Oscars Producer Explains Why Will Smith Wasn't Removed From Show
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Will Packer, the producer of the Oscars, has explained why Will Smith wasn't removed from the show after slapping Chris Rock.
Smith taking to the stage of the 94th Academy Awards to slap Rock took viewers by surprise, but what was even more surprising for some was that Smith wasn't removed from the show.
Now, Packer, the Oscars' producer, has weighed in on why Smith was allowed to stay.
EXCLUSIVE: #Oscars producer Will Packer tells Good Morning America about the frenetic aftermath of actor Will Smith slapping host Chris Rock live on stage on Hollywood’s biggest night. https://t.co/AeoYcGkM32 pic.twitter.com/8z35t8TPFw— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 1, 2022
In an interview with Good Morning America, Packer explained how he initially thought that Smith slapping Rock was a pre-planned bit until the comedian came backstage and confirmed that the moment wasn't planned, and neither was his G.I Jane joke about Jada Pinkett Smith.
"[Rock] didn’t tell one of the planned jokes. He was immediately freestyling," Packer revealed.
"Once I saw Will yelling at the stage with such vitriol, my heart dropped. And I just remember thinking, ‘Oh no, oh no. Not like this' – Chris was keeping his head when everyone else was losing theirs.
"My heart was just in my stomach because of everything about it and what it represented and what it looked like and who was involved. All of that. I’ve never felt so immediately devastated like I did in that moment", the producer recalled.
Packer said he confirmed the slap was real with Rock, who joked about the incident but was still 'very much in shock'.
The producer then explained how Los Angeles Police Department officers came into Packer's office 'laying out very clearly what Chris’s rights are. They were saying 'This is battery. We will go get him. We’re prepared. We’re prepared to get him right now. You can press charges. We’ll arrest him'.'
However, Packer said Rock was 'very dismissive' of the options presented to him and declined to take further action.
The LAPD also confirmed this in a statement released following the incident, as per Variety.
"LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program. The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a board member from the Academy said that Smith was asked 'to leave the ceremony and refused'.
However, upon learning they wanted to remove Smith, Packer – who had not been part of those conversations – said: "I immediately went to the Academy leadership that was on site and I said, ‘Chris Rock doesn’t want that’. I said, ‘Rock has made it clear that he does not want to make a bad situation worse’. That was Chris’s image.
"His tone was not retaliatory, his tone was not aggressive and angry. And so I was advocating for what Rock wanted at that time, which was not to physically remove Will Smith at that time."
In the days the incident, Smith has publicly apologised to Rock, the Academy and those watching the show.
The Oscar winner was also said to have personally apologised to Packer.
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Topics: Celebrity, Will Smith, Chris Rock, Oscars, US News, Jada Pinkett Smith