Rock briefly mentions Oscar slap, promises ‘serious and funny’ response
Comedian Chris Rock briefly addressed the “slap heard ’round the world” Wednesday evening as he appeared in public for the first time since being smacked on stage at the Oscars by actor Will Smith.
“How was your weekend?” Rock said as he began a worldwide stand-up comedy tour in Boston. “I don’t have a bunch of (expletive) about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I have a whole show I wrote before this weekend.
“I’m still kind of processing what happened. So, at some point I’ll talk about that (expletive). And it will be serious and funny.”
An audience member then chanted “F–k Will Smith!” before Rock continued. “I’m going to tell some jokes. It’s nice to just be out,” he said before beginning his material.
A friend of Rock told the New York Post gossip column Page Six the comedian “isn’t even thinking of suing, he’s focused on his tour.”
Meanwhile, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said in a statement Wednesday that Smith “was asked to leave the ceremony” after the altercation, but he refused to do so.
“We also recognize we could have handled the situation differently,” according to the Academy.
According to the Academy, the Board of Governors on Wednesday formally initiated “disciplinary proceedings” against Smith for violations of the organization’s Standards of Conduct, “including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.”
Smith was being given advance notice of a vote regarding the violations and possible sanctions, and will have a chance to submit a written response, according to the organization.
“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,” according to the Academy.
“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,” the Academy stated.
“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.”
Beyond a possible suspension or expulsion from the Academy, Smith is unlikely to have his best-actor Oscar win for “King Richard” rescinded. The Academy has previously expelled members including Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski and Harvey Weinstein, but none were forced to surrender any previous Oscar wins.
Rock was on the Dolby Theatre stage Sunday night to present the Oscar for best documentary feature, but he made a joke about Smith’s wife — actress Jada Pinkett Smith — and her bald head, suggesting she would be starring in a sequel to “G.I. Jane.”
Pinkett Smith has talked in the past about having the hair-loss condition alopecia.
Smith, who was seated in the front of the theater, walked onto the stage and smacked Rock across the face, then returned to his seat, screaming at Rock twice, telling him to “keep my wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth.”
When he later won the best actor Oscar for “King Richard” — for his portrayal of the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams — he tearfully apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees, but not to Rock.
Smith issued a formal written apology Monday, saying, “Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive.”
“My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally,” he said.
“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. 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. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.
“I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. 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.”
On Tuesday, Jada Pinkett Smith wrote on Instagram: “This is a season for healing and I’m here for it.”
Ticket sales quickly began soaring for Rock’s comedy tour following the Oscars.
“We sold more tickets to see Chris Rock overnight than we did in the past month combined,” ticket company TickPick tweeted Monday.
Rock’s tour, dubbed the “Chris Rock Ego Death World Tour 2022,” will conclude with stops at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood — site of the infamous slap — on Nov. 17 and Nov. 18. He will appear at the Fantasy Springs Resort in Riverside County on April 8.
Meanwhile, reaction continues to mount in Hollywood.
Amy Schumer, who co-hosted Sunday’s ceremony along with Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes, wrote on her Instagram page late Monday that she was “still triggered and traumatized.”
“I love my friend (Rock) and believe he handled it like a pro,” she wrote. “Stayed up there and gave an Oscar to his friend (Questlove) and the whole thing was so disturbing. So much pain in (Smith). Anyway 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, appearing on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show, also said she was “still a little traumatized” by the altercation. She also decried the decision to allow Smith to remain in the Dolby Theatre and accept the Oscar after attacking Rock.
“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,” she said. “You assault somebody, you get escorted out the building and that’s it. For them to let him continue, I thought it was gross. Plus, I wanted to be able to run out after he won and say, ‘Unfortunately, Will couldn’t be here tonight.”‘