Today’s Headlines: Will Smith takes swing at Chris Rock and wins best actor

Two men in tuxes stand onstage. One follows through on a slap; the other winces.
Will Smith slaps Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood.
(Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times)

By Elvia Limón and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Monday, March 28, and if you watched the Oscars and are still feeling a bit off-kilter, you’re likely not alone. After the Will Smith-Chris Rock incident, the first reactions that flashed in The Times’ Slack channel among those covering the awards went like this: “Omgomg” and “Wowwwww.”

Here’s that story and others that you shouldn’t miss today.


Will Smith’s swing at Chris Rock sends the Oscars off the rails


Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Academy Awards after the comedian made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith while presenting the award for documentary feature. The “King Richard” star unexpectedly rushed the stage and struck Rock after the comic made a quip about Smith’s wife and the 1997 film “G.I. Jane” — apparently a reference to Pinkett Smith’s bald hairstyle. Pinkett Smith — who has been open about her struggles with hair loss due to a condition called alopecia — did not laugh at Rock’s remark.

What unfolded between Rock and Smith reportedly was not planned and did not happen in rehearsals the day prior. Smith subsequently was named best actor for “King Richard,” and while accepting the award apologized to the academy and to his “fellow nominees.”

Will Smith slaps Chris Rock onstage during the 2022 Academy Awards in Los Angeles.
(Myung Chun / Los Angeles Times)

More on the Oscars

  • Who won an award? Here’s the complete list of 2022 Oscar winners.
  • With a sweep of her “West Side Story” character’s skirt, Ariana DeBose has swept into history as the first openly queer woman of color to win an Oscar in an acting category
  • “CODA” star Troy Kotsur made history as the first Deaf man to win an Academy Award for acting
  • Here are some of the gorgeous gowns, terrific tuxedos and fantastic fits at the Oscars that left tongues wagging, eyeballs popping and the internet exploding.

Russia, facing stiff resistance, may try to split Ukraine into two


As fighting raged across Ukraine and one of the country’s top military leaders warned that Russian forces might seek to split the nation in two, U.S. officials scrambled to clarify President Biden’s off-the-cuff condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin a day earlier, saying regime change in Moscow is not on Washington’s agenda.

Biden’s dramatic declaration — “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” a reference to Putin — has prompted efforts to walk back what appeared to be a White House endorsement of pushing the Russian leader out of office.

Biden’s remarks in Warsaw at the finale of a rousing, pro-Ukrainian speech prompted an outpouring of criticism at a moment when some feared the Russian invasion could escalate into a larger, even more catastrophic conflict.

More on Ukraine

  • Putin’s ambitions and his ruthless style of achieving them can be traced at least in part to a handful of conservative Russian thinkers who, like him, came to prominence in a post-Soviet nation struggling to find its identity.
  • The U.S. and its allies need to think about long-term security guarantees for Ukraine. They’ll be needed in any deal, writes Times columnist Doyle McManus.
  • Kharkiv, home to nearly 1.5 million people before the war, has suffered the most relentless Russian bombardment of any Ukrainian city other than the battered southern port of Mariupol.
  • A number of Russian public figures have condemned the invasion of Ukraine and left their posts at state-run institutions and companies. But there are no indications these have reached Putin’s inner circle.

Only 30% of L.A. County kids are vaccinated

In Los Angeles County, some parents jumped at the chance to get kids vaccinated against the coronavirus. But new immunizations for kids fell after an initial rush.


Only 30% of children ages 5 to 11 were fully vaccinated in L.A. County as of mid-March, compared with nearly 80% of teens and adults. The numbers stagnated across the country even after children were newly hospitalized with COVID-19 at record rates during the Omicron wave, according to federal data.

More than a third of parents surveyed nationally by the Kaiser Family Foundation said they would definitely not get their children ages 5 to 11 vaccinated. A shrinking share of parents, over time, have said they plan to do so “right away.” Others said they would “wait and see.”

More top coronavirus headlines

  • California has sent millions of at-home COVID-19 tests to schools in preparation for the return of students from spring break.
  • The Times’ Marissa Evans writes that her father began 2022 eating apple pie and feeling like it would be their family’s year. He died of COVID-19 before the end of January.
  • Los Angeles County Superior Court will end its mask mandate for courthouses beginning April 4.
  • With unvaccinated refugees from Ukraine pouring into other countries, health officials hope to avert outbreaks of COVID-19 and other diseases.

Stay up to date on variant developments, case counts and vaccine news with Coronavirus Today.

Vice President Kamala Harris is keeping a tighter circle

Since taking office, the roster of confidants Vice President Kamala Harris relies on for advice and support has contracted and tilted away from her longtime home base of California. The narrowing of her inner circle reflects both the demands of the vice presidency and her own tendency to be selective in whom she seeks counsel, according to interviews with longtime friends, advisors and current and former staffers.


The change has left close friends saying they are satisfied and pleasantly surprised by her efforts to stay in touch. Yet some of her earliest backers warn that her outreach has been insufficient to maintain a loyal base of support and could hamper her ability to make another run at the presidency. They also worry that Harris lacks a full stable of trusted and tested allies to guide her.

Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting and the latest action in Sacramento.

Who should receive reparations in California for slavery? Answers raise more questions

State law directs California’s Reparations Task Force to prioritize those who trace their lineage to African Americans enslaved in the United States. Public attention also has focused on whether all Black people deserve some form of restitution for the lingering effects of slavery in a society that continues to discriminate based on skin color today.

But eligibility based on lineage may be difficult and costly for some to prove. Names changed. Families were broken apart and trafficked across state lines. And details died with prior generations.

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They were groomed and groped, but an O.C. school “turned a blind eye” for decades, a lawsuit alleges. The complaints about the drama teacher’s husband and his behavior with female students at Mission Viejo High School spanned more than two decades. A generation of these complaints has now culminated in a lawsuit by two former students who first reported his behavior in 2001.

Fearing bad publicity, LASD covered up a case of a deputy who knelt on an inmate’s head. Department officials were worried about the optics of the kneeling, “given its nature and its similarities to widely publicized George Floyd use of force,” a commander who was critical of the coverup wrote in an internal force review.

He had to leave Echo Park Lake and he’s still homeless. Is this what L.A. wants? Only a few of the homeless people living at the encampment ended up in permanent housing, a new report says. Yet similar cleanups continue. Blame public opinion, writes The Times’ Erika D. Smith.


“A bet on downtown Los Angeles.” Huge Angels Landing project wins key city OK. Angels Landing, a $1.6-billion hotel, housing and retail complex that will change the city skyline, aims to open by the 2028 Olympics, the developers said.

An approaching storm is expected to bring rain, snow and hail to Southern California. Coastal and inland cities are estimated to receive 1 to 2 inches of rain, with the mountains getting up to 4 inches, including as much as 3 inches of snow above 6,000 feet. A winter storm warning was issued for Los Angeles and Ventura counties through 6 a.m. Tuesday.

A wellness center has opened on L.A.’s skid row that will provide mental health care services. Homeless advocates and elected officials say the services are desperately needed for people struggling with addiction and mental illness — and who have little or no access to the treatment that might get them off the street.


An inmate was killed in an attack at high-security California prison. Despite lifesaving measures, authorities said, Nathan Marcus, 33, was pronounced dead. The high-security prison, near Folsom, houses more than 1,750 inmates.

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Biden’s budget seeks a minimum tax on households worth over $100 million. The introduction of the minimum tax on the wealthiest Americans would represent a significant reorienting of the tax code. It would apply to the top 0.01% of households, with half of the expected revenue coming from those worth $1 billion or more.

El Salvador has declared a state of emergency amid a rash of killings. Fourteen people were killed Friday and 62 died Saturday, a scale of violence that has not been seen for years. By comparison, there were 79 homicides in the entire month of February.

An EU envoy is in Tehran amid hopes to restore a nuclear agreement. The meetings between the EU’s envoy, Enrique Mora, and top Iranian officials come at a sensitive moment for talks to revive the deal, as the glimmers of a resolution to some of the thorniest issues in the negotiations have emerged.


Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins had multiple drugs in his system when he died. An initial forensic medical examination and urine toxicology report of the musician’s body revealed 10 substances in his system, including THC (marijuana), tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines and opioids.


Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum and “The Lost City” take down “The Batman.” The action-adventure comedy throwback earned $31 million in its debut in U.S. and Canadian theaters over the weekend.

Olivia Rodrigo’s documentary takes us on a California road trip. See where she goes. Early in the concert film, which documents the making of Rodrigo’s debut studio album, “Sour,” the teen pop sensation explains why she’s chosen to shoot the project at various locations in Utah, Arizona and California.


Southern California grocery workers authorized a strike amid contract negotiations. Workers are seeking substantial wage bumps, higher minimum hours for part-timers and store-level health and safety committees as pandemic concerns persist.


U.S. men’s soccer is on the brink of qualifying for the World Cup after dominating Panama. With Christian Pulisic scoring three times in a 5-1 rout of Panama at sold-out Exploria Stadium, about the only thing the Americans have to do is show up in Costa Rica for their final qualifying match and they’re through to Qatar this fall.

Saint Peter’s March Madness run made an everlasting impact. Cinderella finally collapsed, writes columnist Bill Plaschke. The lowest-seeded team to advance to the Elite Eight finally met a hurdle it could not magically clear, the 15th-seeded Peacocks falling to mighty North Carolina in the East Region final, 69-49. But the team’s two-week run left an indelible footprint on a cynical sports world that has increasingly stopped believing such wonders are possible

Cody Bellinger is slumping again as he searches to rediscover his swing and MVP form. Bellinger is struggling in spring training, striking out in 14 of 19 at-bats. The 2019 National League MVP knows he has to find his swing again.


The Lakers blew a 20-point halftime lead and lost to the Pelicans. With the loss, they fell to 10th place in the Western Conference standings. Despite a 39-point game from LeBron James, the Lakers lost 116-108 to New Orleans, blowing a 23-point lead and squandering all the momentum they had built by showing signs of life over the previous four games.

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L.A.’s asphalt-covered schoolyards are an environmental injustice. Children shouldn’t be forced to learn and play in hot, asphalt-covered, fenced-in campuses, especially in neighborhoods that already lack park space.


The Roman Pool at Hearst Castle
The Roman Pool at Hearst Castle, reopening in May, is a tiled indoor pool decorated with eight statues of Roman gods, goddesses and heroes.
(Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

Hearst Castle will reopen on May 11 with slightly lowered admission prices. The first months of the castle’s closure in 2020 were forced by the pandemic. Then the shutdown was prolonged in early 2021, when rain runoff undercut the winding road that buses shuttling visitors must follow to the hilltop mansion.

The move is sure to please travelers planning spring and summer road trips but may mean even more to state parks officials, concessionaires and businesses in San Simeon and nearby Cambria, which have relied on spending by legions of castle-bound visitors since the state park system acquired the mansion from the Hearst family and opened it to the public in 1957.



Spectators waving and taking photographs outside the 59th Academy Awards
Spectators wave and take photographs outside the 59th Academy Awards in Los Angeles in 1986.
(Los Angeles Times )

Last night’s Academy Awards had a lot of firsts, including the historic introduction of a fan-favorite award, won by Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead.” But the award is not an actual Oscar.

The film academy has long cultivated its air of exclusivity, but with ratings for the Oscars plummeting to an all-time low in 2021, the group’s leaders and ABC executives are desperate to find new ways to broaden the audience for the show this year.

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