” actor punched Rock in the face during the show’s live broadcast.

“I want to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” Smith said in his first tearful apology. “I was out of line and I was wrong. I’m embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be.”

He later posted a video months later in July claiming that Rock was “not ready to talk” about the incident.

However, Rock blasted the infamous pop culture phenomenon in his latest Netflix stand-up special “Selective Outrage.”

“Everybody called that man a bitch,” Rock said, referring to the comment surrounding Smith’s marital problems before the Oscars. “And who did he hit? Me! A n–– a he knows he could hit. That’s some ass s–– t.”

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