The Academy Has Begun Disciplinary Proceedings Against Will Smith

According to a statement released by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization has begun disciplinary action against Will Smith after he slapped host Chris Rock during the Oscars telecast on March 27. 

That same evening, Smith won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in "King Richard," the actor's first award after two previous acting nominations for "Ali" and "The Pursuit of Happyness." In his acceptance speech, Smith apologized for the altercation. He later apologized to Rock personally in a public statement

The Academy said in their statement that Smith had violated the terms of the organization's code of conduct, "including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy." The Academy also said that Smith had been asked to leave the awards ceremony after the incident and that he refused. The Academy has given Smith a 15-day notice (their next meeting will take place on April 18) as to a vote pertaining to any possible disciplinary action "which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct."

Following the incident, the Academy's board of governors convened to discuss a plan of action. According to interviews conducted by The Hollywood Reporter, many of the board members immediately felt that Smith should be prevented from presenting the award for best actress next year; it is a longstanding Oscars tradition for the Best Actor winner to present the Best Actress winner the following year and vice versa. 

The new code of conduct, and previous expulsions

In 2017, following the ousting of producer Harvey Weinstein for sexual crimes, the Academy introduced a new set of bylaws, more explicitly inviting reports of misconduct. This came in conjunction with Weinstein's expulsion from the Academy

In the past, according to Katie Couric, only five people have been expelled from the Academy. Weinstein in 2017, Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby in 2018, and cinematographer Adam Kimmel (removed in 2021) who were all expelled in regards to their sex crimes. The first person to have been expelled was actor Carmine Ciardi in 2004 who was kicked out for sharing industry screeners with non-Academy members. Expulsion from the Academy would mean a permanent disinvitation from all future Academy events, including the Oscars, a stripping of the ability to vote in the Academy Awards, and permanent ineligibility to win future Academy Awards. 

Incidentally, only one Oscar win has ever been retracted: The documentary film "Young Americans" had its win taken away when it was discovered that it opened before the 1969 eligibility window.

The full statement

The full statement from the Academy reads as follows: 

The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy's Standards of Conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy.

Consistent with the Academy's Standards of Conduct, as well as California law, Mr. Smith is being provided at least 15 days' notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response. At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.

Mr. Smith's actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television. Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event.

Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated. While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.