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Rushfield Slap

Richard Rushfield: “To be crystal clear here — The Slap was the logical outcome, the punctuation point of the drift of the Academy and the larger industry around it. Years of self-absorbed indulgence, of shows built around indulging all our problems and angst, our narcissism, and treating the audience like pesky distractions, came right down to this. This was the natural conclusion, the denouement if you will, of the entire drift of the past two decades of Oscar and of the industry.”

More Rushfield: “Will Smith is a goddamn genius… Or his publicist is. All the while the Academy dithers and takes three weeks to “investigate,” and consider appropropriate response, check with lawyers no doubt, comb the by-laws to see what guidance it gives for an act of violence by one member against another during the ceremony, consider precedents, take the temperature of the membership, etc. etc. Perhaps even appoint a blue-ribbon panel whydoncha! The Academy had one chance to redeem itself — by acting clearly and decisively in response to this. Making up for what they failed to do on the night with some fuzzy repercussions later. Of course they were never going to do that.  And now that rug has been pulled out from under them. Will Smith has slapped the Academy’s face once again…

So where was ABC during all this? More to the point, where was Disney? And here’s where you get the problem of having someone at the helm who doesn’t come from production, and has never been in a mile of live entertainment production becomes a problem. As much as I think the Iger/Chapek comparisons are generally unfair and misleading, in this case there’s something to it. It’s hard to believe that Bob I, who made his way up overseeing Olympics coverage, would’ve sat on his hands while this was going on and not put in a call to the booth, to the Academy, and not said, get that man off my airwaves! So where was Disney television leadership (Chapek, Peter Rice, Dana Walden) during all this? Did they voice any concerns about what was happening in their broadcast?”

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