And so today I move in a slightly different direction, musing on an inevitable film based on a certain incident at this year's Oscars that I wish I'd seen coming. Even though I wouldn't have been watching. Needless to say I'll incorporate it into next year's post for how I think the Oscars should go...
Director And Producer Announce New Project Based On Infamous Moment At The Oscars, Few Surprised
Los Angeles (AP) It was an incident that made the news, even for those who didn't see it happen. During the Oscars this year, comedian Chris Rock came out to present an Oscar but couldn't pass up the chance to make fun of a few people. A relatively minor joke about Jada Pinkett-Smith resulted in Will Smith slapping Rock- after laughing at the joke first. Smith, who subsequently won the Best Actor for the year, has since been barred from attending the Oscars for a few years. Rock, for his part, has seen an uptick in audiences for his comedy shows.
People fretted and gossiped, questioned why it was that a fairly mild joke set off Smith (when Rock could have easily gone with something more humiliating- like infidelities in the marriage). They made memes. They debated the meaning of what had happened. And now, inevitably, someone's decided to tell the story of what happened that night in a movie format.
Director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have worked together before, most notably in Pirates Of The Caribbean. This week they gathered together with reporters at Bruckheimer's studios for an announcement about a multiple person point of view format telling of the story.
"Thank you for coming," Bruckheimer told an assembly of actual reporters and entertainment reporters. "We had been looking for something to do with our time, and lo and behold, the Oscars gave us our inspiration. We've all been talking ever since about the incident. About Will Smith slapping Chris Rock over a little joke. It shocked a lot of people. It kept us all talking. It took our minds off Covid and Ukraine and the box office numbers and all that important stuff."
Verbinski nodded. "Jerry and I talked about it too. And we came to the conclusion that there's a movie to be told about the Slap."
It was just a matter of time. Hollywood loves to examine itself, after all. Bruckheimer carried on. "But how to tell the tale? We talked that over, and the one thing we kept coming back to was multiple points of view, trying to tell the story of the same incident through several perspectives. Like that movie a few years back, Vantage Point. Now that was about assassination, terrorism, kidnapping, and the whole thing. This is about a slap. But a slap heard around the world."
Verbinski took it from there. "So we're doing the same thing, and going with a working title, Vantage Point: Oscars. Obviously we'll come up with something different once marketing does some work with focus groups."
"And that's what we're doing," Bruckheimer promised. "So we're going to follow several people around as their perspectives show the evening. Chris Rock. Will Smith. Jada Pinkett-Smith. The orchestra conductor. The cameraman. The producers. And the network executives. All examining their actions and reactions leading up to and following the Slap. Obviously we're going to be seeing the Slap in ways that you only really saw from the one camera angle originally, but that's what you can do when you're recreating the scene."
Verbinski carried on. "We're starting to look at casting. For obvious reasons we're not going to get the Smiths and Chris in the same room ever again, so we can't just have them play themselves. So we're going to go with relative unknowns. What's important is that we cast them right. Someone with a good smart aleck personality for Chris. Someone who can play the bipolar angle with Will. And someone who can play the harpy with Jada."
"Obviously Will and Jada aren't going to like this movie," Bruckheimer noted with a shrug.
"That's okay," Verbinski declared. "Chris is going to come out of this looking pretty good. I'm pretty much Team Rock in this whole thing anyway."
"Me too," Bruckheimer added.
"Question," this reporter prompted.
"Yes?" Bruckheimer asked.
"How do you make a two hour movie out of an incident that in real life lasted thirty seconds?"
"Oh, it's going to be a three hour movie," Verbinski corrected.
Bruckheimer nodded. "Yes, that's the sort of movie we make these days, the sort of epic story that keeps you glued to your seat and leaves you wanting more. Yes, I can see your point. But you've just got to trust us. Because it's not just the Slap. It's the set up from all those different points of view, then the Slap- over and over and over again. And then there's the aftermath. And that's pretty much where the film's going to add up the run time. Just trust us, it's gonna be big."
"Aren't you worried about legal action?" another reporter asked.
"Not really. We've run this past our lawyers," Verbinski said. "Nothing we're going to do in the film will constitute slander. Maybe innuendo, but not slander. It's going to be a methodical examination of an infamous incident. Two out of the three primaries involved in that incident won't be happy about it, but frankly... **** 'em."
"It's our job to provoke, to entertain, to poke the bear," Bruckheimer added. "Not a real bear, because doing that's a mistake. That's how my cousin Jim Bob Bruckheimer died. Long story. Which I'm planning on telling in a future film starring Nicolas Cage called Dead Man's Gulch. But that's beside the point. I'm talking about poking the figurative bear. Because once you're out there and famous, at some point you're going to have to accept that people are going to ridicule you."
"Especially if you're in the front row at the Oscars, and especially if the person ridiculing you makes his living as a stand-up comedian," Verbinski stated.
"Our point is that people have been abuzz ever since that happened, and why not make a film about it?" Bruckheimer suggested. "I think there's a lot of demand out there for a Hollywood style treatment of a Hollywood story. And who knows? It would be kind of ironic if it won an Oscar. And whoever actually won the Oscar would give a shout-out to Will Smith for losing his temper and giving all of us something to make a film about."
Verbinski nodded. "Though to be fair, we don't make the sort of films that win Oscars."
And so it's out there. The inevitable bio-pic of a moment in time witnessed by millions of people and debated ever since. A joke, a slap, and a few angry words. All with the side-eye dagger look of an actress that set it all in motion.
In the meantime, Chris Rock continues to have a field day on stage playing around with what happened. Will Smith is still barred from attending the Oscars for the next few years. And Jada Pinkett Smith? She left a cryptic message on Twitter: "Nobody ****s with me and lives!!!!!"