Movie Academy CEO Bill Kramer said there is “a whole crisis team” in place for the Academy Awards next — a first for the ceremony in its 95 years.
The move is another reaction to Will Smith’s infamous face-slap of Chris Rock as the latter was about to present the Best Documentary Oscar.
In an interview with Time magazine, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chief Kramer said, “we have a whole crisis team, something we’ve never had before, and many plans in place. 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.”
He added: “Because of last year, we’ve opened our minds to the many things that can happen at the Oscars. But these crisis plans — the crisis communication teams and structures we have in place — allow us to say, ‘This is the group that we have to gather very quickly. This is how we all come together. This is the spokesperson. This will be the statement.’ And obviously, depending on the specifics of the crisis, and let’s hope something doesn’t happen and we never have to use these, but we already have frameworks in place that we can modify.”
At the 94th Oscars last year, Rock made a “G.I. Jane 2″ crack about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith having very little hair on her head. Smith then walked onstage and smacked Rock across the face, prompting the stunned comic to say, “Wow, Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me.” As the Academy officials, the Dolby Theater crowd and millions watching on TV tried to digest what they’d just seen, Smith returned to his seat and yelled at Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out your f*cking mouth,” twice.
Smith later would return to the stage to pick up a Best Actor Oscar for King Richard, but the fallout was swift.
The Academy, which would take flak over its perceived lack of immediate action, issued a statement later that night saying it “does not condone violence in any form,” and Smith apologized the next day. Many other people and groups condemned the slap, and comedians rallied around Rock. A “heartbroken” Smith soon resigned from the Academy days later, and a week later AMPAS banned him from the Oscars for 10 years.
The 95th annual Academy Awards will be handed out March 12 at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.