Will Smith’s talent agency considered DUMPING the Oscar-winning star from its roster Chris Rock slap

Bosses at Will Smith’s talent agency, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), are divided over what to do with the Oscar-winner following his shocking on-stage slap of presenter Chris Rock at this year’s Academy Awards. 

Smith smacked the comedian in the face after he made a joke about his wife’s hair loss. Jada Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggle with alopecia, a disease which often causes bald spots.

The incident immediately thrust CAA chiefs Bryan Lourd, Richard Lovett and Kevin Huvane, who represent countless A-list stars throughout media and sports, into a quandary: their bankable star was a pariah, despite picking up the industry’s biggest award.

According to an account of the incident’s aftermath in The Daily Beast, a furious debate took place within the agency over whether Smith should be dropped.   

The discussion even spilled over into a leadership retreat last week at the luxury oceanfront Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, which saw about 100 agents and talent executives gathered at the property – the industry’s first large gathering since the pandemic.    

Also impacting the agency’s decision is its prior association with disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein – a negative connection that executives are actively seeking to distance themselves from. 

Lourd reportedly wanted to remove Smith from CAA’s roster. Lovett, meanwhile, wanted to keep Smith on board – though he appeared ‘frazzled’ by the entire episode and subsequent fallout, insiders told the publication.

It appears that Lovett came out on top and that Smith will remain with the agency for now. 

A spokesperson for CAA denied any divisions within the agency’s ranks, telling The Daily Beast: ‘There is no truth to any of it. Simply never happened.’ 

CAA executives, from left to right: Richard Lovett, Kevin Huvane and Bryan Lourd. The trio is reportedly divided on whether Will Smith should stay with the agency after slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars

Bosses at Will Smith's talent agency, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), have spent the last week grappling what to do in the wake of their star actor's violent outburst at the Oscars

Bosses at Will Smith’s talent agency, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), have spent the last week grappling what to do in the wake of their star actor’s violent outburst at the Oscars

It appears that Smith will remain with the agency for now. Pictured, Smith making his Best Actor speech at the Oscars

It appears that Smith will remain with the agency for now. Pictured, Smith making his Best Actor speech at the Oscars

The talent agency can look to history for lessons in how to deal with the fallout following Smith’s on-stage assault.

WME dropped Mel Gibson in 2010 after he was caught on tape saying the N-word during a traffic stop. WME also dumped Brett Ratner and Bryan Singer over sexual-misconduct allegations. 

Megyn Kelly was dumped by CAA after the former Fox News anchor defended the use of blackface while live on her own NBC television show.

Former Fox News star Bill O’Reilly was also dropped from UTA following revelations he had paid $32 million as part of a settlement of one of a number of sexual-harassment claims against him. 

The discussion of what to do with Smith even spilled over into a leadership retreat last week at the luxury oceanfront Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, which saw about 100 agents and talent executives gathered at the property

The discussion of what to do with Smith even spilled over into a leadership retreat last week at the luxury oceanfront Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, which saw about 100 agents and talent executives gathered at the property 

Smith (left) had also been developing Bad Boys 4 for Sony, but a source told THR that the project was also on hold for the time being. Sony was eager to continue the popular franchise co-staring Martin Lawrence (right) earned $204 million in the box office in 2020

Smith (left) had also been developing Bad Boys 4 for Sony, but a source told THR that the project was also on hold for the time being. Sony was eager to continue the popular franchise co-staring Martin Lawrence (right) earned $204 million in the box office in 2020

Agency or not, Smith is facing production backlash over his outburst, with his upcoming Netflix film Fast and Loose and Bad Boys 4 both being put on hold, according to The Hollywood Reporter. 

Fast And Loose was originally to be helmed by Deadpool 2 director David Leitch, but he had withdrawn from the project just a week before the Oscars.

A source told THR that both Netflix and Universal had been competing for a new project from Leitch, but the traditional studio appealed to him more than the streaming platform.

Following the loss, Netflix started urgently searching for a new director to take over on Smith’s project. 

After Smith shocked audiences at home and in Hollywood when he slapped Rock, Netflix opted to put his film on hold, the source told THR.   

Smith had also been developing Bad Boys 4 for Sony, but a source told THR that the project was also on hold for the time being.

The star had already been sent 40 pages of the screenplay as Sony was eager to capitalize on the success of Bad Boys for Life, which grossed $204 million in box offices during 2020. 

Smith still has the Apple TV+ film Emancipation set to be released later this year, which could provide a look into the actor’s popularity and his effect on projects following the Oscar incident. 

Bad Boys for Life was one of the highest grossing films of 2020, earning $425m worldwide

Bad Boys for Life was one of the highest grossing films of 2020, earning $425m worldwide

Over the weekend it was revealed Smith’s biopic was thrown into chaos after Netflix and Apple+ reportedly pulled out of a bidding war.

Insiders said the two streaming giants removed their competitive bids on the film about the Hollywood star’s life, based on his best-selling autobiography Will. 

A source told The Sun: ‘Netflix and Apple+ have quietly removed their bids for a Will Smith biopic and will instead relocate the funds and develop original ideas from new black actors.’

The source added that working with the rapper has now become ‘risky business’ as he faces his upcoming movie projects being put on hold in the wake of the scandal.

Insiders claim Netflix and Apple have removed their competitive bids to the film about the Hollywood star's life, based on his best-selling autobiography Will

Insiders claim Netflix and Apple have removed their competitive bids to the film about the Hollywood star’s life, based on his best-selling autobiography Will 

While many wonder if Smith’s career will tank or if audiences will turn their back on him, Evan Nierman, CEO of crisis PR agency Red Banyan, claimed that Smith is here to stay. 

‘Will Smith is too big to cancel, even after committing assault on live television in front of tens of millions of people,’ Nierman told Newsweek. 

‘Already, he has been given special treatment because of his A-list celebrity status including being allowed to stay at the awards show despite his violent outburst.’

Entertainment lawyer Domenic Romano said Smith just needs to wait until public memory fades and continue to appear sympathetic and regretful in order to enjoy a proper comeback.  

‘A lot will depend on what actions he takes to speak out against violence and whether he sends a clear and consistent message that his response against a poor-taste joke is not acceptable,’ the NYC-based managing partner told Fox News, adding, ‘If he goes out of his way to make amends, he should recover within the next 12 months, if not sooner.’  

Will Smith who won the Best Actor gong for his portrayal of Richard Williams ¿ is unlikely to be invited to announce the Best Actress award next year

Will Smith who won the Best Actor gong for his portrayal of Richard Williams – is unlikely to be invited to announce the Best Actress award next year

Smith – who took exception to Rock’s joke about his wife’s shaved head, a result of alopecia – also announced his resignation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, saying he had ‘betrayed’ its trust.

Now the star, who won this year’s Best Actor award for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father of tennis stars Venus and Serena, in King Richard, is unlikely to be invited to announce the Best Actress award next year – a task performed in recent years by the previous year’s Best Actor.

One Academy member said: ‘Some of the members are saying Will jumped before he was pushed. The executives are still in utter disbelief at what happened.’

Smith won’t be able to vote for the Oscars or attend special Academy events in the future but he will still be eligible for future Oscar nominations. 

‘I am resigning from membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and will accept any further consequences the Board deems appropriate,’ he wrote in a statement.

‘Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason,’ Smith concluded. 

The Academy said it would ‘continue to move forward’ with disciplinary proceedings.

Leave a Comment

Advertise