The president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has a habit of addressing the actors, filmmakers, crew and other attendees at the annual Oscar nominees luncheon in a welcoming, congratulatory way.
This year, however, new Academy President Janet Yang also had a huge elephant in the room to deal with: Will Smith’s infamous instant slap on host Chris Rock during the 2022 Oscars telecast in March.
“I’m sure you all remember that we had an unprecedented event at the Oscars,” Yang (a credited old-time film producer. The Luck Club and The People Vs. Larry Flynt who was elected president in August, replacing David Rubin), he told attendees Monday at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. Diversity.
“What happened on stage was completely unacceptable and the response from our organization was inadequate. We learned from this that the Academy must be fully transparent and accountable in our actions, and especially in times of crisis you must act quickly, compassionately and decisively for ourselves and our industry. You should not and cannot expect any less from us in the future.”
Although the Academy issued a statement condemning Smith’s actions shortly after the telecast ended, it was more forceful in its language in a letter to members days later, and ultimately banned Smith from attending the Oscars for the rest of the year. 10 years, Yang’s message was particularly significant because he apparently admits. what so many industry professionals and casual observers wondered in the hours, days and months after that shocking event:
How on earth was Smith allowed to stay in his seat and later accept his Oscar after attacking Rock on stage while the whole world watched in disbelief?
Removing Smith from the event was “seriously discussed”, a source said Entertainment Weekly day after the event. It certainly set a terrible precedent didn’t it, not to mention the cold hard truth that Smith was only allowed to stay because he is one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. If almost anyone else attacked Rock on stage, they would almost certainly be fired.
We can only read between the lines, but Yang’s comments that his organization’s response was “inadequate” seem to indicate that the Academy is admitting wrongdoing by allowing the actor to stay.
Present at the Oscar luncheon were the vast majority of this year’s nominees, including Tom Cruise (producer of the Best Picture nominee Top Gun: Maverick), Steven Spielberg (Best Director, The Fabelmans), Cate Blanchett (Best Actress, Tar), Michelle Yeoh (Best Actress, Everything everywhere all at once), Angela Bassett (Best Supporting Actress, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), Brendan Fraser (Best Actor, The Great Whale) and Colin Farrell (Best Actor, Banshees Inisherin).
A year after the Academy’s controversial decision to banish a handful of awardees to a failed pre-ceremony, Yang also drew cheers from the audience while mentioning that this year’s trophies will all be given live, and they reminded the nominees of the “45 second rule.” As such, winners are only allowed 45 seconds for their acceptance speeches. “Keep it short, sweet and to the point, please,” Yang said.