Oscars adds crisis communications team to 2023 show following Will Smith slap

This year’s 2023 Oscars will be adding a “crisis team” in the event that the awards show is rocked by another fiasco.

A team of rapid response professionals will be on-site at the Academy Awards, taking place in Los Angeles on 12 March.

“Because of last year, we’ve opened our minds to the many things that can happen at the Oscars,” the Academy of Science and Motion Pictures CEO Bill Kramer told Time in a new interview.

“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,” Kramer said.

“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.”

The new measure comes after Will Smith infamously walked on stage at the 2022 awards show and slapped presenter Chris Rock across the face for a joke he made about Jada Pinkett Smith.

That evening, Smith went on to win Best Actor for his leading role in King Richard.

Chris Rock and Will Smith (AP)
Chris Rock and Will Smith (AP)

Nearly two weeks after the incident, the Academy gathered to discuss how they would handle the situation. It was eventually decided Smith would be banned from attending the Oscars and all related Academy events for the next 10 years.

A few days prior, Smith sent a letter of resignation to the Academy, stripping him of his membership to the Oscars awards body.

This year’s ceremony will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, who Kramer said is a “safe choice” because he “knows how to handle television and a live audience”.

“That’s a very specific skill, and there aren’t a lot of people who can do that well. Jimmy is a dream to work with,” he added.

“He’s funny; he’s respectful; his edges aren’t too sharp. I think people in the audience feel very safe and engaged with his energy. We’re thrilled Jimmy is coming back, and we hope this is the beginning of a lovely, long new relationship with him.”

The 95th Academy Awards are scheduled to broadcast live on 12 March, beginning at 8pm EST on ABC. Find the full list of 2023 Oscar nominees here.