Although unexpectedly getting slapped across the face is never fun, what has become known as “the slap heard around the world” at the 2022 Academy Awards may award Chris Rock, 57, a new opportunity. In a May 17 interview, Craig Erwich, ABC’s president of entertainment, revealed he is not opposed to the idea of the comedian hosting the 2022 show, per Deadline. He also raved about the success of the show, despite the awkward and unscripted surprise moment.
“My assessment of the Oscars was that it was really a successful year for the show,” he told Deadline. “Obviously there was a lot of controversy, which overshadowed a lot of the positive things about the show, but I was really happy with the program. Even before that very unfortunate moment, the show started off up year over year, and we came back in a big way.” According to Deadline, the 2022 Oscars saw nearly a 60 percent increase in viewers from the previous year.
Chris was slapped by Will Smith, 53, while on stage at the show after he made a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith‘s, bald head. “Jada, can’t wait for G.I. Jane 2!” Chris smiled. Will then walked on stage, slapped the comedian, and repeatedly yelled at him to keep Jada’s name out of his mouth. Attendees and viewers alike were at first confused about the incident and were unsure if it was real. However, when Will later won Best Actor for his starring role in King Richard, he apologized for his behavior, making it clear his emotional reaction was unplanned. He more formally apologized on Instagram one day after the March 27 event.
Chris has not publicly responded to the apology, but he did joke about the infamous slap in May during a comedy show in London. “I’m OK, if anybody was wondering. Got most of my hearing back,” he laughed while standing on stage at the Royal Albert Hall. “Don’t expect me to talk about the bulls**t. I’ll talk about it at some point – on Netflix. Your tickets were expensive, but not that expensive,” he added.
According to an inside source, it doesn’t seem like Chris will be able to formally address the situation or Will’s apology anytime soon. “He can’t imagine forgiving Will, being friends with him. It is just a very weird thing to fully envelope,” a person close to Chris EXCLUSIVELY told HollywoodLife in April. “He doesn’t know when he will talk about it, he knows he will have to at some point, but he literally is focusing on his tour and for the dust to fully settle,” the source added. “It is still raw, emotional, and confusing to deal with and wrap his head around.”
On the bright side, if Chris does host the 2023 Academy Awards, he doesn’t have to worry about Will making any sort of contact with him. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences officially banned Will from all functions hosted by The Academy, including the Oscars, for 10 years beginning on April 8.