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Will Smith banned from Oscars for 10 years, Academy says

Will Smith has been banned from the Oscars for 10 years after slapping Chris Rock during last month's awards show. The Academy made the announcement Friday in a letter sent by president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson and obtained by CBS News.

"The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year; however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage," the letter said.

"Today, the Board of Governors convened a meeting to discuss how best to respond to Will Smith's actions at the Oscars, in addition to accepting his resignation," the letter continued. "The Board has decided, for a period of 10 years from April 8, 2022, Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events or programs, in person or virtually, including but not limited to the Academy Awards."

Actor Will Smith slaps comedian Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, March 27, 2022. ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

In a statement to CBS News, Smith said: "I accept and respect the Academy's decision."

Rubin and Hudson also thanked Rock, who has said he's still processing what happened, for "maintaining his composure under extraordinary circumstances." They said the Academy "did not adequately address the situation in the room."

"For this, we are sorry. This was an opportunity for us to set an example for our guests, viewers and our Academy family around the world, and we fell short — unprepared for the unprecedented."

Rubin and Hudson said the Academy's decision to ban Smith "is a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring trust in the Academy." 

Last week, Smith resigned from the Academy, apologizing to the Academy and Rock and saying he was "heartbroken." At the time, Rubin said the organization had "received and accepted" Smith's resignation, and "will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy's Standards of Conduct."

The slap, which sent shock waves across Hollywood, came after Rock made a joke about Smith's wife. Rock said he was looking forward to a sequel to "G.I. Jane" starring Jada Pinkett Smith, which was a reference to her shaved head. Pinkett Smith has spoken publicly about losing her hair from the autoimmune disease alopecia.

Smith then walked onstage and slapped Rock, before returning to his seat and yelling, "Keep my wife's name out of your f***ing mouth." Rock declined to press charges, and the LAPD did not take any action against Smith, though the incident has sparked intense public debate about whether his actions were justified. 

Smith's decision to resign came days after the Academy said it had launched a formal review into his conduct, which included "inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy."

Though it's possible the Academy could take back the Oscar he won for "King Richard" soon after the slap, Whoopi Goldberg, who serves on the Academy's Board of Governors, has said they would not strip him of the award.  

Victoria Albert contributed reporting.

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