Oscars Have ‘Crisis Team’ After Will Smith’s Slap

Last year’s Academy Awards was perhaps the most famous moment in Oscar’s long history: Will Smith on stage to the applause of Chris Rock. The horrific incident appears to have been a wake-up call for the Academy, which will deploy a “crisis team” at this year’s show to respond more quickly in case something, anything, goes awry.

“We have a full crisis team, which we’ve never had before, and a lot of plans in place,” Bill Kramer, CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), told Time magazine in a recent interview. “Because of last year, we opened our minds to the many things that can happen at the Oscars.”

Kramer, who was named CEO of the Academy in July, said the crisis team includes communications professionals and unspecified frameworks that he hopes “we never have to use.”

The Oscars have struggled to attract the gargantuan television audiences it once did — 2021 was at an all-time low — but last year’s slapstick was as viral as television can produce. After Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia, her husband, Will Smith, hit the stage, slapped the comedian and yelled “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

Smith, who won an Oscar for best actor last year for his role in King Richard, was next banned by the Academy to attend the Oscars or other related events and programs for 10 years.

“What happened on stage was completely unacceptable and the response from our organization was inadequate,” AMPAS President Janet Yang said in February. “We 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, mercifully and decisively for ourselves and for our industry. .”

After four months of silence, Smith apologized to Rock, Rock’s mother and his fellow award nominees in a July video posted on his Facebook and Instagram pages. “I’ve reached out to Chris, and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk. And when he is, he’ll be in touch,” Smith said in the video. “So I’ll tell you, Chris, I apologize… My behavior was unacceptable, and I’ll be here when you’re ready to talk.”

Rock, for his part, spoke about the incident during various shows over the past year. Last July, Rock referenced the slap when he told a crowd that “nobody who says ‘hurtful words’ has been slapped in the face.” The next month, he said during a set that he turned down an invitation to host the 2023 Oscarsalthough that was somewhat unlikely.

“As an institution, we need to move quickly and thoughtfully and engage with our members and nominees in a very transparent way,” Kramer told Time. “We could have moved faster. And I’m only talking about the night of the show. This is really our response after the show, and how we talked about it, and how we talked to Will and Chris, and our hosts. and our members. It was a moment to really bring people together.”

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