Academy CEO on Whether Will Smith Incident Could Be Addressed Next Year: ‘We Want to Move Forward’

New Academy CEO Bill Kramer says the goal is to “move forward and to have an Oscars that celebrates cinema”

The Oscars appear ready to leave the slap in the past.

During a roundtable with reporters earlier this week, new Academy CEO Bill Kramer was asked if there have been early conversations to address, at next year’s ceremony, the shocking moment Will Smith slapped Chris Rock this past March.

“We want to move forward and to have an Oscars that celebrates cinema. That’s our focus right now, but it’s really about moving forward,” said Kramer, who began his position in July following the exit of former CEO Dawn Hudson.

During the March 27 broadcast, Smith, 53, walked onto the stage and hit Chris Rock after a joke made by the comedian about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head. (The actress, 50, lives with alopecia.)

The slap led to months of fallout for the Best Actor winner, who resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was banned from attending Academy events for 10 years.

The King Richard star apologized to Rock in a statement on Instagram the following day before posting an apology video on his social media accounts July 29, explaining that night and apologizing directly to Rock, 57, and his family.

“I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is that he’s not ready to talk, and when he is he will reach out,” Smith said. “So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable, and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”

Rock has not officially commented on the televised physical assault, but has referenced the slap onstage in several stops of his latest comedy tour.

Academy CEO on Whether Will Smith Incident Could Be Addressed Next Year: 'We Want to Move Forward'

During the Monday roundtable, Kramer reflected on his hopes for the upcoming 95th annual Academy Awards, which will air live on ABC March 12.

“We want to return to a show that has reverence for film in 95 years of the Oscars,” said Kramer, who previously served as director and president of Los Angeles’ newly opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

Academy CEO on Whether Will Smith Incident Could Be Addressed Next Year: 'We Want to Move Forward'

“We’ve been talking to ABC from the minute I started on what the show is going to look like, and there will be some announcements soon, but we’ve had incredibly productive and engaged conversations with them,” he said. “So we’re feeling really good about the direction of the show.”

Kramer also said the Academy is “committed to having a host” for the 2023 show and emphasized a continued commitment to diversity initiatives. The 2022 hosts were Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer and Regina Hall.

Asked if the Academy would repeat this year’s unpopular decision to pre-tape some awards, including below-the-line categories like editing and makeup and hairstyling, Kramer said the goal is “to see all disciplines equitably acknowledged on the show. There are many ways to do that, and we’re working that through with ABC right now.”

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