The Oscars have a ‘crisis team’ after Will Smith’s slap in the face

Last year’s Oscars were perhaps the most infamous moment in the long history of the Oscars: Will Smith storms onto the stage to slap Chris Rock in the face. The shocking incident appears to have been a wake-up call for the academy, which will deploy a “crisis team” at this year’s show to be able to react more quickly if anything goes wrong.

“We have a whole crisis team, something we’ve never had before, and a lot of plans in the room,” Bill Kramer, CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), said in a recent interview with Time Magazine. “Because of last year, we’ve opened up to the many things that can happen at the Oscars.”

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

The Oscars have struggled to attract the gargantuan television audiences they once had – 2021 was a record low – but last year’s slap in the face was as viral a moment as television can produce. After Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia, her husband Will Smith stormed the stage, punched the comedian and yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out of your friggin’ mouth.”

Smith, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor last year for his role in King Richard, was in the episode barred from attending the Oscars by the academy or other related events and programs for 10 years.

“What happened on stage was totally unacceptable and our organization’s response was inadequate,” AMPAS President Janet Yang said in February. “We have learned from this that the Academy must be fully transparent and accountable in what it does, and particularly in times of crisis, you must act quickly, compassionately and decisively on behalf of us and our industry. They shouldn’t and can’t expect less from us in the future.” .”

After four shy months, Smith apologized to Rock, Rock’s mother and other honorees in a July video posted to his Facebook and Instagram pages. “I reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he is not ready to speak. And when he is, he’s going to make himself known,” Smith said in the video. “So I’ll tell you Chris, I apologize to you… My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”

For his part, Rock has spoken about the incident at various standup shows over the past year. Last July, Rock referenced the slap when he told a crowd that “anyone who says words hurt wasn’t slapped in the face”. Next month, he said during one sentence that he turned down an invitation to host the 2023 Oscarsalthough that was probably a bit.

“As an institution, we need to act quickly, compassionately, and work with our members and nominees in a very transparent manner,” Kramer told Time. “We could have acted faster. And I’m not just talking about the night of the show. That’s really our reaction 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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