A producer for the 2023 Oscars explains how the awards ceremony will address Will Smith’s now-infamous slap. During the 2022 Oscars ceremony last year, Smith rose from the audience and slapped presenter Chris Rock on-stage after he made a joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith’s shaved head, which stems from her alopecia diagnosis. Later that evening, Smith accepted the award for Best Actor, and used his speech to apologize to the Academy and to the other nominees for the outburst. Smith would publicly apologize to Rock via social media the next day.
At a press conference (via Variety), Oscars executive producer Molly McNearney says that this year’s awards will acknowledge the slap jokingly, but that the show won’t focus too heavily on the incident. While McNearney says that there is the opportunity to make light of the incident, the Academy doesn’t want the 2023 Oscars to be all about the previous year and its scandal. However, with Smith having resigned from the Academy following the slap, it would be impossible to gloss over it in this year’s presentation. Read McNearney’s full comment below:
“We’re going to acknowledge it, and then we’re gonna move on. We don’t want to make this year about last year. It’s certainly something we can and will address in a comedic fashion.”
How the Smith-Rock Slap Has Affected the Oscars
While the Academy wants to only briefly acknowledge the slap, the Oscars’ creative team has admitted that significant changes had to be made for this year’s ceremony after last year’s incident. Smith won the award for Best Actor in 2022, meaning that typically, he would be presenting the award to the 2023 recipient. However, with Smith no longer a member of the Academy and having been banned from the Oscars for 10 years, this will not be possible. Instead, the team had to get creative, with showrunner Ricky Kirshner saying “we’ve rethought the show and we’ve got presenters that make sense for the categories.”
Alongside changes to the presenter lineup for the 2023 Oscars, the Smith-Rock slap also changed how the Oscars will operate as a live-television event. Kirshner has said that because of last year, the Oscars now has a full crisis team that will be responsible for responding to any unplanned incidents on the live broadcast. Kirshner says that while he hopes there will be no need for the crisis team going forwards, having one in place ensures that any crises are dealt with in a professional, timely manner.
Though Smith’s slap isn’t the first shocking event to happen on a major live television event, the incident has become synonymous with the 2022 Oscars, and has certainly changed audience expectations of the show going forwards. With a crisis team now in place, the Academy is in a better position to deal with unexpected incidents like the slap going forwards. Though it remains to be seen how the Oscars will joke about the incident, it’s a relief to many that the infamous slap will be addressed publicly at all.
Next: What Will Smith’s Oscars Ban Means: Can He Still Win Another Oscar?Source: Variety