Will Smith refused to leave Oscars after Chris Rock slap: Academy

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·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
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Will Smith hits Chris Rock on stage at the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood
Will Smith hits Chris Rock on stage at the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood. (Photo: Reuters)

Will Smith may face "suspension" or "expulsion" from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for slapping Chris Rock during Sunday's Oscars. The Board of Governors of the body that oversees the awards held an emergency meeting to discuss repercussions for the King Richard star, who just won his first golden statue. According to a new statement on Wednesday, the Academy asked Smith to leave the ceremony but he "refused." The organization admitted they botched the handling of the incident.

"The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy," the Academy statement begins.

"Consistent with the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, as well as California law, Mr. Smith is being provided at least 15 days’ notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response. At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct," it continues.

The Academy apologized to Rock and viewers at home.

"Mr. Smith's actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television. Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event," the statement reads. "Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently."

Yahoo Entertainment reached out to a representative for Smith for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Smith publicly issued an apology to Rock earlier this week, but, according to Rock's brother, has yet to do so privately.

"Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive. My behavior at last night's Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable," Smith wrote on Instagram on Monday. "Jokes at my expense are part of the job, but a joke about Jada's medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally. I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions are not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness."

The actor attacked Rock over a bald joke the comedian made about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who is sporting a shaved head due to alopecia.

"I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world," Smith continued. "I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us. I am a work in progress."

Smith is facing a separate inquiry — and potential disciplinary action — from his peers in SAG-AFTRA, the union representing Hollywood actors.

Rock, who was approached by Los Angeles police officers backstage but declined to press charges, has not issued a statement about the incident — but he just might tonight. Rock is set to kick off his comedy tour in Boston on Wednesday night. The venue's owner Bill Blumenreich told People that Rock is "in a great mood" as he rehearses and has been "all business."

Oscars co-hosts Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes both spoke out against Smith's actions and said they were "triggered."

In a post on Instagram, Schumer wrote, "I love my friend @chrisrock and believe he handled it like a pro. Stayed up there and gave an Oscar to his friend @questlove and the whole thing was so disturbing. So much pain in @willsmith. I'm still in shock and stunned and sad. I'm proud of myself and my co-hosts. But, yeah. Waiting for this sickening feeling to go away from what we all witnessed."

Sykes called out the Academy during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, saying it was "gross" how Smith was allowed to stay in the audience.

"For them to let him stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award, I was like how gross is this? This is just the wrong message. You assault somebody, you get escorted out the building," Sykes said. "For them to let him continue, I thought it was gross."

The comedian said she and her co-hosts, including Regina Hall, deserved an apology. So far, only Rock has given them one. Sykes ran into her friend at an Oscars afterparty.

"The first thing he said was, 'I am so sorry... It was supposed to be your night,'" she recalled.

"I know [Will] apologized to Chris, but I believe that, you know, we were the hosts, right? This is our house, we invited you in ... no one has apologized to us and we worked really hard to put that show together," Sykes told DeGeneres. "The industry itself, I'm like what the hell is this?"