Chris Rock Comedy Tour Beginning; Will He Address Will Smith Oscar Smack?

94th Annual Academy Awards - Show

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HOLLYWOOD (CNS) - Comedian Chris Rock tonight could finally address the ``slap heard 'round the world,'' as he begins a worldwide stand-up comedy tour and appears in public for the first time since being smacked on stage at the Oscars by actor Will Smith.

Meanwhile, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Board of Governors is expected to meet Wednesday, and the issue of Smith's actions during Sunday's ceremony is likely to be a major point of discussion.

But it could be weeks before the Academy reaches any conclusions in the formal review it announced Monday in response to the altercation. In a letter sent to Academy members Tuesday and obtained by several trade publications, Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson reiterated their outrage at Smith's on-stage assault of Rock, but said it will take some time for consequences to be determined.

``To be clear, we condemn Mr. Smith's actions that transpired Sunday night,'' the letter stated. ``As outlined in our bylaws, the Academy's Board of Governors will now make a determination on appropriate action for Mr. Smith. As governed by California law regarding members of nonprofit organizations like the Academy, and set forth in our Standards of Conduct, this must follow an official process that will take a few weeks.

``We will continue to update you on any developments, but we also ask that you respect your board, Academy staff and the process as this unfolds so it can work in the considered way it was intended and mandated. Please trust that the Board of Governors will conduct this process in a manner that is both expedient and respectful of all involved while maintaining the standards of the Academy.''

There was still no indication of what potential consequences Smith could face, but the options likely include either a suspension of his Academy membership or a permanent expulsion.

He is unlikely to have his best-actor Oscar win for ``King Richard'' rescinded. The Academy has previously expelled members including Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski and Harvey Weinstein, but none were forced to surrender any previous Oscar wins.

Rock was on the Dolby Theatre stage Sunday night to present the Oscar for best documentary feature, but he made a joke about Smith's wife -- actress Jada Pinkett Smith -- and her bald head, suggesting she would be starring in a sequel to ``G.I. Jane.''

Pinkett Smith has talked in the past about having the hair-loss condition alopecia.

Smith, who was seated in the front of the theater, walked onto the stage and smacked Rock across the face, then returned to his seat, screaming at Rock twice, telling him to ``keep my wife's name out of your (expletive) mouth.''

When he later won the best actor Oscar for ``King Richard'' -- for his portrayal of the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams -- he tearfully apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees, but not to Rock.

Smith issued a formal written apology Monday, saying, ``Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive.''

``My behavior at last night's Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada's medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally,'' he said.

``I would like to publicly apologize 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 apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams family and my `King Richard' family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.

``I am a work in progress.''

On Tuesday, Jada Pinkett Smith wrote on Instagram: ``This is a season for healing and I'm here for it.''

Rock has not made any public comments since the altercation. But ticket sales quickly began soaring for his comedy tour.

``We sold more tickets to see Chris Rock overnight than we did in the past month combined,'' ticket company TickPick tweeted Monday.

Rock's tour, dubbed the ``Chris Rock Ego Death World Tour 2022,'' opens Wednesday in Boston, and concludes with stops at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood -- site of the infamous slap -- on Nov. 17 and Nov. 18. He will appear at the Fantasy Springs Resort in Riverside County on April 8.

Meanwhile, reaction continues to mount in Hollywood.

Amy Schumer, who co-hosted Sunday's ceremony along with Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes, wrote on her Instagram page late Monday that she was ``still triggered and traumatized.''

``I love my friend (Rock) and believe he handled it like a pro,'' she wrote. ``Stayed up there and gave an Oscar to his friend (Questlove) and the whole thing was so disturbing. So much pain in (Smith). Anyway I'm still in shock and stunned and sad. I'm proud of myself and my co-hosts. But yeah. Waiting for this sickening feeling to go away from what we all witnessed.''

Sykes, appearing on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show, also said she was ``still a little traumatized'' by the altercation. She also decried the decision to allow Smith to remain in the Dolby Theatre and accept the Oscar after attacking Rock.

``For them to let him stay in that room and enjoy the rest of the show and accept his award, I was like, how gross is this? This is just the wrong message,'' she said. ``You assault somebody, you get escorted out the building and that's it. For them to let him continue, I thought it was gross. Plus, I wanted to be able to run out after he won and say, `Unfortunately, Will couldn't be here tonight.'''

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