Comedian Chris Rock could host next year’s Oscars in a triumphant return after being punched in the face by best actor winner Will Smith.
ABC President Craig Erwich told Deadline he was open to bringing in Rock as emcee.
He promised that next year’s show, scheduled for March 12, 2023, will be “even better” than the previous one.
Will Smith was banned from attending the ceremony for 10 years after he assaulted Rock at the March awards show for playing a bald joke at the expense of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith.
Smith, who resigned from the Academy, won the Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams.
Some praised Smith’s defense of his wife, while others insisted he be stripped of his award. He was not.
Chris Rock could be leading the 2023 Oscars, says ABC President Craig Erwich
Chris Rock toured the world on his Ego Death Tour and on Thursday at London’s Royal Albert Hall he discussed Will Smith, abortion, his love life and Meghan Markle
The network president said he regretted the violence of the evening this year, but said otherwise it was a successful show.
“My assessment of the Oscars was that it was truly a successful year for the show. Obviously there was a lot of controversy, which overshadowed many of the positive aspects of the show, but I was really happy with the program,’ he told the trade publication.
“Even before that very unfortunate moment, the show started year after year, and we came back strong.”
Erwich glossed over the fact that the slapping controversy was one of the main talking points on the show.
“It was the biggest bounce of any awards show this season,” he told Deadline. “If you look at what they were trying to do, which is really bring the entertainment back to the program, they had three amazing hosts, amazing music videos and performances, I thought that was a great fit for the show to resume its place on the mantle.
Inviting Rock to host the awards show could be seen as a fix for the lack of action during the show.
Comedians and actors across the country were outraged that Smith was allowed to stay at the show, receive his award, and give a speech about it.
In early May, months after the show, a man who took offense to David Chapelle’s comments about the trans community attacked the comedian during his show at the Hollywood Bowl.
Comedians like Howard Stern have criticized the Academy for allowing Smith to stay at the ceremony, saying it sends the message that attacking a comedian on stage is okay.
“People are getting crazier and crazier and they’re going to take advantage of these opportunities to attack people,” he said. “Now here’s what I want to say about this and how fucked up Hollywood is.” Some people in the Oscar audience should still be very ashamed of themselves. I hope they are.
ABC President Craig Erwich says he’s open to comedian Chris Rock hosting the 2023 Oscars
Rock has staunchly refused to talk about the incident, only making passing references to it while touring the world for his currently ongoing Ego Death comedy tour.
“People expect me to talk about bulls**t, I’m not going to talk about them now,” he recently told a crowd at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
At the same event, he hinted that he wouldn’t discuss it until he was “paid,” which he said would eventually happen “on Netflix.”
Smith, on the other hand, has issued a public apology and is apparently going to therapy because of the assault.
He resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences before being banned, saying: “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 the global audience at home.’