Will Smith resigns from the academy amid Oscars slap fallout

Five days after sending a shock wave through Hollywood by the striking presenter Chris Rock on live television, Oscar winner Will Smith has resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The farewell letter, which The Times received last Friday, apologizes not only to Rock but also to other Oscar nominees and winners.

“The list of those I have injured is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all present and global audiences at home,” the statement said. “I betray the Academy’s confidence. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be praised for their extraordinary work. I am devastated.”

Academy President David Rubin confirmed that Smith’s resignation had been received and accepted. A board meeting on April 18 will next assess what further disciplinary action will be taken regarding their new best actors.

Smith’s exit from the organization comes amid a growing firestorm over the shocking “bang that was heard around the world”, which occurred when the then strongly favored nominated best actor went on stage and hit Rock in the face after the comedian joked about his wife. , actress Jada Pinkett Smith.

Further inflammatory controversy is how and why Smith was allowed to remain in the Dolby Theater after the attack.

Less than an hour after beating Rock, he won his first Oscar of his career for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father of tennis champions Serena and Venus Williams, in the biographical drama “King Richard”. After giving a tearful 6-minute speech, Smith was seen partying into the night with his family and singing along to his own hit songs at the Vanity Fair party, with Oscar in hand.

In the aftermath, both the incident and how it was handled by the academy management and the TV producers’ outrage among the public and the organization’s own members aroused. Conflicting stories about whether Smith had been asked to leave the awards after the attack in the air only ruined the situation, which increased the heat on the decision-makers behind the scenes.

On Thursday, Oscar producer Will Packer told “Good Morning America” ​​that the LAPD was prepared on Sunday night to arrest Smith if Rock decided to prosecute. According to Packer, Rock declined.

The comedian has not yet fully commented on the attack, but alluded to it this week at a comedy show in Boston where he received standing ovations and told the audience: “I’m still processing what happened.”

The extent to which the incident disrupted the 94th Oscars and damaged its reputation continues to evolve.

Oscar co-host Wanda Sykes was among those who criticized the academy for not taking stronger action on Sunday night, calling the decision to let Smith remain in place for the rest of the show “gross” and “wrong message”.

Filmmaker Joseph Patel, producer of the documentary “Summer of Soul”, criticized both Smith and Rock – who disrespected the Indian American filmmaker as one of the “four white guys” when he awarded the category seconds after the attack – for destroying what should have been a party night for other artists.

Smith has now issued three separate public apologies for his actions on Sunday night, the first of which, which was made teary-eyed on stage at the Oscars, included the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences but conspicuously not rock.

The following day, he issued a written apology to Rock, the Oscar producers and contestants, the Williams family and “my ‘King Richard’ family” in which he said that “violence in all its forms is toxic and destructive. My behavior at yesterday’s Oscars was unacceptable and unforgivable. “

The Film Academy announced on Wednesday that they are initiating disciplinary proceedings against the actor with possible expulsion, suspension or other sanctions to be determined.

On Friday afternoon, Smith took the step of terminating his membership, calling his actions “shocking, painful and unforgivable.”

The move smells like a crisis-ridden PR spin, noted some industry watchdogs. “To resign allows [Smith] to avoid headlines from ‘AMPAS expels Will Smith’ … but he is not near the forest yet “, tweeted Variety’s Andrew Wallenstein.

But with Smith’s resignation, others noted, the academy can at least try to move on from the debacle.

“This is the right thing to do,” tweeted journalist Mark Harris, “and will allow the academy to turn to the important work of finding out how it screwed everything else together so thoroughly.”

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