The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is not telling the whole truth about its role in the slap heard around the world, according to a new report.
Citing multiple sources who were at the 2022 edition of the awards show, TMZ said Thursday that the Oscar-winning King Richard actor was “never” asked to leave the ceremony. Instead, their sources (including three individuals who are claimed to have been at the ceremony) said that Oscars officials were “split” on whether to take such action or to have him stay for the duration of the festivities.
A separate Variety report, offers even more context. More specifically, the publication’s sources were cited Thursday as disputing any claims of Smith having been formerly asked to leave. Producer Will Packer, notably, is described in the Variety report as “the key” to the actor having stayed at the ceremony following the slap.
Elsewhere, a source described as someone “familiar with the Academy” claimed that an “on-site representative” had asked Smith to leave. This alleged ask was reportedly at the behest of Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson.
Complex has reached out to the Academy for comment, as well as to a rep for Will Smith.
Tucked in at the bottom of Thursday’s Variety report is word that Rock’s team reportedly wasn’t contacted (or formally apologized to) before the Academy released its latest statement on the slap. That statement, as previously reported, saw the Academy alleging that Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and had “refused.” Wednesday, the Academy’s Board of Governors held a meeting during which potential disciplinary actions against Smith—including, possibly, expulsion—were discussed.
“At some point I’ll talk about that shit. And it will be serious and funny,” Rock told fans at a stand-up show this week when quickly addressing the Oscars slap.
In short, if these latest reports are indeed providing a more thorough look at how things transpired post-slap, it sounds like officials never came to a firm agreement on what the immediate response would be to the televised moment.