Sources Are Disputing The Academy’s Claim That Will Smith Was Asked To Leave The Oscars

On Wednesday evening, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences released a statement that claimed Will Smith was asked to leave the Oscars after slapping Chris Rock on stage, but the King Richard actor refused to exit the venue. The statement contradicted previous reports that producers and Academy officials deliberated for too long over whether to escort Smith from the building, which allowed him enough time to take the stage and accept his award for Best Actor.

However, sources for Variety are already refuting the Academy’s claim that Smith was formally asked to leave the Oscars. Insiders at the event claim there was a considerable amount of confusion over what to do after the assault, but there was never a firm effort to remove Smith from the ceremony. For the record, a source “familiar with the Academy” disputes that claim and says an “on-site representative” told Smith to leave per a request from Academy president David Rubin. (Going cross-eyed yet?)

Obviously, Smith never left the building, and according to sources, that was because of Oscars producer Will Packer, who reportedly made the call to keep Smith at the ceremony. Although, that assertion is also being disputed. Via Variety:

In the roughly 30 minutes following Smith’s attack on Rock, before the award for best actor was presented, Packer walked out into the orchestra and conferred with Smith, according to two witnesses. Packer said that he and the production “officially” wanted Smith to stay for the remainder of the show, according to one of the witnesses. Another source close to Packer denied that the producer urged Smith to remain.

Packer did not respond to requests for comment. Spokespeople for Smith and AMPAS declined to comment.

In a nutshell, lots of finger-pointing going on! Although, it does confirm earlier reports that there was a significant clash between Academy members and the Oscars producers over keeping Smith in the building. That fight appears to be ongoing only, now, through the press.

(Via Variety)