Chris Rock’s publicist is disputing claims that the actor threw out the monologue he had prepared before the Academy Awards began facing fierce backlash for the lack of diversity in its nominees this year.
A producer for the 88th annual Academy Awards said Rock saw the controversy as an opening to pen a new script in a recent interview. Later on Monday, Rock’s publicist says the producer, Reginald Hudlin, does not speak for the comedian.
“Chris has made no decisions about the content of the show. All will be revealed on February 28th. We will not comment further on this,” Rock’s publicist Leslie Sloane told the Hollywood Reporter.
Hudlin told Entertainment Tonight that Rock “and his writing staff locked themselves in a room. As things got a little provocative and exciting, he said, ‘I’m throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show,'” the producer said.
Hudlin said viewers should be prepared for jokes about the mostly white nominees and that, in fact, the Academy is looking forward to the prodding. “They know that’s what we need. They know that’s what the public wants, and we deliver what the people want,” he said.
This year’s nomination process spawned not just praise for the actors, but a hashtag—#Oscarssowhite— that’s gained so much traction the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced last week that it will be revamping its membership to get a more diverse set of members by 2020. A few actors, including Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and director Spike Lee have said they will boycott the show.