Jimmy Kimmel unsurprisingly had a whole lot more Will Smith/slap jokes prepared for this year’s Oscars, but executive producer Molly McNearney (who’s also Kimmel’s wife) explained why they were ultimately cut from the show in a new interview with Variety.
“We didn’t want to make this year all about last year,” McNearney said. “I cannot tell you how many Will Smith jokes we had that then we got rid of. We think that only the best for that room made it.”
Of course, there were a few bits about Smith slapping Chris Rock sprinkled throughout, starting with Kimmel’s monolog PSA: “If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during this show, you will be awarded the Oscar for Best Actor and permitted to give a 19-minute-long speech.”
Before the Best Documentary prize was presented — the award Rock was handing out when Smith slapped him — Kimmel quipped, “Hopefully it goes off this time without a hitch, or at least without Hitch.” And, at the very end of the show, Kimmel went over to a sign that read, “Number of Oscar Telecasts Without Incident” and flipped a zero to a one.
All things considered, these jokes were clever, though fairly tame. McNearney said that there were “certainly some [jokes] that went harder” but added, “we didn’t think that was our place to do that. That should be Chris Rock, not us.” (Indeed, Rock unloaded on Smith in his new stand-up special, released earlier this month.)
McNearney added of the show’s approach to addressing the slap, “[W]e really liked the idea of making fun of the reaction to it last year. I think we’re all still in a bit of shock of how that went down and how after watching that violence, everyone had to then sit through an acceptance speech.”
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