Photo: PATRICK T. FALLON / Contributor via Getty Images
  /  03.14.2023

An estimated 18.7 million viewers tuned in to watch the Oscars on Sunday (March 12) evening, which was 12 percent more than last year. Part of the added wave of watchers could have possibly been people wanting to see how The Academy would respond to Will Smith’s infamous onstage slap from March 27, 2022.

It turns out, The Academy chose not to make a huge deal out of it. “We didn’t want to make this year all about last year,” Oscars producer Molly McNearney told Variety on Monday (March 13). The creative is also married to comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who hosted the 2023 ceremony. While some thought his jabs toward Smith were too much, McNearney assured the masses that his bit was actually toned down.

“I cannot tell you how many Will Smith jokes we had that we got rid of. We think that only the best for that room made it. There were certainly some that went harder, but we didn’t think that was our place to do that. That should be Chris Rock, not us,” McNearney shared. “But we really liked the idea of making fun of the reaction to it last year. I think we’re all still in a bit of shock of how that went down and how after watching that violence everyone had to then sit through an acceptance speech,” Kimmel’s wife added.

One of the televised jokes aimed at Smith said, “If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during this show, you will be awarded the Oscar for Best Actor and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech.” Another referenced the West Philadelphia born-and-raised entertainer’s 2005 rom-com. “Hopefully it goes off this time without a hitch, or at least without Hitch,” Kimmel quipped before the crowd. At the end of the show, as the credits began to roll, Kimmel approached a sign that read, “Number of Oscar Telecasts Without Incident” and changed the zero to a one.

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