Despite calls for Chris Rock to withdraw from hosting and boycott the Oscars over the award show’s lack of diversity among nominees, not only will the comedian still host the February 28th ceremony, he plans to confront the controversy head on during the broadcast. In a new interview, Oscars producer Reginald Hudlin said that Rock will use his opening monologue to call out the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for nominating all white actors for the second straight year, which fueled the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.
“You should expect [#OscarsSoWhite jokes],” Hudlin told Entertainment Tonight. “And, yes, the Academy is ready for him to do that. They’re excited about him doing that. They know that’s what we need. They know that’s what the public wants, and we deliver what the people want.” Rock previously joked about the Oscars’ lack of diversity on his Twitter account, calling the award show “The White BET Awards.”
The spread of #OscarsSoWhite and the subsequent boycott by Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee forced Rock to tear up his original monologue and go with something more topical. “Chris is hard at work. He and his writing staff locked themselves in a room,” Hudlin said. “As things got a little provocative and exciting, he said, ‘I’m throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show.'”
News of Rock’s rewritten Oscars monologue comes just days after the Academy pledged to making sweeping and “historic” changes to its mostly white, mostly male membership by doubling the number of women and minority voters by 2020. “The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs in a statement.
Saturday Night Live also poked fun at the controversy on their latest episode: