The Academy Hired a Crisis Team in the Wake of *That* Slap

The Oscars crisis team will respond to events like Will Smith slapping Chris Rock (pictured) in a more timely manner.

At the 2023 Oscar Nominees Luncheon, Academy President Janet Yang addressed the organisation’s response to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 ceremony.

“As I’m sure you all remember, we experienced an unprecedented event at the Oscars,” Yang said. “What happened on stage was wholly unacceptable and the response from the organisation was inadequate. We learned from this that the Academy must be fully transparent and accountable in our actions and particularly in times of crisis.”

The Academy Hires a Crisis Team

For the first time in the Academy’s history, they’ve hired a “crisis team”, in the hopes that they’ll be able to respond swiftly to any potential surprises.

In an interview with Time magazine, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO Bill Kramer said that the team have been putting “many plans in place” for any unexpected chaos that the 95th Academy Awards may bring.

“We’ve run many scenarios,” Kramer said. “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.”

How the Academy Responded to Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock

After Smith slapped Rock at the 2022 Oscars, the Academy released a statement in which they said: “While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognise we could have handled the situation differently.”

They were heavily criticised for the response. Matthew Belloni, founding partner of Puck News, wrote on Twitter: “Suggesting to a publicist is NOT the same as the show producer or Academy president walking over and respectfully telling him what needs to happen.”

By all accounts, it seems the Academy has come to agree.

What the Academy’s Crisis Team Will Do

Kramer said that the new crisis communications team will enable the Academy to respond in a more timely manner.

“Because of last year, we’ve opened our minds to the many things that can happen at the Oscars,” Kramer said.

“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,” he explained, adding: “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.”

The 95th Academy Awards will air in Australia on Monday, March 13, 2023.

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