How 2023 Oscars Changed Things After Will Smith's Slap a Year Earlier

Jimmy Kimmel could not help but make references to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock during the 2022 Oscars in his opening monologue for the 95th Academy Awards Sunday night. He assured the stars in the audience at the Dolby Theatre that they should feel safe because of "strict policies" in place to protect their safety. This was a reference to reporting last week that the Academy of Motion Picture Art & Sciences will have a "crisis team" ready to snap into action in case anything happens.

Oscars executive producer Glenn Weiss told Entertainment Tonight that the "crisis team" will add another safety layer to the show. "We go in with a really good plan for the known, but you have to be ready for what may transpire with what you didn't plan," Weiss explained.

The choice of Kimmel as host was also a safety net of sorts. He is experienced with hosting live TV and interacting with an audience. This is Kimmel's third time hosting the Oscars.

"It's so important to have a host who knows how to handle live television and a live audience," Academy CEO Bill Kramer told TIME. "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'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."

Kramer didn't outline the specifics of the 2023 "crisis team," but told TIME they ran "many scenarios" to prepare. "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," Kramer explained. "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."

Although the Academy clearly thinks this is serious business, Kimmel joked about it in his opening monologue. He told the crowd that the Academy wants to have fun and feel the same. "Most importantly, we want me to feel safe. So we have strict policies in place," Kimmel said. "If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during the show, you will be awarded the Oscar for best actor and be permitted to give an 18-minute long speech."

"Seriously, the Academy has a crisis team in place," Kimmel continued. "If anything unpredictable or violent happens during the ceremony, just do what you did last year – nothing. Maybe even give the assailant a hug."

Kimmel made another reference to Smith later on. He listed several tough-guy actors seated around the stage to protect him (including "The Fable Man" Steven Spielberg) in case anyone wanted to "come up here and get jiggy with it." He said they had "no time for shenanigans. This is a celebration of everyone here."