The Hong Kong Telegraph - Will Smith refused to leave Oscars after Rock slap: Academy

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Will Smith refused to leave Oscars after Rock slap: Academy
Will Smith refused to leave Oscars after Rock slap: Academy

Will Smith refused to leave Oscars after Rock slap: Academy

Will Smith refused to leave the Oscars ceremony after attacking comedian Chris Rock, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed Wednesday, as it began disciplinary action against the mega star.

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Smith had been asked to leave the Dolby Theatre after marching onstage and hitting Rock for a joke about his wife's hair. Moments after the shocking episode, he was handed the best actor award to a standing ovation.

"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," a statement said.

The Academy, the body that hands out the Oscars, said it had begun disciplinary proceedings against Smith over the globally televised assault, which marred Hollywood's most important evening.

"The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Will Smith for violations of the Academy's Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy," the statement said.

"Mr. Smith is being provided at least 15 days' notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response.

"At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct."

The group is under intense pressure to respond appropriately to the open-handed slap, which has dominated coverage of the glitzy awards and taken the spotlight from several notable firsts -- including for the mainly deaf cast of "CODA," who won best picture.

- Joke -

Attendees of the ceremony Sunday watched agape as Smith stormed onstage and hit Rock, who had cracked a joke about his actress wife's closely cropped hairstyle.

Jada Pinkett Smith has alopecia, a condition that causes her to lose hair.

The audience was initially unsure if the powerful slap was part of a skit, until Smith shouted profanities from his seat.

Rock managed to keep the gala on track, but the atmosphere at the event had shifted unmistakably.

Moments later, when accepting the movie world's highest honor for an actor, Smith tearfully claimed: "Love will make you do crazy things."

The star of "King Richard" subsequently apologized to Rock in an Instagram post, and Pinkett Smith posted on the platform that now was "a season for healing."

Rock, who has not spoken publicly since the episode, was due to perform to a sold-out crowd in Boston later Wednesday.

Tickets for the show were being advertised on secondary markets for hundreds of dollars above their face value.

Ticketing site TickPick said Monday it had sold more tickets for Rock's tour in the preceding 24 hours than in the whole previous month.

- 'Traumatized' -

Oscars' co-host Wanda Sykes, one of three women whose turn at the helm of the show has been widely praised, revealed Wednesday she felt physically sick after the attack and thought Smith should have been ejected.

"It was sickening. It was absolutely -- I physically felt ill, and I'm still a little traumatized by it," she told talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

"And for them to let (Smith) stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award, I was like, 'How gross is this?' This sends the wrong message.

"If you assault somebody, you get escorted out the building and that's it. But for them to let him continue, I thought it was gross," she said.

She also told DeGeneres that she had spoken to Rock after the show.

"The first thing he said is, 'I'm so sorry.' I was like, 'Why are you apologizing?' He was like, 'It was supposed to be your night.

"'You and Amy (Schumer) and Regina (Hall) were doing such a great job. I'm so sorry this is now gonna be about this,'" Sykes said Rock told her.