After Slap, Oscars Team 'Prepared for Anything'

Crisis response team has 'run many scenarios,' has plans in place, says Academy CEO Bill Kramer
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2023 10:00 AM CST
After Slap, Oscars Team 'Prepared for Anything'
Oscar statue on the red carpet at the Oscars on March 27 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

It was the slap heard round the world—and it's still reverberating. In an effort to avoid another Will Smith-Chris Rock fiasco at the March 12 Oscars, a crisis team will be in place and "prepared for anything," Bill Kramer, CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, tells Time. "Because of last year, we've opened our minds to the many things that can happen," he adds, noting the team has "run many scenarios." Smith slapped host Rock after he made a joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith's bald head. Smith was then allowed to return to his seat and collect the best actor award for his role in King Richard.

Days later, Smith resigned from the Academy, which eventually announced he would be banned from Academy events, including the Oscars, for 10 years. Academy President Janet Yang has acknowledged this response was too slow. Kramer says the crisis team will be prepared to respond "very quickly" to any issue. "Let's hope something doesn't happen and we never have to use these [plans], but we already have frameworks in place that we can modify," he tells Time. He adds that host Jimmy Kimmel "knows how to handle live television" and can "pivot" when things don't go as planned. Kimmel was also host in 2017 when La La Land was mistakenly announced as best picture.

The crisis team has "already been deployed" in response to the surprise best actress nomination of Andrea Riseborough of the indie film To Leslie, who received a late boost from A-list stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston, per the BBC. The outlet reports there was some debate over whether the film's campaign and certain advocates broke Oscars rules in contrasting Riseborough with other potential nominees, including Cate Blanchett and Viola Davis. Davis missed out on a nomination. Within days, the Oscars said it would conduct a review. It later referred to "campaigning tactics that caused concern" but added these did "not rise to the level that the film's nomination should be rescinded." (Read more Oscars stories.)

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