Oscars team prepares for anything after Will Smith’s slap
LOS ANGELES – Organisers of Sunday’s 95th Academy Awards are preparing for the unexpected after American actor Will Smith’s infamous slap of presenter Chris Rock convulsed Hollywood’s biggest awards ceremony in 2022.
For the first time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has created a crisis team to respond to any mishaps.
“It is our hope that we will be prepared for anything,” its chief executive Bill Kramer told Time magazine in a recent interview. “Because of last year, we’ve opened our minds to the many things that can happen at the Oscars.”
The Academy was heavily criticised for allowing Smith, 54, to remain in the audience and accept the Best Actor trophy after attacking Rock, 58, on stage over a joke about Smith’s wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith.
The organisation has not disclosed details about the membership of the crisis team or how it may react to anything out of the ordinary. Smith will not be in attendance as he was banned from attending the event for 10 years.
At a February luncheon for nominees, Academy president Janet Yang said the group learnt that it must act “swiftly, compassionately and decisively” in times of crisis, and “you should and can expect no less from us going forward”.
Security will be tight at the Dolby Theatre, where the ceremony will be held. Law enforcement will close off several blocks around the theatre and the red carpet.
Show producers Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner said they hope to keep the spotlight this time on the year’s nominated movies and the people who brought them to life.
“I don’t think anybody is particularly looking to harp too much on what’s happened in the past,” Weiss said.
The show will be broadcast on Walt Disney’s ABC network.
In a departure from recent years, when the Academy nominated many little-seen films, the field of Best Picture contenders features many of the biggest box-office hits of 2022.
They include Avatar: The Way Of Water, Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis and Everything Everywhere All At Once.
“We’re there to entertain and to highlight the great movies this year, many of which people have seen, which is great for us,” Kirshner said.
Like other awards shows, the Oscars have lost viewers in recent years, particularly among younger people who are glued to social media.
Weiss said the team was planning to pepper the show with moments that they hope would spread on Twitter and TikTok.
There will also be performances of songs nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars.
Pop superstar Rihanna will sing Lift Me Up from superhero film Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Best Supporting Actress nominee Stephanie Hsu, singer-songwriter David Byrne and the band Son Lux will perform This Is A Life from Everything Everywhere.
Naatu Naatu singers Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava also will appear with their song from Indian action film RRR.
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who helped navigate the 2017 mix-up when the wrong Best Picture winner was announced, will be back to host this year’s ceremony.
A promo for the show described Kimmel as “unflappable and unslappable”. - REUTERS
- The 95th Academy Awards’ main show will be telecast live in Singapore on meWatch on Monday at 8am, with a same-day repeat telecast at 10pm.
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