It was the calm before the storm. Two years ago, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s entertainment venture, Westbrook, was thriving. The production company behind the popular Facebook watch show, Red Table Talk, Peacock’s Bel-Air, the Oscar-nominated film King Richard and a slew of series for major streaming services was doing so well, the couple hoped to sell it for $1 billion to the same company that bought Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine company, according to a new report on Semafor. But when Westbrook was valued at $600 million — almost half of what the Smiths were anticipating, claims the report — the deal fell apart.
Then came The Slap. In March 2022, Will stormed the stage during the Academy Awards and physically assaulted presenter Chris Rock, 58, after the comedian made a joke about Jada, 52 — all as an audience of millions watched. “It couldn’t have come at a worse time,” a source exclusively tells In Touch. Though Will, 55, won an Oscar for his King Richard performance minutes after the attack and later publicly apologized, people couldn’t stop talking about the debacle, which the source says has affected the troubled couple’s relationship — and their bottom line. “Will and Jada’s empire is hurting. It’s cash-crunch time, which has them scrambling to cut back on expenses and also work more to make more money so they’re not in the red,” says the source. “They’re trying not to panic, but they’re having a run of bad luck.”
In the wake of The Slap drama, claims the report, Westbrook has struggled to score new deals, revenue has dropped dramatically, and they’ve had to lay off half the staff at the company. On top of that, Meta canceled Jada’s popular Red Table Talk after Facebook decided to shut down its Facebook Watch original programs. (Westbrook reps deny any dealmaking issues, attributes layoffs to 2023’s writers’ and actors’ strikes, and says there are offers to move Red Table Talk elsewhere.)
Feeling the Heat
But it’s not just what happened at the Oscars. “Jada’s explosive book revelations, including that she and Will secretly separated, haven’t helped,” says the source, referring to Jada’s memoir, Worthy, which included the shocking confirmation that she and Will have been living apart since 2016 and were in fact separated when he slapped Chris. “And Will is not bringing in multimillion-dollar paychecks for his films like he used to. Plus their $42 million mega-mansion in Calabasas [California] is super expensive to run, and ongoing renovations have been costing them a fortune.”
Will and Jada are staying positive. Jada insists they have no plans to divorce, “and they aren’t afraid of hard work,” says the source. “Yes, they’re separated, but they still consider themselves an important team and a force in Hollywood. Time will tell if that proves to be the case.”