Will Smith Resigns From Academy After Oscar Slap Of Chris Rock – Deadline | #oscars | #academywards

UPDATED with AMPAS statement: Two days after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors initiated self-described “disciplinary proceedings” against Will Smith over his slap of Chris Rock at Sunday’s Oscars, the “heartbroken” King Richard Best Actor winner today has pre-empted the harshest punishment that he could have received and left the organization voluntarily.

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Sources said Smith was told by the Academy that he likely could be expelled for a decade or more. That possibility prompted Smith, who has been an AMPAS member since 2001, to jump today before he was pushed in hopes of defusing the situation.

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Here is the full statement Smith provided to Deadline today:

I have directly responded to the Academy’s disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct. My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable. The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home. I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film. So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate.

Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.

On March 30, after a sometimes-contentious virtual meeting of the more than 50 Governors including the likes of Steven Spielberg, Ava DuVernay and Rita Wilson, Smith was informed that he had 15 days to respond in writing to their assertion that he violated the Academy’s standards of conduct with his violent behavior on March 27. The group then was scheduled to meet on April 18 to decide Smith’s fate.

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While expulsion was on the table under the Oscar organizers’ rules, taking away Smith’s Oscar never was. Also, sources close to events tell us that the traditional invite of the previous year’s Best Actor winner to hand out the Best Actress award had become a non-starter for Smith for the 95th Academy Awards.

Now, all that looks to be anticlimactic.

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“We have received and accepted Mr. Will Smith’s immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,” AMPAS president David Rubin said in a statement Friday. “We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18.”

Smith’s exit from AMPAS also comes as further controversy swirls about how and even if Smith really was asked to exit the Dolby Theater on March 27 after striking and screaming at Rock on live TV for a crack about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair. As Academy brass admitted they only spoke to Smith’s PR reps and not the actor directly, producer Will Packer was on Good Morning America this morning claiming that Rock was the one who made the call to let Smith stay. A claim that has been strongly refuted by some close to the comic.

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For those watching the Oscars on Sunday, nothing appeared to be happening in the minutes following the assault.

In fact, Rock went on to hand out the Best Documentary award to Summer of Soul. Some 30 minutes later, Smith was onstage accepting his Best Actor prize and delivering a tear-streaked speech full of defiance and apologies — though not to Rock.

Approached by LAPD officers on site on Sunday, Rock declined to file a police report.

Although it looks like that ship has sailed, the Fargo star actually has up to six months to file a police report. If Rock did file a report eventually and if Smith was found guilty, the Bad Boys and Emacipation actor could be looking at up to six months behind bars and a $100,000 fine under California law.

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Facing a growing backlash, Smith finally said sorry to Rock on March 28 via social media. Appearing in Boston on March 30 at the opening of his Ego Death tour, Rock said he was still “kinda processing” what happened and didn’t have much more to say on the matter before jumping into his long-prepared stand-up material.

Additionally, aggravating some Academy board members was the news that Smith had a virtual meeting with AMPAS heads Rubin and Dawn Hudson on March 29 ahead of the Governors’ March 30 meeting. Those in that Wednesday meeting weren’t in the know that a discussion between the three occurred. A state of affairs that infuriated some and left some others exasperated with what they saw as the lack of transparency and even basic competence on the part of Rubin and Hudson.

Now the agenda for that April 18 meeting certainly has changed.

Mike Fleming Jr. contributed to this report.


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