Will Packer, the producer of this year’s Oscars telecast on ABC, is expected to speak about the controversy at the event that involved actor Will Smith slapping comedian Chris Rock, in an appearance on Friday morning’s broadcast of “Good Morning America,” according to two people familiar with the matter.
The interview may be one of the first public eyewitness accounts from one of the executives in charge of the Oscars broadcast.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has launched a formal review following Smith’s assault on Rock at Sunday’s Oscars ceremony. Conflicting accounts have emerged, with the Academy claiming it asked Smith to leave Sunday’s Oscars ceremony after hitting Rock, who had made a joke about the appearance of Jada Pinkett Smith. However, sources close to the situation have refuted the notion that the actor was ever formally urged to leave the show. It appears that in the chaos that surrounded the altercation, these people suggested, the Academy and Packer sent mixed messages about whether Smith should be expelled from the event.
ABC News is expected to show a clip of the interview on Thursday night’s broadcast of “World News Tonight,” according to one of these people. ABC News and “Good Morning America” declined to make producers available for comment.
Smith assaulted Rock after the comic made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved bald head, suggesting that she was supposed to appear in “G.I. Jane 2.” Pinkett Smith has said that she suffers from hair loss due to alopecia. Smith apologized to Rock on Monday and said that “a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.”
The Academy is investigating the incident. On Wednesday, the group said that Smith faces “suspension, expulsion or other sanctions” for his actions. The organization also apologized to Rock, who acknowledged the incident at a stand-up performance in Boston last night, but declined to speak of it in detail.