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Academy 'condemns' Will Smith's Oscar slap, launches official probe

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Academy 'condemns' Will Smith's Oscar slap, launches official probe
Will Smith (R) and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, arrive for the 94th annual Academy Awards on Sunday. Multiple celebrities are reacting to Smith slapping Chris Rock during the Oscars ceremony. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

March 28 (UPI) -- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday issued a condemnation of an onstage incident in which actor Will Smith slapped host Chris Rock at the Oscars ceremony.

The group also announced it has launched an official inquiry into the incident, according to a statement distributed to media outlets.

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Smith walked onto the stage during Sunday's 94th annual Academy Awards and slapped Rock in the face after the comedian made a joke about his wife Jada Pinkett Smith's hair. The incident occurred as Rock was presenting the award for Best Documentary.

Will Smith then returned to his seat and told Rock to keep his wife's name out of his mouth. Will Smith later won Best Actor for his role in King Richard.

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"The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night's show," the organization said. "We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our bylaws, standards of conduct and California law."

The statement referred to a code of conduct adopted in 2017 in response to the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal under which the body's Board of Governors may suspend or expel members found to have "compromised the integrity of the Academy by their actions."

The Academy had called an emergency meeting early Monday to discuss the Smith incident, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The move came after the motion picture body issued a brief Twitter statement on Sunday night saying, "The Academy does not condone violence of any form."

"I want to apologize to the Academy," Smith said during his acceptance speech. "I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees. Love will make you do crazy things."

In a statement emailed to UPI, the Los Angeles Police Department said it was aware of the incident and that Rock has declined to press charges.

Actress Whoopi Goldberg, a member of the Academy's Board of Governors, said Monday that Smith "overreacted" to Rock's joke and predicted he would not be stripped of his Best Actor Oscar because of the incident.

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Noting that Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have been the butt of jokes for years due to their open marriage and her hair loss, Goldberg said on The View, "Not everybody acts the way we would like them to under pressure. Some people just snap -- he snapped."

But, she added, "We're not going to take that Oscar from him. There will be consequences, I'm sure, but I don't think that's what they're going to do, particularly because Chris [Rock] said, 'Listen, I'm not pressing any charges.'"

Amy Schumer, who co-hosted the ceremony with Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes, made a joke about the incident during the show.

"I've been getting out of that Spider-Man costume. Did I miss anything? There's like a different vibe in here," Schumer said, while giving a fist bump to Tiffany Haddish.

Haddish gave her thoughts on what happened to Entertainment Tonight at the Vanity Fair Oscars after-party.

"I would define tonight as a success. First of all, I seen a man stand up for his wife, which we don't see that much anymore. That made me have hope," Haddish said.

Conan O'Brien also joked about what happened and referenced how he no longer has a late night show anymore.

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"Just saw the Will Smith slap. Anyone have a late night show I can borrow just for tomorrow?" O'Brien tweeted.

Will Smith and Jade Pinkett Smith's son, Jaden Smith, also commented on Twitter after the incident and after his father won Best Actor.

"And That's How We Do It," he tweeted.

Kathy Griffin gave her thoughts on Twitter, calling it a bad practice.

"Let me tell you something, it's very bad practice to walk up on stage and physically assault a comedian. Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters," she said.

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Mark Hamill used a hashtag on Twitter that called the incident the ugliest Oscar moment ever.

"Stand-up comics are very adept at handling hecklers. Violent physical assault ... not so much. #UgliestOscarMoment_Ever," Hamill said alongside a photo of Will Smith slapping Rock.

Variety got comments from Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Quinta Brunson and Kenya Barris on what happened as stars attended the Vanity Fair Oscar party.

"Sometimes human emotions happen. Sometimes human interactions happen. We can't judge people based on their moments," Rodriguez said.

"I'm from Philly. It felt very Philly to me. That's all I have to say," Brunson said, in reference to Will Smith also being from Philadelphia.

"There needs to be a clear distinction between work and home. We've gotten it confused," Barris said.

Winners of 2022 Oscars

Jessica Chastain, winner of Best Actress for "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," appears backstage with her Oscar. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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