By Danny R. Johnson – Entertainment News Editor
LOS ANGELES – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Academy) will convene to determine the repercussions of Will Smith’s behavior at this year’s Oscars after the star’s resignation.
According to a memo sent by Academy president David Rubin and obtained by San Diego County News on Wednesday, the Academy’s Board of Governors will now meet on Friday, April 8, rather than April 18, to discuss “possible sanctions” for Smith, 53, who won Best Actor (King Richard) for portraying Richard Williams on March 27, shortly after he hit Chris Rock on the Oscars stage during the ceremony.
Rubin explained that the meeting was bumped up given Smith has already formally resigned from the Academy, meaning “suspension or expulsion are no longer a possibility, and the legally prescribed timetable no longer applies” for the process under California law and the Academy’s Standards of Conduct.
“It is in the best interest of all involved for this to be managed in a timely fashion,” wrote Rubin.
After the ceremony, the Academy announced that it “officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences” and shared the organization’s Standards of Conduct that “provide an ethical framework for Academy members.” The Academy stated, “Members should act in a manner consistent with the good reputation of the Academy.”
Unacceptable conduct includes “physical contact that is uninvited and, in the situation, inappropriate and unwelcome.” The Standards of Conduct also say that if a member has violated the standards, “the Academy may take any disciplinary action permitted by the Academy’s Bylaws, including suspension of membership or expulsion from membership.” Days after publicly apologizing to Rock and admitting his actions were wrong, Smith resigned from the Academy on April 1, and the Academy formally accepted the resignation.
The King Richard actor said in a statement via his rep, “I have directly responded to the Academy’s disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any consequences for my conduct. At the 94th Academy Awards presentation, my actions were shocking, painful, and inexcusable. The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home. I betrayed the trust of the Academy.”
“I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken,” he continued. “I want to focus on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work to support creativity and artistry in film.”
He concluded, “So, I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate. Change takes time, and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”
The question on the minds of Hollywood elites is what else the Academy can do to punish Smith.
The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has weighed in on Smith’s slap at Chris Rock at the Oscars, calling his actions “unacceptable.”
The union additionally says it has been in contact with the Academy about the incident and “will work to ensure this behavior is appropriately addressed,” adding that it does not comment on any pending member disciplinary process.
“As the union representing presenters and other performers working on the Oscars, SAG-AFTRA is focused on ensuring our members always work in a safe environment. Violence or physical abuse in the workplace is never appropriate, and the union condemns any such conduct,” the union said in a statement. “The incident involving Will Smith and Chris Rock at Sunday’s Academy Awards was unacceptable. We have contacted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and ABC about this incident and will work to ensure this behavior is appropriately addressed. SAG-AFTRA does not comment on any pending member disciplinary process.”
Under federal labor law and the SAG-AFTRA Constitution, disciplinary action against Smith can only be taken if the charged member is found guilty after a hearing before the Disciplinary Committee. No such hearing has been announced, and whether one will be convened. Once a hearing is conducted, members of the Disciplinary Committee can provide recommendations on Smith’s punishments to the National Board’s constitutionally mandated probable cause review. The National Board has a range of punitive actions it can implement, such as expulsion from SAG-AFTRA, which would mean Smith will not be able to work as a union member in any Hollywood production under the auspices of the SAG-AFTRA.