The slap heard ’round the world was – hopefully – a one-hit-wonder.
The Academy is now implementing measures to avoid “unprecedented” spectacles at this year’s 95th Academy Awards on Sunday after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock during the live broadcast last year.
During the ceremony, a “crisis team” will be poised to intervene should anything unanticipated occur, Bill Kramer, the CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, told Time last month.
“We have a whole crisis team, something we’ve never had before, and many plans in place,” he said. “We’ve run many scenarios. So it is our hope that we will be prepared for anything that we may not anticipate right now but that we’re planning for just in case it does happen.”
Jimmy Kimmel, who will be this year’s Oscars host, is vital to the ceremony’s success, Kramer added, applauding the late-night host’s ability to deal “with live TV” because “things don’t always go as planned.”
“So you have a host in place who can really pivot and manage those moments,” Kramer said.
Kimmel, preparing to step into the role as host, jokingly threatened to “beat the s–t” out of anyone who attempts to slap him on stage.
“If somebody comes up on the stage and slaps me?” Kimmel, 55, began in his interview with the Hollywood Reporter this week. “Well, I size them up, and, if I’m bigger than they are, I beat the s–t out of them on television. And if it’s the Rock, I run.”
However, the comedian admitted the buzz around the slap has run its course – in his opinion, it’s “almost boring to joke about at this point.”
“Well, whatever I say about it, it’s going to have to be great, right?” he said, hinting at his opening monologue. “Because so much has been said and there’s so much focus on it. I obviously don’t want to make the whole monologue about that, but it would be ridiculous not to mention it.”
In an interview with People, Kimmel also noted how “shocking” it was, applauding Rock for how gracefully he handled it.
“I mean, to be slapped in the face and to stay that cool is something that Chris should be proud of,” Kimmel said. “Chris’ grandchildren, I hope, will still be proud of that when he’s dead and gone.”
The Academy’s president, Janet Yang, previously admitted the response to Smith’s behavior was “inadequate.” Following the infamous slap, Smith, 54, was banned from attending the awards ceremony for 10 years. The “King Richard” actor, who scored an award for Best Actor that evening, also resigned from the Academy.
“We learned from this that the Academy must be fully transparent and accountable in our actions, and particularly in times of crisis you must act swiftly, compassionately, and decisively for ourselves and for our industry,” she told Variety.
“You should and can expect no less from us going forward,” she added.
Last year, Smith struck Rock, 58, across the face after the comedian and actor cracked a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, who experiences alopecia. He compared the actress to “G.I. Jane” due to her shaved head.
“Keep my wife’s name out of your f–king mouth!” Smith then shouted two times from his seat following the slap.
Rock apparently never received a “private” apology from the award-winning actor, despite Smith’s “public” admission of regret. A source told Daily Mail he “never got a one-on-one private apology from Will, only the public one which really meant nothing.”
“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” Smith said in his initial teary-eyed apology. “I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be.”
He later posted a video months later in July, claiming that Rock was “not ready to talk” about the incident.
Rock, though, blasted the infamous pop culture phenomenon in his newest Netflix stand-up special “Selective Outrage.”
“Everybody called that man a bitch,” Rock said, referring to the commentary surrounding Smith’s pre-Oscars marital issues. “And who’d he hit? Me! A n – – a he knows he could beat. That is some bitch-ass s – – t.”