Will Smith has been banned from any event at the Hollywood Film Academy for a decade. This Friday, the organization has communicated the punishment decided for the actor for having hit the comedian Chris Rock the night of the Oscars after a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. “For a period of 10 years, beginning April 8, Mr. Smith will not be able to participate in any event or program, in person or virtually,” the president of the academy, David Rubin, says in an open letter, and the CEO, Dawn Hudson. The institution thus closes its doors to the latest winner of the Oscar for best actor.
Will Smith has assumed the punishment imposed. “I accept and respect the decision of the Academy,” the actor said through a spokesman. The sanction adopted by the group of governors of the organization in an emergency meeting does not prevent him from being nominated for an Oscar again during the time of the veto. Smith received his first nomination for But in 2001, the second in 2006 by Looking for happiness. The third came 15 years later and was the one that earned him the statuette.
Smith anticipated the Academy’s decision last Friday, when he announced that he was resigning as a member of the body. “I betrayed the trust of the academy and deprived the nominees and winners of an opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work,” the actor said in a statement. The Oscar winner claimed to have a “broken heart”, although in this way he avoided joining the dishonorable list of five names, the academics expelled after the emergence of the Me Too movement: the producer and distributor Harvey Weinstein, the comedian Bill Cosby, the director Roman Polanski and the cinematographer of Capote Y Never leave me, Adam Kimmel, who has been prosecuted for having sex with minors. Previously, in 2004, the academy expelled the actor Carmine Caridi, one of the secondary of The Godfather, for lending a friend the VHS tapes and DVDs that production companies distributed so that academics could see their films. That friend turned out to be one of the most famous movie pirates.
In the text published this Friday, Rubin and Hudson apologize for not having handled the situation “properly” on the night of the Oscars, on the 27th in Los Angeles. “This was an opportunity for us to set an example with our guests and viewers, and we fell short by not being prepared for the unexpected,” the statement said. The best standing that night, seems to be the general consensus, was Rock himself, who went ahead with the delivery of the Oscar for best documentary feature. The president of the organization thanked the comedian for having maintained his “composure” after the attack.
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The academy intends with its decision to put an end to almost two weeks of controversy. But the acts and conversations from Smith’s slap in the face to Rock until the former won the best actor statuette for Williams method. Rubin said last week that the academy asked Smith to leave after the hit and he refused. This version was later denied to the magazine Variety by people close to the actor. According to various sources, the interpreter received mixed messages.
Thursday, Los Angeles Times recreated in a report the tense minutes that followed Smith’s attack. The newspaper, which interviewed a dozen people present, said that Rubin and Dawn Hudson, the CEO of the academy, got up from their seats and met 10 minutes after the slap. They asked Rock how he was doing and went in search of Smith’s publicist, Meredith O’Sullivan. A lawyer met them in a room. A message came out of the meeting for the actor, the academy wanted him out of the theater as soon as possible. O’Sullivan was supposed to pass the message to her client during a commercial break. When he did, however, it was in the form of a question. “The academy thinks you should leave, what do you think?” The publicist formulated, according to the newspaper. Smith said he preferred to stay because he wanted to clean up the mess with his speech if he won the trophy.
The ceremony’s producer, Will Packer, approached O’Sullivan and Smith moments before the category statuette was handed out to deliver one final mixed message: “Officially, we want him to stay.” Some sources believe that Packer, who was headlining the production for ABC for the first time, made this comment on his behalf and at his risk to save the night one last emotionally charged television moment. That is to say, the speech, Oscar in hand, of a Smith bathed in tears. This was the high point of the broadcast.