The Academy Awards has enlisted a “crisis team” ahead of this year’s ceremony, after Will Smith took to the stage and slapped Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars.
Bill Kramer, the chief executive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has told how the organisation have “opened our minds” to many things that can happen at the spectacle following the actor’s on-stage outburst, and as a result they have developed “crisis plans” before this year’s event on March 12th.
When asked if there are any measures being put in place this year for potential surprises, he replied: “Absolutely. And that’s why you want someone like Jimmy [Kimmel] on stage who is used to dealing with live TV: Things don’t always go as planned. So you have a host in place who can really pivot and manage those moments.
“But we have a whole crisis team, something we’ve never had before, and many plans in place. We’ve run many scenarios.
“So it is our hope that we will be prepared for anything that we may not anticipate right now but that we’re planning for just in case it does happen.
“Because of last year, we’ve opened our minds to the many things that can happen at the Oscars. But these crisis plans – the crisis communication teams and structures we have in place – allow us to say this is the group that we have to gather very quickly. This is how we all come together. This is the spokesperson. This will be the statement.”
But Bill is hoping the crisis team will “never have to be used”.
He added to TIME magazine: “Obviously depending on the specifics of the crisis, and let’s hope something doesn’t happen and we never have to use these, but we already have frameworks in place that we can modify.”
Last week, Janet Yang, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) admitted the Oscars’ response to Will’s slap – in which the ‘King Richard’ star hit the comedian after he joked about Will’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith at last year’s Academy Awards – was “inadequate”.
Speaking at the 2023 Oscars Nominees Luncheon – where guests included Tom Cruise, Cate Blanchett, Steven Spielberg and Angela Bassett – she said: “I’m sure you all remember we experienced an unprecedented event at the Oscars.
“What happened onstage was fully unacceptable and the response from our organisation was inadequate.
“We learned from this that the Academy must be fully transparent and accountable in our actions, and particularly in times of crisis you must act swiftly, compassionately and decisively for ourselves and for our industry. You should and can expect no less form us going forward.”
Will resigned from the Academy on April 1st, just days after the March 28th ceremony, admitting he had “betrayed” their trust, but insisted he was “heartbroken”.
But it wasn’t until April 8th when the Academy banned the actor from the Oscars for 10 years and confirmed his AMPAS membership had been revoked.