Academy Says Will Smith Refused to Leave Ceremony

Board of governors condemns 'deeply shocking, traumatic event'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2022 3:04 PM CDT
Updated Mar 30, 2022 7:00 PM CDT
Academy Says Slap Probe Will Take Weeks
Will Smith hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

(Newser) Update: This story has been updated with new developments. Will Smith remained sitting in the front row at the Oscars after he slapped Chris Rock on Sunday night, but he was no longer a welcome guest, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says. The Academy said Wednesday that Smith was asked to leave the ceremony but refused to go, the New York Times reports. "Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated," the Academy said after a meeting Wednesday, per the AP. "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." Smith apologized—but not to Rock—when he collected the best actor award.

In a statement, the Academy condemned the "deeply shocking, traumatic event" and said disciplinary proceedings against Smith had begun. "Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment," the statement said. Sources tell the Times that the meeting of the board of governors Wednesday was "emotional" and that the general feeling was that it was their duty to not "normalize violence." The Academy said in a letter released Tuesday night that its probe of the incident and determination of the "appropriate action" Smith should face will take a few weeks to complete, Deadline reports.

"As governed by California law regarding members of nonprofit organizations like the Academy, and set forth in our Standards of Conduct, this must follow an official process that will take a few weeks," its letter reads. Meanwhile, the stream of opinions continue, from the likes of OJ Simpson (whose video take has more than 1 million views), Bill Maher, Amy Schumer (she's "triggered and traumatized") and Joe Rogan. If you're wondering what average Joe thinks, Mediaite reports a poll conducted Monday that surveyed 2,162 people found 52.3% of people felt Rock was in the wrong, vs. 47.7% who said the same of Smith. (Read more Will Smith stories.)

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