LOS ANGELES – As questions swirled about why actor Will Smith did not face any repercussions for slapping comedian Chris Rock during Sunday night’s Oscars broadcast, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which administers the awards, said Monday that it condemned his actions. He was starting a formal review.
“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith on last night’s show,” the organization said in a statement. “We have officially begun a formal review of the incident and will explore further actions and consequences in accordance with our internal regulations, standards of conduct and California law.”
The statement came after Monday’s meeting.
the incident On Sunday afternoon, Mr. Rock made a joke about the very short hair of Mr. Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who suffers from alopecia, a condition that leads to hair loss. Mr. Smith responded by walking onto the Dolby stage and slapping Mr. Rock, leaving the stunned spectators at first wondering if the blow had been written until Mr. Smith returned to his seat and warned him to stop talking about his wife, using expletives.
Behind the scenes at the Oscars, there were serious discussions about taking Smith off the stage, according to two industry officials familiar with the situation and granted anonymity to describe the internal deliberations. But time was short, because the award for Best Actor, which Mr. Smith would have so much preferred to win, was fast approaching, one of them pointed out – and stakeholders had differing opinions on how to proceed. The other said there were also concerns about further disruption of live broadcasts.
As the show continued, actor Denzel Washington spoke with Mr. Smith during a commercial break. (Mr. Smith said that Mr. Washington had told him, “In your prime, be careful. Then the devil comes for you.”) Soon after, Mr. Smith won Best Actor. In his speech, Smith apologized to the Academy and to his fellow nominees – but not to Mr. Rock – and defiantly sought resemblance to the character he played in “King Richard,” the father of Venus and Serena Williams.
“Richard Williams was a fierce advocate for his family,” said Mr. Smith.
The accident overshadowed the awards. On ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday, George Stephanopoulos described it as “something we’ve never seen before, and it’s hard to address: Will Smith, rose to that stage after Chris Rock told a joke about his wife — Simply assaulting Chris Rock.”
Sperling reported from Los Angeles. Jacobs and Stevens reported from New York. Dave Itzkopf Contribute to the preparation of reports.
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