Will Smith refused to walk out of the Oscars after being slapped, Academy says

LOS ANGELES — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Wednesday that actor Will Smith was asked to walk out of the Academy Awards after he punched Chris Rock onstage Sunday night, but the actor refused to walk.

“Things developed in a way that we could not have foreseen,” the academy said in a statement announcing it had initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr Smith. “While we want to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize that we could have handled the situation differently.”

Shortly after the revelation, Mr. Rock took advantage of a sold-out comedy show in Boston to make his first public comments on the incident since Mr. Smith punched him during the Academy Awards’ live worldwide broadcast.

“How was your weekend?” Mr. Rock asked the crowd at the Wilbur in Boston’s Theater District.

“I’m still processing what happened,” Mr. Rock said, briefly addressing the topic everyone was talking about. He promised to talk more about it later. “It’s going to be serious, it’s going to be funny, but I’d like to — I’ll crack a few jokes.”

Both Hollywood celebrities have been involved since Sunday’s incident connected and unconnected at the awards ceremony freely weighed the incident. Mr Rock, 57, was not one of them. The veteran stand-up and actor-director did not speak publicly about the incident until his show on Wednesday night.

Mr. Rock’s performance was immediately greeted with a standing ovation, and after the audience took their seats, they got back up, urging the comedian to try to silence them so he could get started.

“Let me put on a show, y’all,” he said. “You’ve made me all foggy.”

He addressed the elephant in the room, noting that he didn’t have much to say about what happened. “So if you came to hear that, I had a whole show that I wrote before this weekend,” he said.

Mr. Rock’s grace under pressure that night was one of the few things to be commended after an ugly moment: He stayed on stage after being punched and joked to the stunned audience that “this is the greatest night in history.” of television was,” and continued with the show.

The Los Angeles Police Department said shortly after the incident that the person involved – believed to be Mr Rock – “refused to file a police report.”

The academy’s revelation that Mr Smith, 53, had been ordered to leave came after the Board of Governors met on Wednesday to discuss the incident. The organization did not describe who made the request; Earlier this week, two industry officials with knowledge of the situation said there had been serious discussions about Mr Smith’s removal from the theater but did not say he had been ordered to leave the theatre.

The academy said it had initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr Smith “for violations of the academy’s standards of conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior and endangering the integrity of the academy”. It said Mr Smith would be given an opportunity to respond and that at its next board meeting on April 18 it “may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions.”

“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in person and on television,” the Academy said in a statement. Rock, we apologize for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in this moment.”

Wednesday’s two-and-a-half-hour Board of Governors meeting was described by two participants as “emotional” as the governors expressed the feelings of their constituents from different branches of the film industry. According to attendees, the feeling in the room was that it was their duty “not to normalize violence,” said two governors who were granted anonymity to discuss a private meeting.

The incident happened on Sunday when Mr Smith responded to a joke made by Mr Rock about his wife’s buzzing hair by leaving his seat in the audience, slapping the comedian in the face and then – using expletives – warning him , not to talk about his wife , actress Jada Pinkett Smith. (Ms. Pinkett Smith has alopecia, which has caused hair loss and caused her to regularly buzz her hair.)

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Smith won an Oscar for his leading role in King Richard. He used his speech to defiantly portray himself as a defender of others, apologizing to the Academy and his fellow candidates — but not to Mr. Rock. The next day, after the Academy condemned his actions and launched an investigation, Mr. Smith issued a public statement apologizing to Mr. Rock, saying he was “out of line”.

The stunning moment on stage immediately sparked a nationwide debate over who was to blame and questions as to why Mr Smith had not suffered consequences after punching a host on live television.

Wanda Sykes, one of the Sunday show’s hosts, said in a clip from an interview with Ellen DeGeneres shared Wednesday that she felt the moment was “disgusting” and that she thought Mr. Smith should have been escorted out of the building instead should stay and accepted his Oscar.

“I’m still a bit traumatized by it,” Ms Sykes said in the clip from an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show scheduled to air next week. “So they can have him stay in this room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award — I was like, how gross is that? That’s just the wrong message.”

Nicole Sperling reported from Los Angeles a Julia Jacobs reported from Boston.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/30/movies/will-smith-chris-rock-slap-oscars.html Will Smith refused to walk out of the Oscars after being slapped, Academy says

Isaiah Colbert

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