Academy Accused Of Lying About Asking Will Smith To Leave The Oscars

As speculation continues to swirl over what exactly went down at the Oscars on Sunday night, the film academy has been accused of lying when it said actor Will Smith was asked to leave the awards ceremony after he assaulted comedian Chris Rock.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Wednesday that the actor refused to leave Hollywood’s Dolby Theater after slapping the comedian on stage. The academy, responding to questions over why Smith was allowed to remain seated at the front of the audience, also said it was initiating disciplinary proceedings against him.

But according to unnamed sources who spoke to TMZ and Variety in reports published Thursday, Smith, a lead actor nominee, was never actually asked to leave. According to the reports, there was division among academy officials on whether to remove Smith, and the mixed messages never led to a consensus.

A Monday CNN report also squared with that version of events.

“Academy leadership strongly considered removing Will Smith from last night’s broadcast following the incident,” a source told CNN. “There were immediate discussions but the Academy decision makers were seated in various spots in the Dolby Theater and couldn’t mobilize to make a decision before he won best actor.”

The academy and representatives of Smith did not immediately return requests for comment.

During a discussion Thursday on “The View” about the debacle, co-host Whoopi Goldberg, a member of the academy’s board of governors, said she was not at the event but believed Smith was asked to leave. She suggested producers did not physically remove him over fears he would cause a scene.

Smith won the lead actor honor soon after the incident, for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams, in “King Richard.” He made tearful apologies during his acceptance speech, although not to Rock, and received a standing ovation.

The academy said disciplinary action against Smith could include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions.

Smith walked onto the stage and hit Rock after the comedian made a “G.I. Jane” joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who sports a shaved head after struggling with the effects of hair loss. He then walked back to his seat and yelled obscenities at Rock.

Smith posted an apology to Rock on Instagram the following day.

Comments are closed.