Oscars 2023 will have crisis team on hand following last year's Will Smith slap drama

Academy puts plans in place to handle any unexpected events

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After last year's ceremony was rocked by unexpected drama, this year, Oscars organisers are not taking any risks.

Ahead of the 2023 awards, set to take place on March 12, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has established a new team of crisis co-ordinators to be on hand on the night.

“Because of last year, we’ve opened our minds to the many things that can happen at the Oscars,” Bill Kramer, chief executive of the academy, told Time magazine.

“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. 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 new measures come after actor Will Smith walked on stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock while the latter was presenting, after he made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada.

Audiences were initially unsure if the slap was part of a scripted skit, but when Smith returned to his seat and continued to angrily shout, it became clear it was not planned.

Later on in the ceremony, Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in the biopic King Richard.

Why did Will Smith hit Chris Rock at the Oscars?

Will Smith, right, hits presenter Chris Rock on stage while presenting the award for best documentary feature at the Oscars on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo / Chris Pizzello)

Smith later apologised for his actions, calling himself a “work in progress”.

“My behaviour at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable,” he wrote in an Instagram post.

“I would like to publicly apologise to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.

“I would also like to apologise to the academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world.”

Smith resigned from the academy. He has also been banned him from attending the Oscars for 10 years.

The 95th Academy Awards will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, described by Kramer as a “safe choice”.

“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.”

Updated: February 22, 2023, 9:09 AM