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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Jamie Roberts & Scarlett O'Toole & Mia O'Hare

Inside this year's Oscars - crisis team, controversial presenters removed and slap jokes

The Oscars isn't short of controversial moments, so it may not come as a surprise precautions have been put in place for this year's event.

The infamous Will Smith slap in 2022 that made headlines around the world, is now set to become the "elephant in the room" at the 95th Academy Awards, claims a PR expert.

A leading celebrity publicity expert told The Mirror, organisers "want to avoid controversy" by having a crisis team on standby but describes it as "overkill".

'PR to the stars' Mayah Riaz told the Mirror: "The organisers of the Academy Awards clearly want to avoid controversy as they don’t want that to be what we all talk about.

"But for years The Oscars have been dogged by controversy whether it’s gender rows or race rows.

The infamous slap onstage during the 94th Oscars (AFP via Getty Images)

"This year a row’s already begun regarding calls for the Hong Kong actor Donnie Yen to be removed as an Oscars presenter, due to his support for the Chinese government."

She added: "It is a total overkill that this crisis team has been put together. You will never have the same two controversies happen.

"How they deal with each one will totally different from the last one. You can’t stop a controversy from happening.

"Quite frankly we want controversy from The Oscars, otherwise it’s quite a long night one! When something goes wrong, what’s the crisis team going to do?

"They’ll sit in a huddle talking about what to do. It’s live, it’s already gone wrong - in fact we hope it does go wrong."

Last year's event was overshadowed by the altercation between best actor winner Will Smith and host Chris Rock, following a joke the comedian made about Smith's wife Jada Pinkett Smith.

Bradley Cooper comforts Will Smith during the show at the 94th Academy Awards (Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The incident has still not been resolved a year later, as Rock's recent Netflix special rehashed jokes about the star couple , leaving Will Smith "embarrassed and hurt". Smith was also hit with a ten year ban from the event.

Mayah Riaz says there could be a mention of the slap at this year's event but not the Netflix show.

She said: "I think there could possibly be a mention of the slap at this year’s ceremony. It was such a jaw-dropping moment, and everyone will have it on their mind as it was only last year.

"If it does get mentioned, it’ll make headlines and that will be the main reason as to why someone would mention it.

"Will Smith and The slap will be the elephant in the room. It is tradition that the reigning Best Actor winner is invited to present Best Actress.

"Obviously with Will Smith being banned, it’s not going to be him. It’s not announced who will be presenting Best Actress. But during this slot would be the perfect opportunity at which to mention it.

Celebrity publicity expert gives her verdict on this year's Oscars (Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

"As shocking as the revelation and the jokes at Jada Pickett Smith was within Chris Rock’s Comedy Special, I don’t think the show will be mentioned. The slap alone was shocking enough to get mentioned."

Turning attention to the big winners of the night, PR expert Mayah doesn't think this year's event is as predictable as others.

She said: "I think we’ll be talking about Everything Everywhere All At Once. Which as the title says is everywhere all at once. It’s gaining momentum.

"It’ll be a crazy film to win Best Picture. It’s an unlikely contender to do so but unlikely Oscar contenders have done well at The Oscars.

"No one thought Nomadland, Parasite and CODA would win. Everything Everywhere All At Once is on that path to be the unpredictable Oscar winner. And I think it might win big, possibly 3 or 4 awards.

"I hope Top Gun Maverick swoops in and wins the Best Picture. It’ll be unlikely an action film to win Best Picture, for a movie that is a sequel to one which came out in 1986. For me Top Gun Maverick is the film of the year."

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