Jay Leno Calls Out The Academy For Saying They Were Going To ‘Investigate’ The Will Smith Slap Incident

By now we’ve heard a lot of varying takes on Will Smith slapping Chris Rock during the 2022 Oscars ceremony, and even some about the Academy’s response to the matter, but one take we hadn’t heard was Jay Leno’s. The former late night host recently opened up about his own feelings while watching the broadcast, but he also had a candid take on how the members of the Academy responded afterward. 

Jay Leno opened up about his own take on Will Smith’s actions against Chris Rock during the Oscars broadcast earlier this year. He noted the “yelling of the obscenities” was what really stood out to him when the moment aired, but ultimately said he’s found Will Smith to be a “good guy” during previous interactions. In the time since, though, he doesn’t really understand the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which had stated an investigation was underway about the incident before making its final ruling. Jay Leno called out the move, telling the Palm Beach Daily News,

What are you investigating? It had to be the most recorded assault in history. I saw the back of his shoe, I saw Chris’ ear. There were so many cameras on this incident. What are you investigating? I know sometimes things are just what they appear to be.

Many of us saw Smith slap Rock live on the air after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith. Reportedly unbeknownst to the comedian, Pinkett Smith had shaved her head after struggling with alopecia for years. Her husband got mad about a joke Rock made comparing the Gotham actress to a star in a G.I. Jane sequel, harkening back to a time when Demi Moore shaved her head for that film. He stayed for the rest of the Oscars broadcast and ultimately won Best Actor for his work in King Richard, but days afterward Will Smith resigned from the Academy. Afterward, Chris Rock declined to press charges.

The Academy released a statement noting it would be looking into what happened. While Jay Leno called this “investigating,” how the Academy put it was more of a “formal review.” An official statement listed in late March mentioned:

We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.

Ultimately, Smith was banned from the Oscars for a period of 10 years. This means he can still be eligible for an Oscars nomination or even a win, but he will no longer be able to vote as a member of the Academy (after resigning) and he won’t be able to attend the awards for a decade (after the Academy’s review). While Leno seemingly takes umbrage with the fanfare over what happened after the broadcast aired, at the end of the day, the matter is seemingly resolving and moving forward. 

Now, we just need to wait and see what happens with the two Will Smith movies that were paused following the incident. Since one of those is the hotly anticipated Bad Boys 4, I’m very interested in what happens on that front. 

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.