Jimmy Kimmel: Will Smith Slap Has to Be Addressed at 2023 Oscars

No avoiding it? Jimmy Kimmel is already preparing to host the 2023 Oscars — and he’s pretty sure the infamous Will Smith slap will still be the talk of the night.

“It’s got to come up in some way,” the late-night host, 55, told Extra shortly after being announced as the emcee of the 95th annual Academy Awards. “You know, I don’t want to really make light of it necessarily, because it wasn’t [light] to comedians. You know, comedians are mad about it. … It’s like, it’s one of those things that for a group of people that find everything funny, it’s, like, not funny, you know? But of course … when they read the wrong winner one year when I hosted the Oscars, we had to make mention of that the next year.”

Kimmel has hosted the awards show twice before: first in 2017 and again in 2018. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway incorrectly announced La La Land as the best picture winner at the 2017 ceremony — the trophy ended up going to Moonlight — and the flub was the most-talked about moment of the night.

Randy Holmes/ABC

When he returned to the Oscars the following year, the Brooklyn native didn’t shy away from poking fun at the mistake. “This year, when you hear your name called, don’t get up right away. Just give us a minute,” he teased during his monologue. “We don’t want another thing.”

The Jimmy Kimmel Live! host continued: “What happened last year was unfortunate, and I’ve not told this story in public because I wanted to save it for tonight. But here’s what happened. This is true. Last year, about a week before the show, the producers asked me if I wanted to do some comedy with the accountants. And I said, ‘No, I don’t want to do comedy with the accountants.’ So, then the accountants went ahead and did comedy on their own. And I have to hand it to them, it was hilarious. But it won’t happen again.”

Last year, the Academy Awards were hosted by a trio of A-list ladies: Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes. However, their funniest bits were overshadowed after Smith, 54, stormed the stage and slapped presenter Chris Rock across the face. The Madagascar star, 57, had just finished telling a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith‘s buzzed haircut when the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out your f–king mouth!”

94th Annual Academy Awards, Show, Los Angeles, USA - 27 Mar 2022
Rob Latour/Shutterstock

Smith went on to win the best actor trophy later that night for his performance in King Richard, and he issued a public apology to Rock one day after the ceremony. In April, the Will author resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was banned from any Oscars-related events for the next 10 years.

Despite the unexpected drama, ABC exec Craig Erwich was pleased with the 2022 awards show. “My assessment of the Oscars was that it was really a successful year for the show,” he told Deadline in May. “Obviously there was a lot of controversy, which overshadowed a lot of the positive things about the show, but I was really happy with the program. Even before that very unfortunate moment, the show started off up year over year, and we came back in a big way.”

Kimmel, for his part, sparked backlash after the 2022 Emmy Awards in September when he played dead on stage as Quinta Brunson accepted one of her two historic wins. The Abbott Elementary star, 32, won both Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. When it comes time for the Oscars next March, the comedian may leave the pranks behind.

“I’ll be standing [when I host],” he told Extra. “I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll be standing. In fact, I’m going to wear lifts.”

(With Inputs from usmagazine)

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