The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences says it has begun disciplinary proceedings against Will Smith following the incident on Sunday where he slapped comedian and MC Chris Rock across the face.
“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 behaviour, and compromising the integrity of the Academy,” read a statement that was issued this morning.
In the statement, the Academy says that “Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused”. The Academy also admitted in the statement that it “could have handled the situation differently”.
In case you’ve had your head in the sand, here is the gist of what happened on Sunday: Comedian Chris Rock was hosting the Academy Awards and about to present the Oscar for best documentary when he made a G.I. Jane joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, who’s head had been shaved due to alopecia. For the record, Pinkett Smith herself has often joked about her condition.
Her husband Will first laughed at the joke, but then stomped to the front of the stage where he slapped Chris Rock hard across the face. Smith then returned to his seat to shout two times to the presenter to “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth”.
Organisers say they asked Smith to leave, but that he insisted on staying on at the event; Smith was being nominated for the best actor award… which he ironically won.
In his speech, Smith began to blubber, apologising to the Academy first, then to friends and family, but not to Chris Rock himself. He later wrote an apology to Rock via social media the next morning.
The Academy has now said Will Smith might be suspended, expelled or sanctioned in some way permitted by its bylaws and standards of conduct. It has also hinted that Smith will not be invited back to the Oscars next year, where the previous year’s best actor ordinarily presents the award for best actress.
NOTE: since this article was published, organisers say they never formally requested Smith be ejected and in any case, show producer Will Packer urged Smith to stay. Packer says he told Smith he should stay at the request of Rock — something Rock’s camp has denied.