The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences reportedly "strongly considered" removing Will Smith from the broadcast after the King Richard star slapped comedian Chris Rock for joking about Jada Pinkett Smith. However, nothing was done, and Smith was allowed to deliver an awkward Best Actor award acceptance speech. He apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees but made no mention of Rock. Since the broadcast, the Academy has released two statements, including one announcing a "formal review" of the events.
"Academy leadership strongly considered removing Will Smith from last night's broadcast following the incident," a source told CNN Monday. "There were immediate discussions, but the Academy decision-makers were seated in various spots in the Dolby Theater and couldn't mobilize to make a decision before he won best actor."
Immediately after the ceremony, the Academy tweeted a brief statement condemning the violence. "Tonight, we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world," the tweet read.
On Monday morning, about a dozen AMPAS members held a virtual meeting on the incident, two sources told CNN. The sources described the meeting as "heated" and "divided," but there was no agreement on what to do. The group does not have disciplinary power, but its members are high-profile enough that their views might influence the Academy's Board of Governors.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Board of Governors convened for their own meeting, with president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson in attendance. Some Academy members want to see Smith face some consequences, including the suspension of his Academy membership. Others suggest the revocation of his Best Actor Oscar.
The Academy released another statement amid the meeting, announcing plans to review the incident. "The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night's show," reads the new statement. "We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct, and California law."
Smith slapped Rock late in the Oscars ceremony when Rock took the stage to present the Best Documentary Feature award. Rock made a joke about Pinkett Smith's shaved head, prompting Smith to walk onstage to strike the comedian. "Keep my wife's name out of your f—ing mouth!" Smith yelled from his seat. Moments after the incident, Smith won the Best Actor Oscar as he was expected to for King Richard. Smith also attended the Vanity Fair Oscars party with Pinkett Smith and their children, dancing to his songs and taking pictures with other celebrities.
Rock decided against filing charges against Smith, the Los Angeles Police Department said. "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," the department said. "If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report."