ZB

What to expect from Will Smith's Academy hearing tomorrow

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 8 Apr 2022, 2:17pm
(Photo / Getty Images)
(Photo / Getty Images)

What to expect from Will Smith's Academy hearing tomorrow

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 8 Apr 2022, 2:17pm

Will Smith's Oscars slap echoed around the globe - and now the actor is set to face the consequences.

Smith will appear before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences disciplinary board on April 8 in the US (tomorrow NZ time) after he took to the Oscars stage nearly two weeks ago to hit Chris Rock for making an insensitive joke about his wife.

The hearing has been fast-tracked after Smith made the bombshell announcement earlier this week that he was resigning from the Academy.

This meant the Academy could no longer suspend or expel him - and the legal timeframe for those actions no longer applied to Smith. The hearing was brought forward from April 18 to April 8.

So, what does this disciplinary hearing mean for the actor - and for the future of the Oscars?

Here's what we know so far.

Hearing fast-tracked

After the Oscars wrapped up, it was revealed that officials had planned to begin disciplinary proceedings against the actor on April 18.

The meeting was brought forward to April 8 after the actor unexpectedly handed in his resignation.

In a letter obtained by CNN, Academy president David Rubin wrote, "I am calling a board meeting for this Friday morning, April 8, at 9:00 am PT, rather than the previously scheduled April 18 meeting, to address possible sanctions for Will Smith in response to his actions during the Oscars broadcast on March 28."

A source told the Sun there had been several Zoom conference calls with various members of the Academy over the past several days.

"The decision was made earlier this week to expedite the hearing in the wake of Will's resignation, and during that call it was clear that the decision would go to the wire," the source said.

"The members — of which there are over 9,000, with hundreds of WhatsApp groups flying about — are completely split. The governors themselves are also said to be in disagreement."

The Evening Standard has approached representatives for Smith and the Academy for comment.

Will Smith said the joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's medical condition was too much for him to bear. Photo / AP

Will Smith said the joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's medical condition was too much for him to bear. Photo / AP

Could Will Smith lose his Oscar?

The Evening Standard reports that Smith could find out "within hours" whether he will be stripped of his Best Actor Oscar.

Smith accepted the award just moments after his altercation with Rock, apologising to everyone but the comedian in his acceptance speech.

If Smith were to be stripped of his Oscar, he would become the first actor to have his Academy Award taken away.

Actors Marlon Brando and George C. Scott, as well as screenwriter Dudley Nichols, all refused to accept their Oscars - but none have had their award rescinded.

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was expelled from the Academy in 2017 after his sexual abuses came to light, but still got to keep his Oscars.

Others have pointed out that it would be a bad look for the Academy to take an Oscar away from Smith, a black actor, after Roman Polanski and Woody Allen got to keep theirs despite allegations of sexual abuse.

How will Smith respond?

Smith has already said in his resignation statement that he would accept any and all consequences for what he did.

"I have directly responded to the Academy's disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct," Smith said.

"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."

Smith continued, "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."

The joke in question hit a nerve with Smith when Chris Rock called his wife Jada Pinkett Smith "G.I. Jane 2", referencing her shaved head.

Pinkett Smith has been living with alopecia, which causes drastic hair loss, for several years and has been vocal about her struggle with the condition.