With the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences set to determine Friday whether Will Smith will be stripped of his Best Actor Oscar after slapping comedian Chris Rock on the show’s stage, it appears there may be a split among those making the decision.
The organization’s 54-member board of governors will make the ultimate call – but are having a difficult time coming to a consensus and are ‘almost entirely split,’ a source told The Sun.
Many said their hesitation toward taking the drastic step of rescinding Smith’s Oscar was based on the fact that sexual predators Harvey Weinstein and Roman Polanski have not had their Oscars taken away.
‘The decision was made earlier this week to expedite the hearing in the wake of Will’s resignation, and during that call it was clear that the decision would go to the wire.’
‘The general consensus is that it would be madness and rank hypocrisy to take such a stand now,’ the source said. ‘But, as we all know, Hollywood is a law unto itself, frankly.’
The academy’s 9,000 members are also apparently split on the decision, the source said.
The discussion is going on in ‘hundreds’ of WhatsApp groups containing the thousands of members.
The board of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will meet this Friday to discuss how to punish Will Smith for his onstage assault of Chris Rock at this year’s Oscars ceremony. Above, Smith dances at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Los Angeles on March 27
Academy President David Rubin moved up a meeting originally scheduled for April 18 to this Friday, citing Smith’s recent resignation from the Academy. Above, Rubin at the 2022 Governors Awards
Infamous: Rock was slapped by Smith after making a joke about wife Jada’s bald head while presenting Best Documentary at the Oscars last Sunday
David Rubin, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, told the board Wednesday that he’s moving a meeting originally scheduled for April 18 to this Friday at 9 a.m. PST.
‘Following Mr. Smith’s resignation of his Academy membership on Friday, April 1, suspension or expulsion are no longer a possibility, and the legally prescribed timetable no longer applies.
‘It is in the best interest of all involved for this to be handled in a timely fashion,’ he wrote in a letter.
The board has a few punishments it could hand out. They could make Smith ineligible for future awards or bar him from attending future ceremonies temporarily or permanently.
They could also strip Smith, 53, of the Academy Award for best actor that he won less than an hour after the on-stage assault – though the last time the board rescinded an award was more than 50 years ago.
Rubin said the meeting was only originally scheduled for April 18 to give Smith enough notice, which is no longer necessary, according to Variety, which first published Rubin’s letter.
The virtual meeting will take place over Zoom.
The Academy has only rescinded one Oscar. In 1969, it found that the documentary Young Americans, which won best documentary that year, had actually been released in 1967.
Smith resigned from the Academy on Friday, calling his actions during the ceremony ‘shocking, painful and inexcusable’ and adding that he’d accept any punishment doled out to him by the board.
‘The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home,’ Smith said.
‘I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.’
Though the board could technically take back his statuette – given for his portrayal of tennis coach Richard Williams in King Richard – there’s little precedent for such a drastic move.
Speaking on The View the day after the March 27 ceremony, actress Whoopi Goldberg, who is a serving Governor for the Academy’s Actors branch, defended Will’s actions, reasoning that ‘sometimes you behave badly.’
Smith slapped Rock, 57, in front of the world on live television after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith’s hair loss, caused by alopecia.
Pinkett-Smith supported her husband after he defended her by striding to stage to smack Rock
Whoopi said on Monday’s show: ‘I think it was a lot of stuff probably built up.
‘I think he overreacted… I think he had one of those moments where it was like [God damn] it, just stop. I get it, not everybody acts the way we would like them to act under pressure. And he snapped…
‘Sometimes you get to a point when you behave badly. I myself have behaved badly on occasion.’
Whoopi’s co-host Sunny Hostin said that she was ‘surprised [Will] wasn’t escorted out’, and questioned if there was the possibility of Smith’s Oscar being taken away.
Whoopi replied: ‘We’re not going to take that Oscar from him.
‘There will be consequences I’m sure, but I don’t think that’s what they’re going to do, particularly because Chris said, ‘Listen, I’m not pressing any charges.”
Apology: Will has since apologized in an Instagram post, stating that he was ’embarrassed’ by his actions, which shocked the ceremony attendees, producers and viewers
Speaking to Us Weekly, an unnamed insider said Pinkett-Smith wishes her husband never slapped Rock.
‘It was in the heat of the moment and it was him overreacting,’ the source said. ‘He knows that, she knows that. They’re in agreement that he overreacted.’
They also alleged that Pinkett Smith is ‘not a wallflower’, nor ‘one of these women that needs protecting’.
‘He didn’t need to do what he did,’ they added.
Rock, on the other hand, has barely addressed the assault at his stand-up gigs.
Appearing at a surprise set at New York’s Comedy Cellar on Tuesday night, Rock said: ‘Lower your expectations, I’m not going to address that s***,’ a source told Page Six.
Earlier that day, he was spotted walking around the city by himself. The 57-year-old comedian walked with his hands in his bomber jacket Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile his 42-year-old younger brother Kenny told the Los Angeles Times that he has trouble repeatedly watching the now infamous moment involving his brother from last week’s Oscars ceremony. He said Smith should be stripped of the Best Actor trophy.
Tough times: Chris Rock was spotted Tuesday looking somber on a solo outing in New York City after his brother slammed Will Smith and said the Academy should strip him of his Oscar
‘It eats at me’: Meanwhile his 42-year-old younger brother Kenny told the Los Angeles Times that he has had trouble repeatedly watching the now infamous moment involving his brother from last week’s Oscars ceremony
Bond: Chris is seen with brother Kenny in an Instagram post
He said: ‘It eats at me watching it over and over again because you’ve seen a loved one being attacked and there’s nothing you can do about it.
‘Every time I’m watching the videos, it’s like a rendition that just keeps going over and over in my head.’
Kenny continued to express his distaste for the A-list actor’s actions.
He said: ‘My brother was no threat to him and you just had no respect for him at that moment.
‘You just belittled him in front of millions of people that watch the show.’