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Los Angeles: Amid an outcry against a field of Oscar-nominated performers lacking a single person of color for a second straight year, comedian Chris Rock will not be stepping away from the high-profile hosting gig, the show's producer Reginald Hudlin said on Saturday, telling Entertainment Tonight the comedian has scrapped his material.
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Actor Will Smith confirms he won't be attending the Academy Awards and addresses his investment in the #OscarsSoWhite campaign.
"As things got a little provocative and exciting, he said, 'I'm throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show,'" Hudlin remarked.
"You should expect [#OscarsSoWhite jokes]," Hudlin said, adding "And, yes, the Academy is ready for him to do that."
Actor Don Cheadle, whose now-infamous Oscars tweet to Chris Rock regarding the all-white acting nominations from the Academy went viral, said Rock is in prime position for his upcoming Oscars hosting gig.
"He's going to crush it. Chris Rock? This is his sweet spot. This is what he does. He's smart, he's loud, he's skewering and he's judicious about who gets it. Everybody will get it," Cheadle said.
"I hope he comes up there and skewers everybody," the actor/director said. "The people acting like there's nothing wrong with it, the people that are calling it 'reverse racism,' the people that are nominated, the people that aren't nominated. Everybody should get barbecued over this one, to me. Because there's equal parts of it to go around."
The largely white, male and older makeup of the 6,000-plus film industry professionals who belong to the academy has long been cited as a barrier to racial and gender equality at the Oscars.
"It's unprecedented for the academy to make this kind of drastic overhaul," said Tom O'Neil, editor of the awards-tracking website Gold Derby. "It's a very dramatic announcement and a very welcome breakthrough."
The changes, unanimously approved on Thursday night by the academy's governing board, include a program to "identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity," and to strip some older members of voting privileges.
Under the new rules, lifetime voting rights would be conferred only on those academy members who remain active in the film industry over the course of three 10-year terms or who have won or been nominated for an Oscar.
Actor Will Smith, director Spike Lee and a handful of others vow to skip the Feb. 28 awards. They gave no indication that they plan to call off their Oscar boycott.
None of the measures will affect voting for this year's Oscars - a contest whose dearth of racial diversity led to the revival of the trending Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite that emerged in 2015.
April Reign, an African-American activist who started the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag a year ago, welcomed the changes but was still calling on viewers to boycott the Oscars.
"The academy can only nominate films that are made, and so the onus has to be put on Hollywood studio heads to make more films that represent the beauty and diversity and the nuance of all of America," Reign said in a phone interview.
Reuters, USA Today