Tony Awards Issues ‘Strict No Violence Policy’ After Will Smith Slap

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Topline

Producers of the Tony Awards, which celebrate Broadway theater, warned potential ticket buyers Wednesday of a “strict no violence policy” at the ceremony, multiple outlets report, expressly stating perpetrators will be removed from the awards show, following the incident last month when actor Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards.

Key Facts

Anyone at the Tony Awards who violates the policy “will be removed from the event immediately,” according to the letter, which was reported by the New York Times and Deadline.

The policy, which Deadline reports is new from past ceremonies, was stipulated in the FAQ section of a letter sent to potential ticket buyers, alongside other rules like requiring Covid-19 vaccinations and the ticket cancellation policy.

The warning comes after Smith slapped Rock onstage at the Oscars on March 27, after which he was allowed to stay at the ceremony and accept his award for Best Actor.

Whether Smith should have been removed from the awards show has been a matter of some controversy: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences claimed it had asked Smith to leave but he refused, but sources then told Deadline and Variety that no such request was made.

Awards producer Will Packer then said on Good Morning America the Academy was planning to kick out Smith, but Rock told awards producers he did not want Smith to be removed so as to not “make a bad situation worse.”

The Tony Awards has not yet responded to a request for comment about the policy.

What To Watch For

The Tony Awards will take place on June 12 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and will air live on CBS and Paramount Plus.

Tangent

The impending Tony Awards come as Broadway has faced new concerns amid rising Covid-19 cases in New York City linked to the omicron BA.2 subvariant, which has already sparked the cancellation of some Broadway shows. Productions have to open by April 28 to be eligible for this year’s awards, and at least six shows have still yet to open. (There are more Broadway shows opening this April than any other theater season in at least a decade, the Times reports.) That’s sparked concerns the Tony Awards could be affected by the Covid surge, should any shows have to push back their opening dates past the deadline or any lengthy cancellations affect the timeline that awards voters have to see the nominated shows.

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Key Background

Smith slapped Rock and yelled at the comedian to “keep [his] wife’s name out your f**king mouth” after the comedian made a joke onstage about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia, starring in a sequel to G.I. Jane. The slap has already resulted in a slew of consequences for Smith, who resigned from the Academy as it conducted a review into the incident and has now been banned from attending the Oscars for 10 years. Smith has apologized for slapping Rock, saying his actions were “out of line” and “there is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.” Rock still hasn’t spoken in detail about the incident, though he told an audience at his comedy show after it happened he was still “kind of processing what happened.”

Further Reading

Tony Awards Producers Warn Potential Slappers: You Will Be Removed (Deadline)

Oscars Producer Will Packer Says Chris Rock Didn’t Want Will Smith To Be Removed From Ceremony (Forbes)

Broadway Shows Canceling Performances — Again — As NYC Covid Cases Rise (Forbes)

Broadway Bets Big on a Spring Rebound. Will the Virus Cooperate? (New York Times)

Will Smith Banned From Oscars For 10 Years (Forbes)

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