“The Issue Is”: Behind the scenes of the slap that rocked the Oscars

War in Ukraine? The March Jobs Report? Inflation? The latest on the BA.2 Omicron Subvariant? No, this week, all anyone could talk about was a slap at The Academy Awards.

The shocking moment unfolded on live TV in front of millions, Will Smith taking the stage at the 94th Oscars and slapping comedian Chris Rock over a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada.

Smith then returned to his seat and launched into a profanity-laced tirade.

Minutes later, Smith was back on stage, accepting the award for Best Actor, the audience giving him a standing ovation.

In the days that followed, a flurry of questions: Did Smith refuse to leave the ceremony? Was he even asked to? Would the Academy take his Oscar back? Would Rock joke about the incident on his comedy tour? And now that Smith has resigned from the Academy, what discipline may still be in store?

This week on "The Issue Is," Elex Michaelson is joined by Puck News co-founder Matt Belloni, he was inside The Dolby Theater, and pulls the curtain back on the incident, the fallout, and the chaos and strategizing that’s taken place behind the scenes.

Then, Michaelson is joined by Nathan Hochman, Republican candidate for California Attorney General, and Justice Patricia Guerrero, who this week became the first-ever Latina on the California Supreme Court.



BELLONI’S CENTRAL TAKE: "We all thought it was a bit... these are two guys that have done comedic antics before on stage. It was only when Will Smith got back to his chair and had this look of fiery rage on his face and started screaming f-bombs - that is not typical Will Smith behavior - that is when the room went absolutely, deathly quiet, pin-drop quiet, nobody could believe it. We started looking at each other like, 'is this really happening?' Then it was very clear it was real…"

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BELLONI’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It was an emergency meeting. There's a 54 member board that governs the academy and it comes from all different branches... It was very heated. They wanted answers. This was hugely embarrassing and angering to many Academy members who believe that Will Smith, essentially, hijacked the show and did innumerable damage to the Oscars' brand with what he did. Now they had to figure out how to punish him and how to make sure this doesn't happen ever again…"



HOCHMAN’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Recently, we had an LAPD officer get murdered by four gang members when he was off duty. The Sheriff of L.A. County, Alex Villanueva, who's actually endorsed me, and the Chief of Police, Michael Moore of the LAPD, took that case not to the DA's office, which would be its natural home, but to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the feds, instead, because George Gascon has a blanket policy of not going ahead and filing gang enhancements and gun enhancements, which would have resulted in this case getting life without the possibility of parole. But I told Sheriff Villanueva what I would do on day one, is if a case like that came up again, the California Attorney General can come in, in fact, has the constitutional duty, to come into any jurisdiction where a prosecutor is not doing his duty and take over that prosecution. I told him that if I was the Attorney General would come in with the Attorney General's Office and take over a prosecution like that if George Gascon refused to do it…."



JUSTICE GUERRERO’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I hope to be able to serve as a role model for other people so that they can see with hard work, perseverance, and opportunities, that they too can achieve their dreams, and it doesn't have to be in the legal field, but I hope that when they look at me, and other members of our Court, they can see somebody that they can relate to. Hopefully I can inspire others as well.... I actually have been fortunate to have some words shared with me that have inspired me, from Justice Sotomayor. I would just like to echo her comments, just really to follow your dreams and to be true to who you are and also to rely on others in times of uncertainty, rely on those who have grounded you and who have inspired you, and to never give up on your dreams…."


The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.

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