The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in a statement issued on Monday condemned the actions of best actor winner Will Smith after the “King Richard” star stormed the stage and slapped presenter Chris Rock in the face during Sunday’s Oscars ceremony.
“The Academy condemns the actions of Mr. Smith at last night’s show,” the statement said. “We have officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law.”
Earlier on Monday, CNN learned that Academy leadership “strongly considered” removing Smith from the Oscars telecast after the incident, according to a source close to the situation.
“Academy leadership strongly considered removing Will Smith from last night’s broadcast following the incident. There were immediate discussions but the Academy decision makers were seated in various spots in the Dolby Theater and couldn’t mobilize to make a decision before he won best actor,” the source said.
Smith apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees during his best actor acceptance speech.
Following the ceremony, the Academy Awards tweeted a short statement about the on-stage incident that read: “The Academy does not condone violence of any form. Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”
At least a dozen members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the Oscars, met virtually on Monday morning to discuss a response to Smith slapping Rock, according to two sources with knowledge of the meeting.
The meeting was described as “heated” and “divided.” There was no agreement on further action, according to the sources.
The dozen members who met on their own volition and are being described as influential and recognizable members of the Academy, including actors and directors. The group does not have any disciplinary power, but they are considered high profile enough that the Board of Governor’s for the Academy could be influenced in any response they may have.
Some people on the call said the Academy mishandled the incident with its initial tweet. Others feel that the situation was handled properly and no further steps should be taken, according to the sources who spoke to CNN.
It’s unclear if the Academy leadership is planning on meeting to discuss the unprecedented situation. CNN has contacted the Academy for further comment.
The Academy’s Board of Governors has the power to discipline members who violate their code of conduct through a vote for suspension or expulsion from the Academy.
Rock chose not to press charges against Smith over the onstage altercation, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
CNN has reached out to Smith’s representatives for comment.
There are more than 9,000 voting members of the Academy, comprised of Hollywood artists and film executives.