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Academy Says Will Smith Refused To Leave Oscars, Disciplinary Action Launched

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has initiated disciplinary proceedings against actor Will Smith for slapping presenter Chris Rock at the Oscars ceremony.

The board of governors met on Wednesday to begin action against Smith for violating the organisation's standards of conduct.

Discipline for Smith could include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions, the academy said.

Many have focused on why Smith was allowed to remain seated front row at the Academy Awards after the incident.

The academy on Wednesday suggested that it attempted to remove the actor from the audience.

"Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated," the academy said.

"While we would like to clarify that Mr Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognise we could have handled the situation differently."

A representative for the academy declined to give specifics on how it tried to removed Smith.

After Smith struck Rock in response to a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, several stars including Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper and Tyler Perry spoke with the 53-year-old Smith.

The academy said Smith had the opportunity to defend himself in a written response before the board met again on April 18.

The film academy earlier condemned Smith's onstage assault of Rock, but it used stronger language on Wednesday.

"Mr Smith's actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in person and on television," the academy said.

"Mr Rock, we apologise to you for what you experienced on our stage and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologise to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event."

A representative for Smith didn't immediately respond to messages.

Smith on Monday apologised to Rock, the academy and to viewers, saying: "I was out of line and I was wrong."

Only a small number of academy members have been expelled, including Harvey Weinstein, Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby.

Whoopi Goldberg, a member of the academy's board of governors, said on Monday on TV program The View that "we're not going to take that Oscar from him", but added that "nobody is OK with what happened".

Rock, who's yet to respond publicly to the incident, was to perform stand-up on Wednesday night in Boston.