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Chris Rock will not back out of hosting the Oscars, says producer

By Karen Butler   |   Jan. 24, 2016 at 11:32 AM
| License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Academy Awards ceremony producer Reginald Hudlin says Chris Rock will not bow out of hosting the Oscars to protest the lack of diversity among the Oscar nominees, but will instead use the show as a platform to address the issue.

Hollywood couple Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, and filmmaker Spike Lee have said they will not attend the gala, which honors excellence in film, because no people of color were nominated in the acting categories for a second year.

Many academy members, critics and journalists have defended the all-white choices, however, arguing the selections had nothing to do with race and saying 2015 was a competitive year for films and artists, with white actors Johnny Depp and Michael Keaton, writer Aaron Sorkin and directors Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg alongside black actors Idris Elba, Will Smith and Michael B. Jordan on the list of surprising omissions.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which bestows the Oscars, responded to the backlash against the nominations by revamping its membership and governing rules in an effort to increase diversity for future competitions.

Hudlin told Entertainment Tonight Rock finished writing his monologue for the Oscars ceremony a week ago, but started working on a new script as the controversy picked up steam and some protesters urged him to walk away from the job.

"Chris is hard at work. He and his writing staff locked themselves in a room," Hudlin said.

"As things got a little provocative and exciting, he said, 'I'm throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show,'" Hudlin recalled. "Chris is that thorough. He's that brilliant, and I have 1000 percent confidence that he will deliver something that people will be talking about for weeks."

Rock has not yet publicly spoken out about the debate other than to tweet alongside an Oscars promo: "The #Oscars. The White BET Awards."

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