Will Smith’s slap heard around the world begs the question — what does it take to get kicked out of the Oscars?
When last night’s best actor winner assaulted presenter Chris Rock during the Academy Awards on Sunday, television history was made — as was the collective undoing of Hollywood decorum. But why wasn’t Smith ejected from the ceremony for the internationally televised incident?
Shock, for starters, numerous sources close to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences told Variety. It’s evident from social media accounts and wide reports from inside the telecast that many attendees were dumfounded by the act, unsure if it was a bit between the two famous men or an intentional attack.
Adjacent to Hollywood’s Dolby Theater in the Lowes Hotel, on site at the annual Governor’s Ball post-reception, Academy leadership convened to discuss protocol, one insider said. The Academy is a nonprofit organization ruled by bylaws, and sources say there appear to be no provisions addressing open-hand smacking across the face on the live show.
Escorting Smith out of the ceremony was discussed, the source said, though by the time any substantive scenarios were imagined, he had already been called up to the podium to accept an Oscar for his turn in “King Richard.” The show ended shortly thereafter, as a joyous atmosphere turned sour.
Another person close to the event pointed out that show producers did not want the optics of having security remove a beloved movie star from his seat, especially as Smith supporters highlighted the defense of his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock’s joke about her bald head — a reference to Demi Moore’s “G.I. Jane” — invoked reference to Pinkett Smith’s open struggle with alopecia. The source indicated Rock’s joke was off the cuff, and not included in the script fed to him on teleprompters.
When Smith accepted his honor, he tearfully apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees, though he failed to mention Rock by name.
The Academy is expected to address the scandal as early as Monday evening, and it would not be surprising to see Smith’s membership in the prestigious body come under some form of review. Smith may also offer up another apology. It appears that Smith may face some kind of sanction, though there’s no indication his Oscar will be revoked (Roman Polanski and Harvey Weinstein still have their prizes, after all). Talk about a slap in the face.