Will Smith Is Gone, but the Academy Hasn’t Even Begun to Deal with the Sting of His Slap


As every Hollywood publicist knows, controlling the narrative is the secret to success. When presumptive Best Actor winner Will Smith smacked Chris Rock across the face on the Oscars stage everyone lost that control, including Smith. “It was like someone poured concrete in that room,” producer Will Packer said on Good Morning America on Friday, in his own bid to claw back some of that power. “It sucked the life out of that room and it never came back.”

Jessica Chastain and Ariana DeBose delivered smart speeches that did the Oscars proud. Best Supporting Actor winner Troy Kotsur saw his hometown of Mesa, Arizona fly banners to celebrate his historic victory. Smith also could have enjoyed the sweet peak of his three-decade career this week: One reason he won the Oscar is Hollywood understood that he might never deliver a strong performance in a movie as well-reviewed as “King Richard.” (Its 76 Metascore is his best ever.)


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