Academy Says Will Smith Was Asked to Leave Oscars And Refused
I can’t be the only person who, after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock in the face in the middle of the Oscars after Rock told a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head, wondered how Smith was allowed to stay and watch the rest of the show — and then was permitted to get on stage a little while later to collect an Academy Award for Best Actor to a huge standing ovation. Surely if any other person anywhere in the world walked on the stage in the middle of a Chris Rock standup show, slapped him in the face, and returned to their seat, he or she would immediately be escorted out by security, if not arrested.
It’s now Wednesday, and while the Academy has released a bunch of statements and apologies about what happened on Sunday night, they have never once said that they attempted to remove Smith from the show. But today the Academy released a statement announcing that they had “initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct,” they also claim “that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused.”
As part of these disciplinary proceedings, the Board of Governors of the Academy will vote at their next meeting on whether Smith should be punished for his behavior at the Oscars. Potential outcomes of the vote “may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.”
On its face, it’s a little hard to believe that the Academy (or their security) asked Will Smith to leave the show and we’re just hearing about it now. If they did ask, they certainly didn’t ask very forcefully, since he didn’t leave and they allowed him to stay and accept his Oscar. Regardless, the Academy’s statement claims “we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.” So it’s a statement and an understatement.
The Academy’s vote on Smith’s behavior and potential disciplinary actions will take place on April 18.
UPDATE: Several sites, including Variety and TMZ, are reporting that their “sources” dispute that Smith was “ever formally urged to leave the show.” (In TMZ’s case, their info comes from “sources with direct knowledge who were present.”) So this drama is far from over.