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Will Smith resigns from Academy over Chris Rock slap backlash

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Will Smith, facing possible expulsion or suspension after he assaulted Chris Rock during last Sunday’s Oscars telecast, has instead resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. The move comes as the actor is embroiled in the gravest crisis of his career and as the organization behind the Academy Awards has struggled in its attempts to deal with the fallout from the altercation. In a statement, Smith called his actions “shocking, painful and inexcusable” and said that he will accept any additional consequences that the Academy’s Board of Governors deems appropriate.

“The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home,” Smith said. “I betrayed the trust of the Academy. I deprived other nominees and winners of their opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated for their extraordinary work. I am heartbroken.”

Smith also acknowledged that his actions overshadowed other winners at the 94th Academy Awards. “I want to put the focus back on those who deserve attention for their achievements and allow the Academy to get back to the incredible work it does to support creativity and artistry in film,” he stated, concluding with “change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.”

Academy president David Rubin replied to his resignation, saying in a statement, “We have received and accepted Mr. Will Smith’s immediate resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. We will continue to move forward with our disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the Academy’s Standards of Conduct, in advance of our next scheduled board meeting on April 18.”

During the ceremony, Smith charged the stage and struck Rock during the broadcast after Rock made a joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, likening her shaved head to the buzzcut sported by Demi Moore in “G.I. Jane.” Pinkett Smith suffers from hair loss due to alopecia.

The Academy later said it asked Smith to leave the ceremony and he refused. However, sources tell Variety that the organization’s leaders never formally requested he be ejected and producer Will Packer urged him to stay. During an appearance on GMA on Friday, Packer said that he said Smith should stay at the request of Rock — something Rock’s camp has denied.

It’s a very tangled narrative about what exactly went down behind the scenes. What is certain is that Smith ended up remaining at the Dolby Theatre, where he went on to win best actor for his performance in “King Richard.” In an emotional speech, Smith seemed to try to justify his actions by saying that his outburst was the result of the same protective instincts that led his character in the film, Richard Williams, to push his daughters, Venus and Serena Williams, to succeed in the world of tennis. His speech, initial failure to apologize to Rock and his decision to attend the Vanity Fair party following the awards did not sit well with some members of the Academy.

On Monday, Smith finally apologized to Rock, saying, “I was out of line and I was wrong.” He added that he reacted emotionally because “a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear.”

After initially offering up a statement that said it did not condone violence, the Academy followed up with two subsequent statements that more forcefully criticized Smith. On Wednesday, the group said Smith had violated the Academy’s standards of conduct and that he had 15 days to provide a written response explaining his actions. The organization said Smith faced suspension, expulsion or other sanctions.

MOVIES

I’ve seen ‘Spawn’ movie concept suits – Jamie Foxx

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A Spawn reboot may finally see the light of day, with actor Jamie Foxx saying that he has seen concept suits for the comic book character. He was asked in an interview if he has seen a costume for the film, leading to a surprising answer. “I’ve seen a lot of concepts,” he reveals. “Because Todd, what he does it, every single day he’s doodling and he’s fixing and he’s doing some things that, to me, I think is gonna be like way out when you see it. And how he crafts that cape and how that cape becomes almost like – I’ll say this – as big as the screen that you’re watching.”

A live-action Spawn reboot seems to have been talked about for decades since a sequel to the 1997 release was cancelled. Creator Todd McFarlane has teased the film on multiple occasions throughout the years, with actor Jamie Foxx recently sharing news that may mean the film is much closer to a release than anticipated.

MacFarlane has said he wants the reboot to be rated R, which would be reminiscent of the 2019 R-rated release ‘Joker’, which went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time.

Foxx thinks those working on the film are ready for their turn. “But it starts in a way that is so cool. And it’s not big budget, you know? And that’s what I love about it. It’s sort of like how when they did the Joker. And so, we’re just like, just getting this right, cooking it right, but staying in contact, keeping the energy going and when we lay it on you, there’s gonna be some moments where you go ‘oh man’.”

More developments are expected at New York Comic-Con in October. Regarding an announcement, McFarlane told CBR at San Diego Comic-Con 2022, “We were debating whether to make a big announcement because we’ve been adding pieces to it here at San Diego. So all the parties that were involved, we had the conversation: ‘Do we make the announcement here or do we wait and keep our gunpowder dry until New York Comic Con?’ And we eventually said we’ll do it at New York.”

Fingers crossed!

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‘WandaVision’ director in talks to direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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Marvel Studios appears to be one step closer to finalizing plans for the highly anticipated “Fantastic Four” reboot, with news that “WandaVision” helmer Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the project, Variety has confirmed.

At the San Diego Comic-Con in July, Marvel boss Kevin Feige teased the movie, which is currently slated to debut on Nov. 8, 2024, revealing that “Fantastic Four” would kick off Phase 6 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Jon Watts, who helmed all three of Sony and Marvel’s “Spider-Man” films, had previously been announced as the “Fantastic Four” director, but exited the project in April. Rumors that Shakman had been tapped to take the job hit the internet earlier this week, with the choice heralded by fans given the director’s successful piloting of the Disney+ series.

For his work on “WandaVision,” Shakman landed an Emmy nomination for outstanding directing for a limited or anthology series or movie, as well as a nod in the outstanding limited or anthology series category as an executive producer on the series. Shakman is also an Emmy nominee for his directing work on Hulu’s “The Great.”

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DC’s troubles continue as ‘Aquaman 2’ and ‘Shazam! 2’ shift dates

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Surprising only a few, ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ and ‘Shazam!: Fury of the Gods will land in theaters later than planned. Per a Variety report, Warner Bros. announced a slew of release date changes on Wednesday, pushing the ‘Aquaman’ follow-up from March 17, 2023 to Dec. 25, 2023.

The ‘Shazam!’ sequel will open on the date previously occupied by Jason Momoa’s undersea hero. The story about Zachary Levi’s Billy Batson was originally set for Dec. 21, 2022. This means ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’ will debut a few days after Disney’s ‘Star Wars’ spinoff ‘Rogue Squadron’ (Dec. 23, 2023).

Meanwhile, ‘Shazam!: Fury of the Gods’, initially set to face off against James Cameron’s ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’, is now top dog over its new opening weekend.

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