Chris Rock addressed “the slap” again on tour — and he had some new information to share. While performing his stand-up show in Phoenix, Ariz. on Sunday night, the comedian claimed he was asked to host next year’s Oscars. It’s only been five months since Will Smith stormed the stage during the awards show and hit Rock across the face for making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith‘s hair.
The Arizona Republic reports that during the show, “Rock compared returning to the Oscars like returning to the scene of a crime, referencing the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, whose ex-wife’s killing began with her leaving a pair of eyeglasses at an Italian restaurant. Rock said returning to the award ceremony would be like asking Nicole Brown Simpson ‘to go back to the restaurant.'”
Rock, who’s previously joked about the incident, said he refused the invitation. He also revealed he was offered a Super Bowl commercial due to the incident, but “profanely” refused that as well, per the paper. Rock did not refuse to discuss the slap, though. When someone in the sold-out crowd egged him on to talk about it, the comic admitted the blow from Smith, who played boxer Muhammad Ali in Ali, hurt.
“He’s bigger than me,” Rock purportedly quipped. “The state of Nevada would not sanction a fight between me and Will Smith.”
Yahoo Entertainment reached out to the Academy for comment on Rock’s claims, but did not immediately receive a response. However, the group typically never responds to hosting rumors (or offers).
ABC President of Entertainment Craig Erwich said in May he was open to Rock hosting the 2023 telecast. The comedian previously hosted in 2005 and 2016.
“My assessment of the Oscars was that it was really a successful year for the show. 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,” Erwich told Deadline. “Even before that very unfortunate moment, the show started off up year over year, and we came back in a big way.”
Smith resigned from the Academy after the incident and was later banned from Academy related events for 10 years. After months of staying out of the spotlight, the actor has slowly begun to emerge from hiding. One month ago, Smith returned to social media and apologized to Rock.
“There is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment. There is no part of me that thinks that’s the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults,” Smith said.
“I’ve reached out to Chris and the message that came back is he’s not ready to talk and when he is, he will reach out. So I will say to you, Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable and I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk,” Smith added.
Insiders say it’s unlikely that Rock is eager to sit down with the Oscar winner anytime soon.
The comedian, who was explaining why he turned down the offer to host the 2023 Oscars during a Sunday set in Phoenix, Arizona, was blasted up and down Twitter on Monday for the tasteless joke.
“Chris Rock spends way too much time punching down on women. It wasn’t the first time he said nasty crap about Jada Pinkett Smith, and it isn’t the first time he made vile remarks about Nicole Brown Simpson. (a murdered woman) I’m done with this pos. Srsly,” tweeted Linda Coats.
Kaz Waida wrote, “If this misogyny surprises you, welcome to the world Chris Rock been living in this whole time. Here he is in 1996 doing a set where he sympathizes with OJ and argues Nicole Brown Simpson had it coming.” She shared a clip from his “Bring the Pain” special, where he says (at about three minutes in), “I’m not saying he shoulda killed her. But I understand.”
Several people suggested that Will Smith “didn’t slap him hard enough,” with one person calling for the comedian to be suspended by the Academy, as Smith was. “Can the academy suspend Chris Rock over his Nicole Brown Simpson remark?… I think I understand where Will Smith was coming from better.”
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