Chris Rock to finally have his say in new stand-up special

Streaming HUBMarch 4, 2023

A year after Will Smith slapped him on the Academy Awards stage, Chris Rock is finally ready to have his say.

The 58-year-old comedian will perform his first stand-up special since last year’s Oscars on Saturday night. He’s doing it in “Chris Rock: Selective Outrage,” streaming live on Netflix at 10 p.m. EST. Not only will Rock present nearly an hour of stand-up from the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore, but Netflix — in its first live show — will book the special with star-studded commentary.

The pre-show starting at 9:30 p.m. will feature Paul McCartney, Jerry Seinfeld, Matthew McConaughey, Cedric the Entertainer, Ice-T and two hosts from last year’s Oscars: Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer. Afterward Rock’s set, Dana Carvey and David Spade will host guests including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Arsenio Hall and JB Smoove.

While Smith has apologized and has spoken repeatedly about the incident since last March, Rock has avoided the all-too-common platforms where celebrities often go to express their feelings. He never sat down with Oprah Winfrey, and turned away many media outlets who would love to grant an exclusive in-depth interview.

Instead, Rock has been touring the new material over the past year in a long string of performances as part of his Ego Death Tour. The show, which was announced ahead of the 2022 Oscars, stars Dave Chappelle and Kevin Hart.

On the road, Rock has often employed slapstick in-jokes and reflections, though it has never been more than an element of his show. There’s no guarantee he’ll speak about it on Saturday night, but he is widely expected to and has long suggested it will be his chosen platform.

The Rock first broke his public silence about the slap three nights after last year’s Oscar ceremony in Boston. “how was your weekend?” he asked the crowd. He added that he was “still kind of processing what happened.”

Now, after a lot of processing, The Rock will make cultural headlines just a week before the March 12 Oscars, where this year’s host Jimmy Kimmel is sure to see the slapped again. Following the events of the previous year, Smith resigned from the membership of the Film Academy. The Academy Board of Governors banned Smith from the Oscars and all other Academy events for a decade.

At the annual luncheon held for the nominees last month, Motion Picture Academy President Janet Yang expressed regret over the incident, calling the Academy’s response “inadequate”. Academy chief executive Bill Kramer has stated that the Academy has since established a crisis communications team to prepare for the unexpected and respond more quickly.

“Selective Outrage” is Rock’s second special for Netflix, following 2018’s “Tamborine.” They are part of a $40 million exclusive deal the two signed with the streamer in 2016.

While rivals have ventured into live streaming and sports, “Selective Outrage” is Netflix’s first foray into live programming. Netflix, with 231 million global subscribers, recently signed on to stream next year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, indicating that “selective outrage” may be the start of a new trend.


Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter:

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