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Why did Will Smith slap Chris Rock at the Oscars?


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'He played Muhammad Ali, I played Pookie!': Chris Rock FINALLY breaks his silence on infamous Will Smith Oscars slap in new Netflix special Selective Outrage


PUBLISHED: 19:37 EST, 1 March 2023 | UPDATED: 10:42 EST, 2 March 2023




Chris Rock has opened up for the first time about the infamous Oscars slap he received from Will Smith, in workshopping material for his forthcoming live Netflix special.

In a January set in Charleston, South Carolina in preparation for his upcoming Netflix special Selective Outrage, The Wall Street Journal reported that Rock, 58, talked about the incident that dominated talk of the evening. 

He said, 'The thing people want to know . . . did it hurt? Hell yeah, it hurt;' Rock also referenced their respective roles in the 2001 Smith film Ali and his 1991 movie New Jack City: 'He played Muhammad Ali! I played Pookie!'

Continue watchingAdam Sandler makes rare appearance with wife Jackie at SAG Awards 2023 after Rock added, according to The US Sun, 'Even in animated movies, I’m a zebra, he’s a f***ing shark.'

Rock referenced one of Smith's rap tracks, saying, 'I got hit so hard I heard Summertime ringing in my ears.'

The latest: Chris Rock, 58, has opened up for the first time about the infamous Oscars slap he received from Will Smith, 54. The two were seen March 27, 2022 at the ceremony in LA 

he special will air live on March 4 from Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre on the streaming service, a week ahead of this year's Academy Awards broadcast March 13.

The Oscars exchange between Smith and Rock took place after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head, saying, 'Jada, I love you, G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it!' 

The reference was to the 1997 movie which featured Demi Moore with a shaved head. (Pinkett Smith, 51, has diagnosed with alopecia, which causes hair loss.)

The Philadelphia-born actor then walked onstage and smacked Rock, then returned to his seat and shouted at him twice, 'Keep my wife's name out of your f***ing mouth!' to a stunned audience. 

Later in the evening - in his acceptance speech after winning the Best Actor Oscar for his role as tennis patriarch Richard Williams in King Richard - Smith apologized to the Academy and other nominees, but made no reference to Rock.

Smith subsequently apologized on multiple occasions over the incident, and resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ahead of being issued a 10-year ban from the Oscars.

In an apology he issued in July over the incident in an online clip, Smith said his spouse 'had nothing to do with' his attack on Rock.

'I made a choice on my own from my own experiences, from my history with Chris,' he said. 'I want to say sorry to my kids and my family for the heat that I've brought on all of us. 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. 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 will speak about the infamous award show exchange in his new Netflix special Selective Outrage 

He referenced their respective roles in the 2001 Smith film Ali and his 1991 movie New Jack City: 'He played Muhammad Ali! I played Pookie!'
Rock was seen in the 1991 crime drama New Jack City

He referenced their respective roles in the 2001 Smith film Ali and his 1991 movie New Jack City: 'He played Muhammad Ali! I played Pookie!'

Smith made international headlines for his outburst toward the comedian at the event at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California
  • The Oscars exchange between Smith and Rock took place after Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head
Smith subsequently apologized on multiple occasions over the incident, and resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ahead of being issued a 10-year ban from the Oscars

Smith subsequently apologized on multiple occasions over the incident, and resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ahead of being issued a 10-year ban from the Oscars


Last month, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced it  established a crisis team ahead of this year's March 12 ceremony. 

'Because of last year, we've opened our minds to the many things that can happen at the Oscars,' Academy CEO Bill Kramer told TIME.

Kramer said that the institution has implemented the organization of a group focused on handling emergency situations at the annual event. 

He said: 'We have a whole crisis team, something we've never had before, and many plans in place. We've run many scenarios. 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.'

Kramer said that the return of Jimmy Kimmel as host - the late night star previously hosted in 2017 and 2018 - adds another layer of protection in having a veteran entertainer at the helm of the show.

'That's why you want someone like Jimmy on stage who is used to dealing with live TV: Things don't always go as planned,' Kramer said. 'So you have a host in place who can really pivot and manage those moments... because of last year, we've opened our minds to the many things that can happen at the Oscars.'

Kramer said that Academy officials 'could have moved more quickly' in their reactions to the incident involving Smith and Rock, both on the evening of the show and in the aftermath.

'This is really our response after the show, and how we spoke about it, and how we talked to Will and Chris, and our hosts and our members,' he said. 'It was a moment to really bring people together.'


Edited by JumpinJack AJ
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CR has just proved that the moment he went on stage at the Oscars and opened his mouth it was not about any jokes, free speech, comedian thing or any of that IT WAS ALL PERSONAL period.

I have no doubt that something happened between the Smiths and him in the past. There are pics of them together here and there until Jada and CR promoted Madagascar and then nothing, zero, null. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Fck that guy.

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Chris Rock Slams Will Smith in Live Comedy Special for Netflix: “I’m not a victim, baby”

"You will never see me on Oprah crying. It's never gonna happen," the comedian said.


MARCH 4, 2023 8:27PM

Chris Rock during his live Netflix special, 'Selective Outrage'
Chris Rock during his live Netflix special, 'Selective Outrage' COURTESY OF KIRILL BICHUTSKY/NETFLIX
It was the moment many had been waiting nearly a year for — a chance to hear just how Chris Rock would finally address Will Smith’s Oscar night smackdown of the comedian on the Academy stage with a slap that will live in infamy.

Perhaps because Rock knew much of the audience who tuned in were waiting for just that moment, he saved it toward near the end of his set Saturday night during Netflix’s much hyped first live special Chris Rock: Selective Outrage!

But when the moment finally came, Rock didn’t hold back — taking down Smith, dragging his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and targeting the couple’s marital issues (in which Pinkett Smith acknowledged a relationship with singer August Alsina as the couple addressed their marriage on an episode of Red Table Talk).


“Will Smith practices selective outrage,” Rock told the audience. “Outrage because everybody knows what the **** happened. Everybody that really knows, knows that I have nothing to do with that ****. I didn’t have any entanglements.”

He continued, “His wife was ****ing her son’s friend. OK, now, I normally would not talk about this ****, but for some reason, these n—-s put that **** on the internet. I have no idea why two talented people would do something that lowdown. What the ****? And we’ve all been cheated on. Everybody in here has been cheated on. None of us have ever been interviewed by the person that cheated on us on television.”

“She hurt him way more than he hurt me. Everybody in the world called him a bitch. I tried to call the mother****er, I tried to call that man and give him my condolences, he didn’t pick up for me.” He continued by listing all the people who called Smith a “bitch” after that interview on Red Table Talk, including Charlamagne Tha God and The View. “Everybody called him a bitch, and who did he hit? Me — a n—a he knows he could beat. That is some bitch ass ****.”

While this is not the first time Rock addressed Smith’s slap — much of Saturday’s material was present in his shows as he toured the country over the past year — they were the first comments before a wide audience as Rock headlined Netflix’s first foray into live programming, a global event that featured a pre-show and post show with guests that included Arsenio Hall, Amy Schumer, J.B. Smoove, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dana Carvey and others.

“I’m gonna try to do a show tonight without offending nobody,” Rock said, kicking off his stand-up special from Baltimore. “I’m gonna try my best because you never know who’s going to get triggered.”

He added he didn’t mind “wokeness” but isn’t a fan of the “selective outrage,” the kind of people who will listen to Michael Jackson but not R. Kelly: “same crime — one of them just got better songs.”

Among the topics Rock covered included the Capitol Riots: “White men trying to overthrow the government that they run?” Rock said. “They’re like, ‘Damn, we gotta get them out of office.’ Who? Us?”

Later, he touched on the idea that white men felt they were being edged out of power, and joked whether commercials featuring interracial couples were part of their ire.

“There’s no Black couples either,” he said. “Every commercial has a mixed-race couple,” adding that he saw a commercial the other day where a Japanese woman was married to a caterpillar.

“By the way, speaking of commercials, when did Snoop Dogg become Morgan Freeman?” Rock joked. “I saw a commercial the other day where Snoop was selling reverse mortgages.” But he made it a purpose to note that he loves Snoop Dogg. “I’m not dissing Snoop. The last thing I need is another mad rapper,” he added, to cheers from the crowd.

But of course, the rapper who was the main target of the night was Smith, though a good deal of his ire was directed toward Pinkett Smith. Rock recalled when Pinkett Smith had called for Blacks to boycott the Oscars amid the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in 2016; Rock went on to host that year’s show.

“She started this ****. She said that me, a ****ing grown ass man, should quit his job because ‘My husband didn’t get nominated for Concussion,‘ and then this n—-a gives me a ****ing concussion.”

Toward the end of the special, Rock changed his tone a bit, saying, “I loved Will Smith. My whole life, I loved Will Smith. I saw him open up for Run-D.M.C. … He makes great movies. I have rooted for Will Smith my whole life,” Rock said. “And now I watch Emancipation just to see him get whooped.”

Rock used the last minute of Selective Outrage to answer the question he’s gotten a lot since the Slap: Why didn’t you do anything back? “‘Cause I got parents,” Rock said. “‘Cause I was raised. And you know what my parents taught me? Don’t fight in front of white people.”

The pre-show featured appearances from fellow comics and Rock’s friends, including Schumer and Jerry Seinfeld. The Daily Show‘s Ronny Chieng hosted the special, with Hall, Deon Cole and Leslie Jones also appearing.

Chieng kicked off the night live at Los Angeles’ Comedy Store.

“I cannot emphasize how live things are today,” The Daily Show correspondent said. “We are live from two different locations simultaneously, Los Angeles and Baltimore. Why? For absolutely no reason. This is extremely expensive and difficult and irritating.”

The comedian also poked fun at how they’re doing a live comedy show on a Saturday night, a concept that has existed for decades, aka Saturday Night Live.

Chieng then introduced Hall, who shared how Rock got him back into stand-up. Toward the end of his brief set at the Comedy Store, Hall said that he hopes everyone enjoys the night “because I know somewhere Will Smith will not.”

“Trust me. We won’t know this, but I bet you Will Smith slaps the **** out of a TV tonight,” he joked. “He gon’ knock that mother****er off the wall.”

Matthew McConaughey, Ali Wong, Woody Harrelson, Paul McCartney, Rosie Perez, Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Hart, Sarah Silverman, Ice-T, Adam Sandler and many others wished Rock luck ahead of his live event.


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‘Chris Rock: Selective Outrage’ Review: Despite Scathing Will Smith Material, Live Netflix Special Feels Conspicuously Canned

The comic addressed Will Smith and wokeness in his new comedy special, which aired live with a pre-show and post-show.


MARCH 4, 2023 10:56PM
Chris Rock during his live Netflix special, 'Selective Outrage'
Chris Rock during his live Netflix special, 'Selective Outrage' COURTESY OF KIRILL BICHUTSKY/NETFLIX
One day, a century from now, somebody will be checking out Netflix’s Chris Rock: Selective Outrage special. They’ll be doing it on a streaming service dedicated to serving viewers their entertainment in five- or ten-minute chunks — quick bites, as it were — because that will be the way everybody will be ingesting their entertainment in 2123. That person won’t be watching with any interest in the timeliness of the special. They won’t be watching with any hunger for what Chris Rock had to say about wokeness or Will Smith, because if we’re still talking about cancel culture and Slapgate in 2123, that will make mushroom zombies look like utopia. But anyway, they’re gonna be watching and they’re going to very, very briefly be confused by Rock doing a joke about how Slapgate started when Jada Pinkett Smith got pissed off that Will Smith didn’t get an Oscar nomination for Emancipation. And they’re going to be so darned confused. For five seconds.
“Not Emancipation. I ****ed up the joke. Concussion,” Rock said, quickly realizing that the punchline on his horizon involved Smith not getting a nomination for Concussion and then … giving him a concussion.


And that, kids, is the beauty of live TV. Netflix attempted to build a live stunt out of Rock doing stand-up material that he’s been doing on the road for 10 months, and the only thing that would tell you the special was live was — after making viewers wait 61 minutes for the inevitable Will Smith material — Rock ****ing up the joke. A joke he’s probably made around the country dozens of times.

It’s not judgment, by the way, to note that a comedy special is the filmed version of an oft-repeated, highly refined stand-up set. If there’s ever been a comic who did an entirely improvised filmed special, I don’t know who it was — but then again, there’s very rarely been a comic whose workshopped reactions to a very public event were getting printed in newspapers in every city he went to.

“Chris Rock Breaks His Silence on Oscars Slap” is a headline I’m sure you’re going to see on every website in the known universe, which will then repeat the punchlines that journalists in Phoenix and Shreveport and Atlanta reported when Rock made those jokes on the road. Sure, “breaks his silence on national TV,” or whatever it is Netflix is. But this prior workshopping is how I already knew, going into the Netflix special, that Rock was going to make the joke about their respective differences in stature, noting that even in animation, Smith was a shark and Rock was a zebra. This is a joke he has made repeatedly, and nobody cares that in Shark Tale, Smith voices a TINY little fish who hangs out with the shark voiced by Jack Black.


For live TV, Chris Rock will correct the Concussion/Emancipation joke, but he’ll keep perpetrating lies about Shark Tale.

Anyway, as for the actual Will Smith material that everybody was waiting for? Yeah, Rock went off, mostly blaming Jada Pinkett Smith for the whole thing and mocking Will for taking out his frustration about his wife’s very public cuckolding conversations on him.

“That is some bitch-ass ****,” Rock said. Not controversial, but pointed.

I could talk about the text of the special itself, but I’m a TV critic and not a comedy critic. I could point out that a shocking amount of Rock’s material felt somewhere between dated and embalmed. That was a very long run of jokes about Elon Musk’s sperm. That was a weirdly stale series of jokes about the Kardashians and O.J. Simpson. And it’s all fine and well to make jokes about victimization culture in 2023, but it’s material that’s funnier if you didn’t watch Rock’s last Netflix special, Tamborine, in which the entire second half was Rock lamenting his status as the victim in his recent divorce settlement.

The stuff about people getting triggered and woke corporations that started the show? Not awful. Just stale. Material that has been done to death by 50 late-night comics and other comedians who got their new specials out earlier. Rock is a provocateur, darnit! Nothing in Selective Outrage raised my hackles. I didn’t even get a semi-hackle. My hackles were flaccid.

Like Rock’s “Why didn’t Meghan Markle Google the royal family?” bit? The number of people on Twitter who made that joke when Meghan sat down with Oprah and then during her Netflix documentary and every day in between could be in the millions. The thing you have to remember: Rock’s version of the stalest and oldest jokes will always be written better than 99 percent of the comics out there and delivered better than 100 percent of them. Rock is, in this current landscape, a stand-up without peer. This will probably, however, be the first Rock stand-up special ever that didn’t have a moment or many moments that instantly embedded themselves in the culture. The culture moves fast.


That’s part of why Netflix wanted to accentuate the liveness of this special, complete with a pre-show that nobody needed and a post-show that, well, nobody needed.

Ronny Chieng’s intro to the pre-show, mind you, was fantastic. “We’re doing a comedy show. On Saturday night. Live. Genius,” Chieng deadpanned, mocking Netflix’s “innovation” here. That was pretty good. The post-show had some good moments as well, especially everybody on the panel making fun of nominal hosts David Spade and Dana Carvey for the strangeness of two white guys orchestrating the analysis of jokes by a Black comedian. The real joke, though, is how unnecessary post-comedy-special analysis turns out to be in the first place. That, again, is what Twitter is for!

As for how the liveness impacted the show on a formal level? Well, the easiest thing to do is go back and watch Tamborine, a generally uneven but frequently brilliant special that’s notable for how fantastically directed it is. Bo Burnham made a Chris Rock special that looked like no previous Chris Rock special. There are so many close-ups. Almost all close-ups for long stretches. The lighting is impressively evocative. It’s a moody piece of material, and it looks moody! The camera is in exactly the right place to catch every micro-expression when subtlety is the thing Rock is going for, and every piece of physical comedy when he dances or mimes oral sex.

Chris Rock comedy specials have been really well-directed as a rule, and “comedy special direction” isn’t a thing we talk about very often. Give it up to Keith Truesdell for capturing the almost feral, prowling intensity of a young Rock in Bigger & Blacker. Or to Joel Gallen for reflecting the more mature version of Rock a few years later in Never Scare.


Gallen was back behind the camera on Selective Outrage and he just got beat down by live-ness. I can’t say whether or not every Rock performance on his recent tour has been as overlit as this one, but it was like the comic was standing in the floodlights for 72 minutes tonight and the only reasonable justification was that it’s just easier to film if you don’t need to worry about what happens when the performer wanders into a shadow or fails to travel in perfect unison with the spotlight. Instead, Rock was blandly and perfectly over-illuminated every second. Again, go back to Tamborine and see what Burnham accomplished. It’s darned artistic.

Then again, Burnham was lucky enough to be dealing with a slightly more stable piece of Rock self-choreography. Rock began his career as a stage-marcher, going back and forth and back and forth. He seemed to slow and mellow with age. For Selective Outrage? Back to prowling! Back and forth and back and forth! And if you have three or four cameras rolling at all times and you can edit stuff together, that doesn’t need to be a nauseating experience. Here, it was like the primary camera was stuck in the same medium shot, on a tripod, and it just went back and forth and back and forth with him. Like rocking, so to speak, back and forth on a rickety vessel while the audience at Baltimore’s Hippodrome laughed, but never in quite the immersive way we’ve come to expect from crowds at Rock’s specials, which have always been half-entertainment and half-church.


A well-directed comedy special gives you, simultaneously, the impression of being in the audience and having access and intimacy that nobody at home (or even in the venue) gets. There was basically none of that intimacy here. It was like watching a comic appearing on The Tonight Show or something where there’s one camera setup and that’s the perspective you get and you accept it because that’s what the format looks like. This was live, but it felt canned.

Except for that one moment when Rock confused Concussion and Emancipation.

So when you see that guy in 100 years watching Selective Outrage and he gets to the gaffe and he briefly looks confused, that’s when you lean over to him — yes, you’re immortal in this situation, which gives you the right to butt in — and say, “That! That imperfection. That’s the magic of live TV! Oh, and Will Smith was a Bluestreak cleaner wrasse and not a shark in Shark Tale.”

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