We certainly don’t need to remind you about the biggest event at last year’s Oscars: Will Smith slapping Chris Rock after the comedian made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The aftermath of the slap was chaos in the actual room, as the Oscars couldn’t decide if they should have Smith leave the ceremony immediately. Instead, Smith was allowed to stay and accept his best actor award; it was only in the days after the ceremony that the Academy decided to punish him by banning him from future ceremonies for 10 years.
As we head into this year’s Oscars, the Academy has decided to prepare for another slap-level incident should one occur, and that means it’s hired an official crisis team. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO Bill Kramer told Time in a Feb. 22 interview, “We have a whole crisis team, something we’ve never had before, and many plans in place. 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.”
He added that the selection of Jimmy Kimmel as host for the evening was also influenced by the fact that Kimmel “can really pivot and manage” unexpected moments.
The CEO admitted that the Academy’s response to the slap last year was flawed, saying it “could have moved more quickly.” “And I’m not just talking about the night of the show,” he added. “This is really our response after the show, and how we spoke about it, and how we talked to Will and Chris, and our hosts and our members.” Kramer also shared that this year’s level of preparation helped the Academy when it came to addressing Andrea Riseborough’s controversial 2023 Oscar nomination.
Regarding the 2022 ceremony, Kramer said it “opened our minds” to what exactly can happen at the Oscars, so the crisis team will help guide who will be the spokesperson, who will make statements, and other logistical and decision-making issues in the event of another mishap. “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,” he added.
As for this year’s Oscars night, hopefully the only surprises will come from fashion, red carpet interviews, and the actual winners. The 2023 Oscars air on ABC on March 12.