Chris Rock is on top of this whole Oscars controversy thing. Displaying the kind of adaptability and skill that have led the Academy to hold emergency meetings to figure out how to allow black people to do more than just host, Rock has completely revised the show he was planning to do for the Oscars ceremony this year. Instead, the comedian is rewriting it to address the current outcry over the lack of any black nominees in the acting categories, symbolized by the #OscarsSoWhite social-media campaign.
In an interview with ET Online, Academy Awards producer Reginald Hudlin revealed Rock is devising a new monologue for the show. “Chris is hard at work. He and his writing staff locked themselves in a room. As things got a little provocative and exciting, he said, ‘I‘m throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show.’” Since the Academy is presumably not following suit by throwing out all its members and creating a new voting body, the organization is counting on Rock to do all the heavy lifting. “You should expect [#OscarsSoWhite jokes],” Hudlin continued. “And, yes, the Academy is ready for him to do that. They’re excited about him doing that. They know that’s what we need. They know that’s what the public wants, and we deliver what the people want.” (After public outcry and lots of bad press, anyway.)
“I have 1000 percent confidence that he will deliver something that people will be talking about for weeks,” Hudlin added, perhaps hoping to steer attention away from the fact that people have been talking about the Oscar nominations for weeks. “Jokes now, change gradually and incrementally” seems to be the attitude for the time being, both from the Academy head and folks like Spike Lee, who knows a little something about how tough it is to change Hollywood. In the meantime, Chris Rock will hopefully deliver a monologue full of pointed barbs, and everyone in the room can laugh, knowing he’s probably only partially talking about them personally.
UPDATE: Leslie Sloane, Chris Rock’s publicist, has just responded to Academy Awards producer Reginald Hudlin’s comments to ET Online. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Sloane said Rock “has made no decisions about the content of the show. All will be revealed on February 28th. We will not comment further on this.”