By now, almost all parties involved in the now-infamous slap heard around the world have given some form of a statement regarding the incident. However, critics had yet to hear from the man who put together was supposed to be a historic night of award-giving: film producer Will Packer.
The 47-year-old Hollywood executive recently sat down with “Good Morning America” where he shared some details of what took place backstage after Will Smith got on stage during Chris Rocks’ presentation of the Best Documentary category and smacked the comedian shortly after he made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, noting that the Los Angeles Police department was fully prepared to arrest Smith.
According to the “Girls Trip” producer, Smith was asked to leave the Dolby Theatre after slapping Rock before discussions escalated to physical removal. “They were saying, ‘This is battery’ — was the word they used in that moment. They said, “ ‘We will go get him. We are prepared. We are prepared to get him right now. You can press charges. We can arrest him,’ ” Packer told T.J. Holmes.
“As they were talking, Chris was … being very dismissive of those options. He was, like, ‘No, I’m fine.’ He was, like, ‘No, no, no…’ ” Even to the point where I said, ‘Rock, let them finish,'” Packer continued. “The LAPD officers finished laying out what his options were, and they said, ‘Would you like us to take any action?’ And [Chris] said, ‘No.’ ”
Packer claimed that Smith was going to be forcibly removed from the show right before he would ultimately go on to win the award for Best Actor for his role in “King Richard,” but he “immediately” expressed to the Academy that Rock said Smith should stay.
“I said, ‘Rock had made it clear that he does not want to make a bad situation worse.’ His tone was not retaliatory. His tone was not aggressive or angry,” Packer noted. “So I was advocating what Rock wanted in that time, which was not to physically remove Will Smith.”
Rock has since received high praise for his conduct and professionalism amid the ordeal. However, some feel Rock’s lack of public reaction is just a ploy for what’s to come, including one Instagram user who wrote, “Chris saving that ammunition for the comedy special on Netflix just wait.” Meanwhile, several critics argued that having Smith arrested would’ve been a bit dramatic in this case. “Maybe I’m from a different planet. I ain’t think it was THAT serious,” wrote one user. “Y’all act like he got assassinated on stage.”
Still, almost a week later, many have grown tired of the conversation, including one person who commented, “Ok, what are they trying to distract us from. I’m so tired of hearing about this.”
A board meeting is set for April 18, during which the Academy said it “may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct,” against Smith.