Trevor Noah kicked off the 64th Annual Grammy Awards by making a reference to Will Smith’s infamous slap of Chris Rock at the Oscars last Sunday. The Grammys were held barely one week after Smith slapped Rock on the stage during the Academy Awards, after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head while presenting the documentary feature award.
Noah stated of the presentation, “Don’t even think of it as an award show.” “It’s a concert where we’ll be giving out awards, listening to music, dancing, singing, keeping people’s names out of our mouths, and giving people awards all night long.” So let’s get this party started.”
“All right, I’m going to present this award and I trust that you people will stay 500 feet away from me,” Questlove said in response to Will Smith’s slap when presenting the Grammy for song of the year. Giving is far better than receiving, as the saying goes. Well, I’m not so sure about that because it felt great to receive last Sunday.” After Will Smith smacked Chris Rock, Questlove won the Oscar for documentary feature.
In the days following the Oscars, both Smith and Rock spoke about the event. On March 28, Smith sent an apology to Rock. “My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was terrible and reprehensible,” the actor wrote in a statement on social media. Chris, I’d like to officially apologize to you. I was both out of line and incorrect. I’m humiliated, and my actions did not reflect the guy I aspire to be.”
Rock did not publicly address the slap until his March 30 stand-up comedy gig in Boston, albeit the comedian largely avoided discussing the incident. “I don’t have a bunch of garbage about what occurred,” Rock informed the audience, “so if you came to hear that, I have a complete show I wrote before this weekend.” I’m still trying to figure out what happened. So, at some time, I’m going to talk about that nonsense. It’ll be both serious and humorous.”
Since then, there have been conflicting accounts on how the Academy and Oscars producers should have handled the issue during the show. Smith was allegedly asked to leave by the Academy, but he refused. According to Variety, Smith was never formally asked to leave the gathering. Will Packer, the Oscars producer, said “Good Morning America” that he requested that Smith not be “physically removed” off the premises because it was not what Rock intended. Despite reports that the LAPD was preparing to arrest Smith, Rock chose not to press charges or file a report.
Smith announced his departure from the Academy on April 1. The Academy, which denounced his aggressive conduct after the Oscars, now threatened him with “suspension, expulsion, or other punishment.” The Academy’s next board meeting is set for April 18.