A previously undisclosed short virtual meeting between Will Smith and Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson on March 29 could be causing a new crisis to hit the Oscar organization.
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The six-minute zoom call initiated by the King Richard star to Rubin and Hudson mainly saw Smith apologize, yet again, for slapping Chris Rock during Sunday’s telecast on live TV.
The new shockwave is hitting hard because those in the Academy’s Board of Governors meeting yesterday beginning disciplinary procedures against Smith weren’t in the know.
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“Why would they keep this from us?” exclaimed one insider who participated in Wednesday’s board meeting. “It only contributes to an atmosphere of suspicion and lack of leadership.”
With seemingly contradictory information now swirling about how Smith was allegedly asked and refused to exit the Dolby Theater after striking Rock, the efforts by the nearly 50-member Board of Governors to find an appropriate solution to the situation by its next April 18 scheduled meeting could be fracturing based on news of Rubin and Hudson’s March 29 virtual meeting with Smith. the King Richard Best Actor Oscar winner has at least 15 days notice as of yesterday before the vote regarding his violations and sanctions, to be heard beforehand by means of a written response.
“What else don’t we know about what’s happening or what happened on Sunday?” stated another well-positioned Academy member of the interaction between Smith, Rubin and Hudson.
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“This lack of transparency undermines our ability to come to a suitable resolution to the whole thing,” the AMPAS member added.
Rubin and Hudson heard Smith’s apology out about how he lost it over Rock’s “GI Jane 2” joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head. Rubin and Hudson informed Smith that a meeting with the Governors was taking place to determine what punitive action should be taken against the Oscar winning King Richard Best Actor.
Yesterday, the Board of Governors convened and agreed in majority to investigate the Smith altercation. Their next board meeting on April 18 will decide what disciplinary action could occur for the Oscar winner. This may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct. While Smith could potentially be expelled from AMPAS, many sources don’t believe he’ll lose his Oscar.
AMPAS also issued a statement Wednesday saying, “While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”
However, those close to Smith on Sunday night say that he was never directly asked by anyone associated with AMPAS to leave the Dolby Theatre; rather the idea was floated to the actor by Oscar brass via Smith’s publicist.
Oscars producer Will Packer is the first among the award show’s higher-ups to speak publicly about what went down on Good Morning America tomorrow morning.
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That interview was teased on World News Tonight this evening, with Packer revealing details about the LAPD’s conversation with Rock on Sunday night.
“They were saying, ‘This is battery.’ That was the word they used in that moment,” Packer told GMA‘s T.J. Holmes. “They said, ‘We will go get him. We are prepared. We will go get him right now. You can press charges. We can arrest him. They were laying out the options. And as they were talking, Chris was, he was being very dismissive of those options. He was like, ‘No, I’m fine.’ He was like, ‘No, no, no.’ And even to the point where I said, ‘Rock, let them finish.’ The LAPD officers finish laying out what his options were. And they said, ‘Would you like us to take any action?’ And he said, ‘No.’ ”
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On Wednesday night, Rock kicked off his Ego Death World Tour at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre, saying “I haven’t talked to anyone despite what you may have heard,” and added that he is “still kinda processing what happened” and that “at some point” he will talk about “that sh*t,” and “it will be serious, and it will be funny.”
Representatives for Smith and the Academy did not return request for comment.
Variety was the first to report on the Tuesday call between Smith and the Oscar bosses.
You can watch the controversial moment from the Sunday’s Oscars below.