Oscars cut Will Smith jokes 'that went harder,' producer says

Will Smith
(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Jimmy Kimmel decided to keep some Will Smith jokes out of his mouth at the Oscars.

Speaking to Variety, producer Molly McNearney revealed there were jokes about Smith's slap of Chris Rock that were cut from Sunday's show, partially to avoid making "this year all about last year."

"I cannot tell you how many Will Smith jokes we had that then we got rid of," McNearney said. "We think that only the best for that room made it. There were certainly some that went harder, but we didn't think that was our place to do that. That should be Chris Rock, not us. But we really liked the idea of making fun of the reaction to it last year."

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Kimmel joked about the slap multiple times during the Oscars, though he avoided mentioning Smith's name, and in his monologue, he focused more on mocking the Academy's response to the incident.

"If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during the show, you will be awarded the Oscar for Best Actor and permitted to give a 19-minute long speech," he joked, adding that if "anything unpredictable or violent" happens, the audience should "do what you did last year: nothing."

Later, Kimmel joked that he hopes things go "off without a hitch, or at least without Hitch," referring to Smith's 2005 movie.

Prior to the show, Kimmel told The Hollywood Reporter he would talk about the slap because "it would be ridiculous not to mention it," though he didn't "want to make the whole monologue about that." Rock addressed the slap at length in a Netflix comedy special that aired the week before the Oscars.

McNearney also revealed to Variety that Kimmel planned to spend a lot of his monologue joking about how Tom Cruise saved movie theaters with Top Gun: Maverick, only for most of these jokes to be cut when Cruise didn't attend. According to McNearney, Kimmel "was really disappointed he didn't come."

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