Trevor Noah jokes about Will Smith's Oscars slap at the 2022 Grammys
It was inevitable.
Grammy Awards host Trevor Noah kicked off Sunday's telecast with a fairly mundane opening monologue, making jokes about Justin Bieber's Peaches being the best thing to happen to the fruit "since that Timothée Chalamet movie" and asking if Billie Eillish's brother Finneas' last name was also Eillish (it's not).
But held just one week after the most talked-about Oscars in years, music's biggest night was bound to have a reference to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock following Rock's joke about Jada Pinkett Smith.
"Don't even think of it as an award show. This is a concert where we're giving out awards. We're going to listening to some music, we're going to be dancing, we're going to be singing, we're going to be keeping people's names out of our mouths," Noah said at the end of his monologue, the last part referencing Smith's now-infamous outburst.
The infamous slap was also referenced by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, who won Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars for Summer of Soul moments after Smith stormed the stage. Before presenting Song of the Year at this year's Grammys, The Roots drummer joked, "I'm going to present this award and I trust you people will stay 500 feet away from me."
Another reference came in the pre-show ceremony. LeVar Burton introduced nominated comedian Nate Bargatze by saying, "The next presenter is a comedian. I need to caution everybody: remain in your seats and keep your hands to yourselves."
An eight-time Grammy nominee with four golden gramophones to his name, Smith is currently the subject of disciplinary hearings by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. A statement released Wednesday revealed that the board of governors is looking into the actor's violations of the organization's standards of conduct, including "inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and compromising the integrity of the Academy."
"Consistent with the Academy's Standards of Conduct, as well as California law, Mr. Smith is being provided at least 15 days' notice of a vote regarding his violations and sanctions, and the opportunity to be heard beforehand by means of a written response," the statement read. "At the next board meeting on April 18, the Academy may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct."
The statement continued, "Mr. Smith's actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television. Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests, and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event."
The Academy concluded, "While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently."
Smith, who went on to win Best Actor at the Oscars and celebrate his victory at parties afterwards, issued an apology the day after the awards show and formally resigned from the Academy on Friday.
"The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home," Smith said in a statement provided to EW. "I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken. I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film."
Calling his actions "shocking, painful, and inexcusable," Smith also said he had responded to a disciplinary hearing notice from the Academy and would "fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct." He concluded by saying, "Change takes time, and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason."
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