With less than a month until the 2023 Oscars are set to take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, the Academy has implemented a new crisis team to prevent last year’s infamous slap from happening again. Bill Kramer, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO, confirmed the news in his interview with Time magazine.
“We have a whole crisis team, something we’ve never had before, and many plans in place,” Kramer said. “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.”
The implementation of a crisis team comes one year after audience members and viewers at home watched Oscars-winner Will Smith walk onto the show’s stage and slap then-host Chris Rock across the face after he made a comment that referred to Jada Pinkett-Smith’s head.
“Because of [the slap] last year, we’ve opened our minds to the many things that can happen at the Oscars,” Kramer continued. “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.”
At the 2022 Oscars, Rock made a controversial joke about Pinkett-Smith’s bald head, which she shaved following her alopecia diagnosis, as he presented the Best Documentary Feature category. After the slap, Smith walked and sat back down in his seat. While there, he repeatedly screamed at Rock to “Keep my wife’s name out your f**king mouth!” Afterward, Smith remained in the audience section as he later accepted his Best Actor Oscar for his performance in King Richard.
“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,” Kramer added.
On April 1, five days after the incident, Smith released a statement as he resigned from the Academy. “I betrayed the trust of the Academy,” he wrote. “I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.”
It took the Academy a little longer to decide how to proceed. They later announced that Smith was banned from attending the Oscars ceremonies for 10 years, and his AMPAS membership was revoked.
Earlier this month, AMPAS President Janet Yang spoke at the 2023 Oscars nominees luncheon and acknowledged where their response team went wrong as she reflected on last year’s occurrence.
“I’m sure you all remember we experienced an unprecedented event at the Oscars,” Yang told attendees. “What happened onstage was fully unacceptable, and the response from our organization was inadequate. We learned from this that the Academy must be fully transparent and accountable in our actions, and particularly in times of crisis, you must act swiftly, compassionately, and decisively for ourselves and for our industry. You should and can expect no less from us going forward.”