March 11, 2023 | 15:00
The slap heard around 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 slapped Chris Rock during the live stream last year.
During the ceremony, a “crisis team” will be ready to respond should the unexpected happen, Bill Kramer, CEO 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 lots of plans in place,” he said. “We ran many scenarios. So we hope that we will be ready for everything that we may not be anticipating at the moment, but planning for in case it happens.
Jimmy Kimmel, who will host this year’s Oscars, is critical to the success of the ceremony, Kramer added, applauding the late-night host’s ability to handle “live television” because “things don’t don’t always go as planned.”
“So you have a host in place who can really pivot and handle those moments,” Kramer said.
Kimmel, preparing to play host, jokingly threatened to “beat the shit out” of anyone who tried to slap him on stage.
“If someone comes on stage and slaps me?” Kimmel, 55, began in her interview with The Hollywood Reporter this week. “Well, I size them up, and, if I’m bigger than them, I beat them like crazy on TV. And if it’s the Rock, I run.
However, the comedian admitted the buzz around the slap had run its course – in his opinion it’s “almost boring to joke around at this point”.
“Well, whatever I say about it, it’s gotta be awesome, right?” he said, alluding to his opening monologue. “Because so much has been said and there’s so much attention on it. I obviously don’t want to do all the monologue about it, but it would be ridiculous not to mention it.
In an interview with People, Kimmel also noted how “shocking” it was, applauding Rock for the grace with which he handled it.
“I mean, being slapped and staying that cool is something Chris should be proud of,” Kimmel said. “I hope Chris’ grandchildren will still be proud of him when he’s dead and gone.”
Academy President Janet Yang previously admitted the response to Smith’s behavior was “inadequate”. Following the infamous slap, Smith, 54, was banned from attending the awards ceremony for 10 years. The ‘King Richard’ actor, who won Best Actor that night, also resigned from the Academy.
“We have learned from this that the Academy must be completely transparent and accountable in our actions, and especially in times of crisis, you must act quickly, compassionately and decisively for ourselves and for our industry,” said she told Variety.
“You should and can expect nothing less from us in the future,” she added.
Last year, Smith punched Rock, 58, in the face after the comedian and actor made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, who suffers from alopecia. He compared the actress to “GI Jane” due to her shaved head.
“Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking 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 received a one-on-one private apology from Will, only a public apology which really meant nothing’.
“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” Smith said in his tear-eyed first apology. “I was out of place and I was wrong. I’m embarrassed and my actions weren’t indicative of the man I want to be.
He then posted a video months later in July, claiming that Rock was “not ready to talk” about the incident.
Rock, however, blasted the infamous pop culture phenomenon in his latest Netflix stand-up special “Selective Outrage.”
“Everyone called that man a bitch,” Rock said, referencing commentary surrounding Smith’s marital issues ahead of the Oscars. “And who did he hit? Me! An n — — one he knows he could beat. It’s fucking shit – – t.