The wait is almost over. Actor/comedian Chris Rock will reportedly address the slap he received from Will Smith on live TV, on stage in March 2022 at the Oscars ceremony, in a new stand-up comedy special set to air live on the Netflix streaming platform this week.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the suspense ends on Saturday, March 4:
Chris Rock is poised to hit back on his own terms and his own turf: a stand-up comedy special that will stream live on Netflix a week before the Academy Awards.
Since Will Smith clobbered him at last year’s Oscars in front of their Hollywood peers and about 15 million onlookers on U.S. television, Mr. Rock has avoided the forums where celebrities typically go to unburden themselves. No prime-time interview with Oprah. No magazine cover stories. No confiding on Instagram. In short, no milking of the moment.
Mr. Rock is expected to finally go wide with his take on the slap in the Netflix special scheduled for March 4.
Rock and the streaming service “committed” to the special as part of his overall, $40 million deal with Netflix.
Netflix and Mr. Rock committed to doing the live special together in early September, according to people familiar with the situation. The show represents the second of two comedy specials that Mr. Rock committed to for Netflix when he signed with the streamer in 2016. That $40 million deal was the first contract Netflix secured with a top comedian as the company pushed into stand-up programming, a business previously dominated by HBO and other networks.
And as my colleague Duke guessed correctly, in an April 2022 piece, that contract with Netflix was the reason Rock kept things close to the vest:
Rock and his team correctly decided to take a step back and let this issue marinate a bit. Instead of going out the following weekend — he had some comedy shows scheduled in Boston — he has been just working some quick references about what happened into his shows. He is probably negotiating right now for an HBO or a Netflix special to talk about it.
The Journal explained that while Rock hasn’t given his take publicly on the slap, he hasn’t stayed totally silent:
Three nights after the Oscars at a show at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre, he told a rowdy crowd that he was sticking to the routine he had planned, adding, “I’m still kind of processing what happened.”
He got into it more in May when his friend was assaulted during a stand-up set. At the Hollywood Bowl, Mr. Chappelle got tackled by a man armed with a knife. In the aftermath, Mr. Rock emerged on stage and jokingly asked if the attacker was Mr. Smith.
In a first for Netflix, Rock’s stand-up show will air live:
Upping the stakes, it’s the first live show—starting at 10 p.m. Eastern time—that the streamer has ever offered to its 231 million global subscribers. That makes Mr. Rock a test pilot for new technology on the service and a push into event programming by the company that trained us to binge content on our own schedule.
The Journal revealed the meaning behind the title of the show (Selective Outrage):
Netflix will capture Mr. Rock’s set at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore. The title of the live special, “Selective Outrage,” is a phrase he has riffed on in relation to Mr. Smith during recent performances. These shows included bits about the men’s size disparity, his reasons for not retaliating in the moment and what he thinks really triggered the slap.
They also shared the format of the event, which will include famous and not-so-famous comedians in “pre- and post-show programs”:
Typical stand-up specials are produced using footage gathered during multiple performances and edited to feature the best joke deliveries and audience reactions. Mr. Rock’s live special will be more akin to seeing the comic perform on a given night on tour, where his set varies from show to show. He’ll perform before 13 cameras overseen by director Joel Gallen, a veteran of televised concerts, comedy specials and roasts who also directed Mr. Rock’s 2004 HBO special, “Never Scared.”
Netflix is also planning pre- and post-show programs. Starting a half hour before Mr. Rock’s set, there will be a lineup of comics at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, hosted by Ronny Chieng. A wrap-up show hosted by David Spade and Dana Carvey (with guests including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) will follow Mr. Rock’s set. Though his special will be available on Netflix after the live event ends, the pre- and post-show programs will not.
I doubt I’m the only person eagar to hear Rock’s side of the story, but that’s just part of the draw. Chris Rock might be the funniest cast member to emerge from “Saturday Night Live,” after the late Norm Macdonald. It’s also cool to be able to catch some commentary from his fellow “SNL” alumni, Spade and Carvey. Can’t wait!
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