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Academy bars Will Smith from Oscars for 10 years after slap

LOS ANGELES — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Friday that Will Smith will be banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years because of “harmful behavior” he exhibited when he punched comedian Chris Rock. at the ceremony last month.

The ban came a week after the actor resigned from the organization following his violent outburst on the Oscars stage on March 27.

In an open letter published after a morning meeting of the academy’s 54 governors, group chairman David Rubin and chief executive Dawn Hudson also called Mr Smith’s behavior ‘unacceptable’ and admitted no not having properly handled the situation during the telecast. .

“For this, we are sorry,” the statement read. “It was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short – unprepared for the unprecedented.”

Mr Smith said in a statement that “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision”.

The academy then praised Mr Rock for “keeping his composure in extraordinary circumstances” and thanked others involved for “their poise and grace during our TV show”.

Mr Smith had appeared to anticipate the possibility that he would not be welcome at future ceremonies in the emotional and polarizing acceptance speech he gave after winning the Best Actor Oscar, which he finished in saying, “I hope the academy invites me back. Thank you.”

Excluding Mr Smith from next year’s ceremony means he will not be allowed to present the Oscar for Best Actress, upending a tradition in which the previous year’s Best Actor awards Best Actress , and vice versa.

The punishment could also spell trouble for the upcoming film “Emancipation,” a $100 million drama for Apple. The film, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Mr. Smith as a runaway slave who joins the Union Army, is in post-production and has already been touted as a potential awards contender.

Prior to Mr Smith’s resignation, the organization had considered expelling or suspending the actor, who took to the Oscars stage in the middle of the ceremony and slapped Mr Rock for making a joke about his wife , Jada Pinkett Smith, before returning to his seat, where he shouted expletives that were broadcast over the live television broadcast. Mr Smith was allowed to stay at the Dolby Theater and shortly after his outburst he won the Best Actor Oscar and received a standing ovation.

Conflicting accounts of what happened after the explosion plagued the academy, which was criticized for not immediately removing Mr Smith from the theatre. The group, in its defence, said last week it asked Mr Smith to leave but he refused.

Broadcast producer Will Packer later said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” ​​that although Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony, Mr. Packer had urged the management of the academy not to “physically remove” him from the theatre. in the middle of the live broadcast.

Mr Packer said that after learning there were talks of plans to physically remove Mr Smith from the venue, he approached academy officials and told them he believed Mr Rock didn’t want to “make a bad situation worse”.

But a person close to Mr Rock who was granted anonymity to speak while the academy’s investigation into the incident was ongoing said Mr Rock was never asked directly if he wanted that Mr. Smith be fired.

The academy hopes today’s actions will put an end to this incident, which has played out in the media over the past week and overshadowed the many accolades bestowed on the annual telecast.

“This action we are taking today in response to Will Smith’s behavior is a step towards a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring confidence in the Academy. We also hope that this can initiate a period of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.

matt steven contributed reporting from New York.


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