Actor and comedian Chris Rock will host this year's Oscars, despite mounting pressure for him to step down. The show's producer, Reginald Hudlin, has said that the South Carolina-born entertainer is hard at work writing new material and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Ampas), which organises the Oscars, is preparing to be the butt of the jokes on the night.
Several notable actors including Tyrese Gibson have asked Rock to reconsider hosting the biggest night in entertainment industry. Instead, according to Hudlin, he has been hard at work writing jokes in preparation for the big night.
An increasing list of black performers have decided to boycott the event objecting a lack of Oscar-nominated performers of colour. Actress Jada Pinkett Smith, her husband Will Smith and director Spike Lee have decided not to attend the awards which will take place on 28 February.
The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite on social media has been used to galvanise support for the blockade on the Academy. Others in Hollywood, such as George Clooney, Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo and British director Steve McQueen, have criticised the Academy for their nominations and the lack of opportunity for black actors in Hollywood.
Hudlin said: "As things got a little provocative and exciting, he (Rock) said, 'I'm throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show'," according to US network Entertainment Tonight. "He will deliver something that people will be talking about for weeks."
Rampling's reverse racism claim
He added that the Academy was ready for Rock to make jokes about the #OscarsSoWhite campaign. But Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling has expressed reservations about the boycott.
The British actress told French radio station Europe 1 that the campaign was "racist to white people". But later said her comments had been "misinterpreted". And actor Michael Caine urged black people to be "patient" with the lack of diversity.
He said on Radio 4's Today programme: "There's loads of black actors. In the end you can't vote for an actor because he's black. You can't say 'I'm going to vote for him, he's not very good, but he's black, I'll vote for him'.
"You have to give a good performance and I'm sure people have. I saw Idris Elba [in Beasts Of No Nation]. I thought he was wonderful… Be patient. Of course it will come. It took me years to get an Oscar, years."
On 22 January, Ampas announced it will double the number of its female and minority members by 2020. Three new seats will be added to its board of governors aiming to improve diversity, lifetime voting rights will be limited to members who have been 'active' in the film and TV industry for the last 10 years.