The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on Friday that Will Smith would be barred from attending the Oscars for 10 years because of the “harmful behavior” he displayed when he struck the comedian Chris Rock during last month’s ceremony.
The ban came a week after the actor resigned from the organization following his violent outburst on the Oscar stage on March 27.
In an open letter released after a morning meeting of the academy’s 54 governors, the group’s president, David Rubin, and its chief executive, Dawn Hudson, also called Mr. Smith’s behavior “unacceptable” and admitted to not handling the situation properly during the telecast.
For this, we are sorry,” said the statement. “This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented.”
The Academy went on to praise Mr. Rock for “maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances” and thanks others involved for “their poise and grace during our telecast.”
Before Mr. Smith resigned, the organization had been considering expelling or suspending the actor, who walked onto the Oscar stage in the middle of the ceremony and slapped Mr. Rock for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, before returning to his seat, where he shouted expletives that were bleeped out of the live television broadcast. Mr. Smith was allowed to remain in the Dolby Theater, and soon after his outburst he won the Academy Award for best actor, and received a standing ovation.
Conflicting accounts of what happened after the outburst have plagued the academy, which has been criticized for not immediately removing Mr. Smith from the theater. The group, in its defense, said last week that they asked Mr. Smith to leave but he refused.
The telecast’s producer, Will Packer, later said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that although Mr. Smith had been asked to leave the ceremony, Mr. Packer had urged the academy leadership not to “physically remove” him from the theater in the middle of the live broadcast.
Mr. Packer said that after he learned there were discussions of plans to physically remove Mr. Smith from the venue, he approached academy officials and told them that he believed Mr. Rock did not want to “make a bad situation worse.”
But someone close to Mr. Rock who was granted anonymity to speak while the academy’s inquiry into the incident was underway said that Mr. Rock was never asked directly if he wanted Mr. Smith removed.
The academy is hopeful that today’s actions will put to rest this incident, which has played out in the media over the past week and overshadowed the many accolades handed out at the annual telecast.
“This action we are taking today in response to Will Smith’s behavior is a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring trust in the Academy. We also hope this can begin a time of healing and restoration for all involved and impacted.”
Culled from: New York Times