The Academy claims Will Smith ‘was asked to leave the ceremony and refused’

by Susan Ryant

Maybe it’s just the way my mind works, but as the Chris Rock-Will Smith situation unfolded live at the Oscars, I was really stunned by how poorly Oscar producer Will Packer and Oscar director Glenn Weiss handled the crisis. I realize that they couldn’t do anything to stop the actual slap, but everything that came after it was a case study in bad management. Not one of the three hosts was sent out to reboot the show and address, to the audience, why they were continuing. Producers abdicated their responsibility to Denzel Washington to manage Will Smith. It was a sh-tshow from a management perspective. Which means that a bunch of people have been in ass-covering mode all week. We’ve already heard that The Academy has launched a review of the incident, and now The Academy has issued yet another statement, threatening Will with suspension or expulsion from The Academy. Here’s the statement:

The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.

Consistent with the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, as well as California law, Mr. Smith is being provided at least 15 days’ notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response. At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.

Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television. Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event.

Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.

[From Variety]

Was he asked to leave and by whom? When? Because the journalists in the room noted that Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper, Nicole Kidman, Tyler Perry and Will’s publicist Meredith O’Sullivan Wasson all made their way to Will and Jada in the minutes that followed the slap, and no one else. Variety’s account of the post-slap management vacuum was that producers saw that Will was huddled with Denzel and they thought Denzel would handle it. THR reported that The Academy’s outgoing CEO Dawn Hudson and president David Rubin had a private discussion backstage with O’Sullivan Wasson, and that she went out to speak to Will several times. My guess is that’s how The Academy is covering their tracks, and that no one in The Academy’s leadership asked Will in person to leave, they spoke to his publicist and she probably asked him if he WANTED to leave. That’s my guess.

As for all this huffing and puffing from The Academy now… well, this is one of the reasons why it was so important for AMPAS to diversify its membership. So that it wouldn’t just be ass-covering white bureaucrats sitting in a room, figuring out a way to “punish” this year’s Best Actor winner. Except that even though AMPAS has diversified its membership, the executives and Board of Governors are still mostly white.

Update: Variety and TMZ are now reporting that the Academy’s statement about asking Will Smith to leave was a lie. We will have further coverage tomorrow.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Getty and Instar.

– Los Angeles, USA -20220327-The 94th Academy Awards-Arrivals -PICTURED: Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith -PHOTO by: Abby Grant/Cover Images/INSTARimages.com -Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith_4749.jpg This is an editorial, rights-managed image. Please contact Instar Images LLC for licensing fee and rights information at sales@instarimages.com or call +1 212 414 0207 This image may not be published in any way that is, or might be deemed to be, defamatory, libelous, pornographic, or obscene. Please consult our sales department for any clarification needed prior to publication and use. Instar Images LLC reserves the right to pursue unauthorized users of this material. If you are in violation of our intellectual property rights or copyright you may be liable for damages, loss of income, any profits you derive from the unauthorized use of this material and, where appropriate, the cost of collection and/or any statutory damages awarded Tyler Perry, and Oscar® nominees Will Smith and Denzel Washington during the 94th Oscars® at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA, on Sunday, March 27, 2022.,Image: 673515395, License: Rights-managed, Restrictions: Avalon Licensing Ltd. do not claim any Copyright of the attached image WORLD RIGHTS- Fee Payable Upon reproduction – For queries contact Avalon sales@Avalon.red London +44 20 7421 6000 Los Angeles +1 310 822 0419 Berlin +49 30 76 212 251 Madrid +34 91 533, Model Release: no, Credit line: Avalon.red / Avalon Oscar® nominee Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith during the 94th Oscars® at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA, on Sunday, March 27, 2022.,Image: 673515422, License: Rights-managed, Restrictions: Avalon Licensing Ltd. do not claim any Copyright of the attached image WORLD RIGHTS- Fee Payable Upon reproduction – For queries contact Avalon sales@Avalon.red London +44 20 7421 6000 Los Angeles +1 310 822 0419 Berlin +49 30 76 212 251 Madrid +34 91 533, Model Release: no, Credit line: Avalon.red / Avalon Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith during the live ABC telecast of the 94th Oscars® at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA, on Sunday, March 27, 2022.,Image: 673515557, License: Rights-managed, Restrictions: Avalon Licensing Ltd. do not claim any Copyright of the attached image WORLD RIGHTS- Fee Payable Upon reproduction – For queries contact Avalon sales@Avalon.red London +44 20 7421 6000 Los Angeles +1 310 822 0419 Berlin +49 30 76 212 251 Madrid +34 91 533, Model Release: no, Credit line: Avalon.red / Avalon Oscar® nominee Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith arrives on the red carpet of the 94th Oscars® at the Dolby Theatre at the Ovation Hollywood in Los Angeles, CA, on Sunday, March 27, 2022.,Image: 673541241, License: Rights-managed, Restrictions: Avalon Licensing Ltd. do not claim any Copyright of the attached image WORLD RIGHTS- Fee Payable Upon reproduction – For queries contact Avalon sales@Avalon.red London +44 20 7421 6000 Los Angeles +1 310 822 0419 Berlin +49 30 76 212 251 Madrid +34 91 533, Model Release: no, Credit line: Avalon.red / Avalon Will Smith attends the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Radhika Jones celebrating the 94th annual Academy Awards at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 27, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California,Image: 673579164, License: Rights-managed, Restrictions: , Model Release: no, Pictured: Will Smith, Credit line: – / JPI Studios / Avalon