The morning after a raucous Oscarcast that saw Will Smith slap presenter Chris Rock in the face over his joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has issued another statement.
“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show. We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
The follows a weak late-night tweet by AMPAS following the altercation in which they posted, “The Academy does not condone violence of any form.”
The issue is likely to be Topic No. 1 at the Academy’s board meeting this week.
That probe could see Smith ejected from AMPAS or suffer some sort of suspension from the organization and its events, including next year’s Oscars. Regardless of where the review ends up, sources tell us that there is no chance that Smith will be asked to hand back his Best Actor Oscar for King Richard.
Some of the glossies this morning said Smith and Pinkett Smith would address the Rock Oscar situation in a post-mortem on the latter’s Red Table Talk. We’re hearing that is not true.
AMPAS Standards of Conduct reads, “Academy membership is a privilege offered to only a select few within the global community of filmmakers. In addition to achieving excellence in the field of motion pictures, members are also expected to behave ethically by upholding the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity, inclusion, and a supportive environment that fosters creativity. The Academy asks that members embrace their responsibility to affirm these principles and act when these principles are violated. There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards
of decency. The Academy is categorically opposed to any form of abuse, harassment or discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, or nationality.”
A breach of conduct also includes “Physical contact that is uninvited and, in the situation, inappropriate and unwelcome, or coercive sexual attention” as well as “Intimidation, stalking, abusive or threatening behavior, or bullying”.
Punishment by AMPAS for Smith could include “suspension of membership or expulsion from membership. Sanctions issued under this policy that are less severe than suspension or expulsion of membership may include private reprimand, public reprimand, temporary or permanent loss of privileges to attend and participate in Academy events or activities, temporary or permanent loss of eligibility to receive or hold or revocation of Academy awards or honors, temporary or
permanent loss of eligibility to hold Academy service and volunteer roles, or other sanctions that the Academy in its sole discretion may deem appropriate.”
View co-host and Academy Governor in the Actor’s branch Whoopi Goldberg said earlier today on the syndicated show, “We’re not going to take that Oscar from him.”
“There will be consequences I’m sure, but I don’t think that’s what they’re going to do, particularly because Chris said ‘Listen, I’m not pressing any charges.’” added Goldberg referring to how Rock wasn’t pressing any charges against Smith with the LAPD.
“I think it was a lot of stuff probably built up,” Goldberg said today, noting that Will and Jada Pinkett Smith have been the butt of jokes for various reasons for years, including previous jabs from Rock. “I think he overreacted…I think he had one of those moments where it was like G.D. it, just stop. I get it, not everybody acts the way we would like them to act under pressure. And he snapped.”
Oscars producer Will Packer initially tweeted following the altercation, “Welp…I said it wouldn’t be boring #Oscars.” After that sparked criticism, Packer followed up with a new tweet saying, “Black people have a defiant spirit of laughter when it comes to dealing with pain because there has been so much of it. I don’t feel the need to elucidate that for you…But I also don’t mind being transparent and say that this was a very painful moment for me. On many levels.”
Though Rock declined to file a report with the LAPD, the Fargo star actually has six months to change his mind. Under California law, an assault like what Smith conducted upon Rock could result in a maximum of six months behind bars and a $100,000 fine.
With Rock not filing a police report at present, it is unlikely the Academy could take any legal measures like that against Smith, though it is likely to be among the topics raised at the group’s upcoming board meeting where they’ll do their traditional de-brief of the ceremony.
It is clear in the aftermath of the incident, that several board members are very upset with what went down on Sunday night and how it was handled, or rather not handled. Despite some backstage consultations, the organization and producers decided not to remove Smith from the event and the Dolby Theater, we hear. In fact, the handwringing went on so long that over half an hour passed and Smith was back up on stage accepting his Best Actor award for his King Richard performance.
And the 2023 Oscars were clearly on Smith’s mind last night as he gave a passionate but disjointed acceptance speech full of idioms and apologies, though not to Rock publicly. “I hope the Academy invites me back,” the actor exclaimed poignantly.
Last night in presenting the Oscar for Documentary Feature, Rock joked about Pinkett-Smith’s shaved head, saying, “Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it.” Pinkett-Smith has alopecia. The joke prompted Smith to get up from his chair and walk toward Rock, slapping him in the face. For a minute, it all appeared to be part of a stunt.
“Wow,” said Rock afterward. “Will Smith just smacked the s**t out of me.” Smith’s comments were bleeped when he returned to his seat, but it was apparent that he he was enraged by Rock’s quip, shouting out, “Keep my wife’s name out your f***king mouth.”
“I’m not crying for winning an award, it’s not about winning an award for me,” said a crying Smith in his acceptance remarks, drawing parallels between the moment he was having and the life of the man he played onscreen — Richard Williams, father to Serena and Venus. “It’s about being able to shine light on all of the people. Art imitates life, I look like the crazy father just like they said about Mr. Williams. Love makes you do crazy things.”
Post the whole Oscar blow-up, Smith’s son Jaden Smith tweeted out the response, “And That’s How We Do It.”
Following last night’s turmoil, Vanity Fair reported that Smith was seen posing with others on the dance floor at that magazine’s Oscar party. The DJ at the party played Smith’s hit “Gettin Jiggy Wit It” and a circle formed around the actor.
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