Chris Rock Is Totally "Gonna Go There" in Oscars Monologue, Says Academy President

Cheryl Boone Isaacs doesn't think the award show host will gloss over Hollywood's diversity problem or the controversy over this year's all-white acting nominees

By Rebecca Macatee Jan 27, 2016 7:33 PMTags
Chris Rock, Cheryl Boone IsaacsJason LaVeris/FilmMagic; ABC/Andrew Eccles

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs isn't worried about if Chris Rock will address the controversy surrounding the 2016 Oscars and Hollywood's lack of diversity.

She seems to be expecting him to poke some fun at the industry—and yes, probably even at the prestigious institution she leads. As Boone Isaacs told the Hollywood Reporter in a joint interview with Academy CEO Dawn Hudson, "Well, we've always known he was gonna go there, right? This is Chris."

"We know who he is," she continued. "He is a brilliant, brilliant, observant comedian and performer, and he is a brilliant host. And yes, we want him to, obviously, because way before this, our selection of Chris was to bring some edge and some fun and some funny—intelligent funny—to the telecast. So we know he's going to do that." 

It's good the Academy is ready to roll with the punches, but Rock isn't giving any hints on his opening just yet. On Monday, a rep for the comedian told E! News that he did not rewrite his monologue to call out the current situation, despite what producer Reggie Hudlin said over the weekend. "Regarding Reggie Hudlin's comments about Chris Rock's Oscar hosting duties, neither he nor anyone else speaks for Chris,"  said Leslie Sloane, Rock's rep. "All will be revealed on February 28th We will not comment further on this."

Not everyone will see Rock's on stage response to the controversy next month, though—a growing number of stars have boycotted this year's show over its lack of diversity. Rock himself received some pressure to bow out of his hosting gig, but did he actually consider pulling out of the show? "No. No, no," Boone Isaacs told THR.

As for Will Smith, who joined wife Jada Pinkett Smith's boycott against the Oscars due to its lack of inclusion? If he should change his mind and want to come, the Academy would welcome him "with open arms," said Boone Isaacs.

The Hollywood Reporter

"Absolutely. Will is absolutely great, and he is a major star in the world," she went on. "People love Will. So of course we would love to have him come this year, next year, any year, all years."

Pinkett Smith released a statement last week thanking the Academy, specifically Boone Isaacs, "for such a quick response in regard to the issue at hand." The actress noted that she "look(s) forward to the future," and as Boone Isaacs and Hudson told THR, they're also looking forward to seeing changes in the industry.

On Friday, the Board released a statement saying they voted in support of measures that would significantly diversify their current membership. Lifetime voting rights were reframed and limited to only those who have been active in the film industry within the last 10 years and three new governor seats were also added, which will be elected by the president. Per a release from the Academy, these measures were taken with the goal of doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.

Diversifying its membership "has been an initiative of the Academy for about three or four years of more inclusion in all aspects of what we do," Boone Isaacs told THR. "And we have brought in more diverse members. Certainly last year the biggest [group of] invitees that we've ever had and the most diverse we have ever had. So this has been something that has been the heart of this organization, including the board, for a number of years."

"We're very happy about the fact that this conversation is continuing and has spread," she told THR. "And we're very happy that our Academy is at the forefront, which we should be, on this question of inclusion."

Boone Isaacs and Hudson's full interview can be found in the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter, on stands Feb. 4.

Watch: Why Oscars Producer David Hill Is Disappointed By Noms