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Will Smith refused to leave after Oscars slap, says Academy; Chris Rock kicks off comedy tour

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“The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr Will Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behaviour, and compromising the integrity of the Academy,” the statement said.

“Mr Smith is being provided at least 15 days’ notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response.

“At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.”

Will Smith strikes Chris Rock across the face at the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood on March 27, 2022. Photo: Reuters

Will Smith strikes Chris Rock across the face at the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood on March 27, 2022. Photo: Reuters

The group is under intense pressure to respond appropriately to the slap, which has dominated coverage of the glitzy awards and taken the spotlight from several notable firsts – including for the mainly deaf cast of CODA, who won best picture.

Expulsion from the exclusive club is rare, but not unheard of: Harvey Weinstein was kicked out in 2017 after reports emerged of decades of sexual assault.

Director Roman Polanski was expelled in 2019 after years of controversy about his 1978 conviction for the rape of a 13-year-old girl.

Neither man had their Oscar wins rescinded.

Attendees of the ceremony Sunday watched agape as Smith stormed onstage and hit Rock, who had cracked a joke about his actress wife’s closely cropped hairstyle.

Jada Pinkett Smith has alopecia, a condition that causes her to lose hair.

The audience was initially unsure if the powerful slap was part of a skit, until Smith shouted profanities from his seat.

Rock managed to keep the gala on track, but the atmosphere at the event had shifted unmistakably.

Less than half an hour later, when accepting the movie world’s highest honour for an actor, Smith tearfully claimed: “Love will make you do crazy things.”

The star of Men in Black and Aladdin subsequently apologised to Rock in an Instagram post, and Pinkett Smith posted on the platform that now was “a season for healing”.

Fans gather outside the Wilbur Theater in Boston ahead of a performance by Chris Rock on March 30, 2022. Photo: Reuters

Fans gather outside the Wilbur Theater in Boston ahead of a performance by Chris Rock on March 30, 2022. Photo: Reuters

Meanwhile, Rock was on Wednesday performing in public for the first time since he was attacked at the Academy Awards.

Rock was greeted by thunderous applause and told the audience in Boston, “I’m still kind of processing what happened”, according to audio posted by the Hollywood trade outlet Variety.

He also tamped down any audience expectations that he would talk at length about the slap, telling them: “If you came to hear that, I’m not … I had like a whole show I wrote before this weekend.”

He added: “At some point I’ll talk about that … and it will be serious and funny.”

Ticket prices for Rock’s Ego Death tour skyrocketed after the saga, going up on secondary markets for hundreds of dollars above their face value.

Ticketing site TickPick said on Monday it had sold more tickets for Rock’s tour in the preceding 24 hours than in the whole previous month.

George Guay, a 24-year-old fan from Boston who grew up on Everybody Hates Chris, said he bought a ticket after the Academy Awards.

“He’s the most popular celebrity so I want to be here,” Guay said, adding that he hopes Rock opens up with a response to the situation. “I just want a good show.”

Wanda Sykes told talk show host Ellen DeGeneres she felt ‘ill’ after the saga. Photo Warner Bros via AP

Wanda Sykes told talk show host Ellen DeGeneres she felt ‘ill’ after the saga. Photo Warner Bros via AP

Oscars’ co-host Wanda Sykes, one of three women whose turn at the helm of the show has been widely praised, revealed on Wednesday she felt physically sick after the attack and thought Smith should have been ejected.

“It was sickening. It was absolutely – I physically felt ill, and I’m still a little traumatised by it,” she told talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

“And for them to let (Smith) stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award, I was like, ‘How gross is this?’ This sends the wrong message,” she said. “If you assault somebody, you get escorted out the building and that’s it. But for them to let him continue, I thought it was gross.”

She also told DeGeneres that she had spoken to Rock after the show.

“The first thing he said is, ‘I’m so sorry.’ I was like, ‘Why are you apologising?’ He was like, ‘It was supposed to be your night.

“‘You and Amy [Schumer] and Regina [Hall] were doing such a great job. I’m so sorry this is now gonna be about this’,” Sykes said Rock told her.

In its Wednesday statement, the Academy offered its apologies to Rock over the “deeply shocking, traumatic event”.

“Mr Rock, we apologise to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment,” the Academy said.

“We also apologise to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event.”

Additional reporting by AP

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