It seems that Jimmy Kimmel’s Oscars jokes aimed at Will Smith could have been more ruthless, but the show’s executive producer didn’t think it was appropriate.
“We didn’t want to make this year all about last year,” Molly McNearney, executive producer and wife to host Kimmel, told Variety. “I cannot tell you how many Will Smith jokes we had that then we got rid of. We think that only the best for that room made it. There were certainly some that went harder, but we didn’t think that was our place to do that. That should be Chris Rock, not us.”
They still addressed the incident, though it seems more sparingly. “We really liked the idea of making fun of the reaction to it last year,” she added. “I think we’re all still in a bit of shock of how that went down and how after watching that violence everyone had to then sit through an acceptance speech.”
Last year, after Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage for joking about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair loss, Smith won Best Actor for King Richard and didn’t directly apologize to Rock during the acceptance speech.
Kimmel made a quip about having to give a speech during his opening monologue. “We know this is a special night for you. We want you to have fun,” he joked. “We want you to feel safe. And most importantly, we want me to feel safe. So we have strict policies in place. If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during the show, you will be awarded the Oscar for Best Actor and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech.”
Kimmel also joked about the audience’s reaction to the slap last year. “Seriously, The Academy has a crisis team in place. If anything unpredictable or violent happens during the ceremony. Just do what you did last year: nothing,” he said. “Sit there and do absolutely nothing. Maybe even give the assailant a hug.”
Since the controversy, Smith has apologized to Rock and is no longer a member of the Academy. He has also been prohibited from attending Academy events for the next decade.