By Becca Grace Winthrop, MMW Hollywood correspondent
LOS ANGELES—The entertainment world was set on its ear Sunday night when during the 94th Academy Awards actor Will Smith appeared to slap comedian Chris Rock after the latter made a tasteless joke about Smith’s wife.
This reporter immediately went to the Vanity Fair after party and was stunned to find nobody in attendance could recall the incident.
“Of course I know what you want to talk about,” nominee Jessie Plemons said. “Yes, what Will Smith did was…courageous. His acceptance speech was heartfelt and the award for Best Actor was long overdue. That’s what this night will be remembered for.”
When I asked about the incident with Rock, Plemons narrowed his eyes and shook his head.
“No, Chris Rock wasn’t the host this year. You’re think of several years ago,” Plemons said.
Jessica Chastain, still clutching her Oscar for Best Actress, had a similar reaction.
“It was so shocking! I mean, a deaf man had never won an Academy Award before,” she said. “When [Best Supporting Actor winner] Troy [Kotsur] signed ‘this is our moment’ I just…” her voice trailed into tears as she walked away.
I then caught Wanda Sykes, one of the hosts, for her reaction to the slap.
“Chris Rock? No, no, no, he ain’t shown his face in this town since he filmed ‘Grown Ups’,” she said.
A half-hour and many unsuccessful interviews later, I spotted Rock, holding a pack of ice on his face.
“My face feels like a [expletive deleted] has sex with a [expletive deleted] and then tried to pay for it with BitCoin,” Rock said. “But I don’t know why, though.”
I told him exactly why his face hurt but he refused to acknowledge what I’d said.
“Will Smith? That [expletive deleted] finally got his [expletive deleted] Oscar. Maybe now he can sit with Denzel at the VIP section of the Over The Hill club,” Rock said, wincing.
“That reminds me of a new joke I just thought of. You remember that ‘G.I. Jane’ movie…”
I left before he could finish.
Was I going mad? Did they all band together and decide to act like it didn’t happen? Was I going crazy? Did I really see what I thought I saw?
Just then, I saw the man at the center of the controversy. Smith had changed into an all-black suit and was wearing sunglasses, even though we were inside. Maybe he was trying to disguise himself.
I worked up the courage to approach and blurted out, “Why’d you do it?”
And then Smith pulled a silver tube out of his pocket and I saw a bright flash, and then I asked him about…winning an Oscar, I guess. It seemed like there something more important but I guess not.
“Why’d I do it? I assume you mean cry during my speech because I’m Will Smith and that’s the craziest thing I’d ever do on national television, am I right?” he said. “But how about ‘CODA’? That was such a great moment.”
We both smiled and he started to walk away but I asked, “Hey. Why did you say you hoped the Academy would invite you back?”
Smith shrugged his shoulders. “You know, just don’t want to be presumptuous.”
That’s my report from the Oscars. It was so nice that everything was back to normal this year.