One Major Way The Oscars Will Be Different This Year Following Will Smith's Slap

Will Smith and Chris Rock at the 94th Academy Awards
(Image credit: Entertainment Tonight)

What happened at last year’s Oscars was notable and I’m not talking about the well-deserved Best Picture winner. When Will Smith slapped Chris Rock live at the 94th Academy Awards for a joke he made about his wife’s baldness, it was one of the biggest talked about Oscars scandals of all time. Now, the Oscars boss has revealed a crisis team has been formed in response to the situation.

When Chris Rock was in the middle of presenting the award for Best Documentary Feature, he looked over at Jada Pinkett Smith and referred to her as “G.I. Jane” for her bald look, seemingly without realizing she had the hair-falling disorder alopecia. An angered Will Smith defended his wife with a big slap in the face to Rock, went back to his seat, and yelled out to the comedian presenter, “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth!” Despite appearing a bit disturbed, Rock continued to go on with the evening presenting the award. 

There was chaos in the venue and it was unclear how the show should proceed, and the Oscars would seemingly not like that to happen again. in fact,  Time spoke with the Oscar’s newest CEO Bill Kramer, who revealed a crisis team has been formed for the first time in Academy Awards history because of last year’s Oscars brouhaha.

Because of last year, we've opened our minds to the many things that can happen at the Oscars. But these crisis plans—the crisis communication teams and structures we have in place—allow us to say this is the group that we have to gather very quickly. This is how we all come together. This is the spokesperson. This will be the statement. And obviously depending on the specifics of the crisis, and let's hope something doesn't happen and we never have to use these, but we already have frameworks in place that we can modify.

The Academy recently admitted they didn’t handle the Will Smith slap very well. The group has declared it has learned from this moment and will take swift action going forward if incidences like this were to repeat themselves. This surprising moment left those at the ceremony and others watching at home in shock, but it left members of its audience in shock as well, with Dame Judi Dench and others reporting they thought it was a "joke" at first.  

This year, Kramer has felt assured this year’s ceremony will run smoothly thanks to Jimmy Kimmel coming on as host. With his experience in live TV and the light-hearted humor the talk show host brings to the table, Kramer believes audiences will feel “safe” with his presence there.

Right after the Oscars slap moment, the Board had a big meeting to discuss how to handle the event as Will Smith’s resignation from the Academy made the choice clear there was no need to suspend or expel him. However, a decision was still made for the blockbuster actor’s punishment to be banned from the Oscars for ten years. This Oscar ban means that the Best Actor winner will not be allowed to step foot inside the Oscars ceremony for the next decade, but can still be nominated and win awards for his performances. This year’s Academy Awards will be the first ceremony without Smith in attendance since the ban was set.

Will Smith is gradually stepping back into the Hollywood spotlight in terms of his acting career. After many apologies later and being in isolation for a few months, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star has been promoting the release of his new movie Emancipation which you can find on your Apple TV+ subscription. Chris Rock has since returned to the Dolby Theatre where the Oscars slap took place and in his usual comedic fashion told jokes about the incident. The Academy reached out to the stand-up comic about hosting the 2023 Awards with Rock responding in his stand-up there’s a good chance he will not make an appearance this year.

Post-slap security will not be the only change made at this year’s ceremony as Bill Kramer plans on bringing back the technical awards that weren’t broadcasted last year as well as adding fun live performances. We can all cross our fingers no drama will be had at the 95th Academy Awards which will air live at the Dolby Theatre on March 12th on ABC. 

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.