Academy Adds Oscars ‘Crisis Team’ After Will Smith Slap: ‘We’ll Be Prepared for Anything We May Not Anticipate’

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO Bill Kramer confirmed in an interview with Time magazine that the organization has implemented a new “crisis team” for the upcoming 2023 Oscars in order to quickly navigate any potential real-time emergency. The creation of a crisis team is a response to the 2022 Oscars, where Will Smith infamously walked on stage and slapped presenter Chris Rock across the face. Academy president Janet Yang previously said the group’s response to the incident was not swift enough.

“We have a whole crisis team, something we’ve never had before, and many plans in place,” Kramer said. “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.”

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“Because of [the slap] last year, we’ve opened our minds to the many things that can happen at the Oscars,” Kramer continued. “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. And 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.”

Variety has reached out to the Academy for more information on the new crisis team.

Smith slapped Rock at the 2022 Oscars while the latter was presenting the best documentary feature category. Rock made a controversial joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head, which she shaved following an alopecia diagnosis. After the slap, Smith returned to his seat and repeatedly screamed at Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth!” The ceremony continued with Smith remaining in attendance as he won the best actor Oscar for his performance in “King Richard.”

The 2022 Oscars aired on March 27. Smith resigned from the Academy on April 1, writing in a statement, “I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.” It took several more days for the Academy to announce it was revoking Smith’s AMPAS membership and banning him from attending the Oscars ceremonies for 10 years.

Speaking at the 2023 Oscars nominees luncheon earlier this month, AMPAS president Janet Yang admitted the organization dropped the ball by waiting too long to respond to the slap. It appears the new crisis team will react in as close to real-time as possible should any emergencies break out at the 2023 Oscars.

“I’m sure you all remember we experienced an unprecedented event at the Oscars,” Yang told attendees at the luncheon. “What happened onstage was fully unacceptable and the response from our organization 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.”

Smith apologized again for his actions in a July 2022 video post in which he revealed, “I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is he’s not ready to talk, and when he is, he will reach out.” He has since gone on to star in Apple’s slavery drama “Emancipation” and is currently prepping “Bad Boys 4” with Martin Lawrence.

The 2023 Oscars are set to take place March 12.

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