LOS ANGELES, California: Chris Rock’s live Netflix special will air just a week before the Academy Awards, the streamer said on Tuesday, raising expectations that the comedian would address the shocking moment he was slapped by Will Smith during last year’s Hollywood award show.
On Saturday night, “Chris Rock: Selective Outrage” will become the first-ever event shown in real time on Netflix, accompanied by pre- and post-show entertainment featuring celebrities, from Jerry Seinfeld and Amy Schumer to Sir Paul McCartney and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Netflix did not comment on the material of Rock’s main show, but the comic has spent much of the last year touring standup venues around the world with a routine that has included jokes about “The Slap.”
Last March, Smith climbed onto the Oscar stage and slapped Rock across the face in response to a joke the comic made about the closely cropped hair of his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, who has alopecia.
Rock was asked by Los Angeles police at the time whether he wanted to file a report against Smith, but he declined, and he has not publicly addressed the incident outside of his standup shows since.
“March 4 will be a hilarious evening, with an incredible set from Chris Rock — one of the greatest standups of all-time — and contributions from an amazing lineup of special guests,” said Robbie Praw, Netflix vice president for comedy.
“Our goal is to deliver the best standup comedy to our members, and this live streaming event further reinforces all the ways we continue to invest in the genre,” he added.
The world’s leading streaming platform, Netflix has lured millions of viewers away from traditional broadcast television, but it lost subscribers for the first time last year.
The company, which has since returned to growth, has been experimenting with various new models, including live content.
The streaming company already hosts a live comedy festival at more than 35 venues in Los Angeles, though those shows have not yet been available in real time on its platform.
From next year, Netflix will air the Screen Actors Guild awards — an important pre-Oscar Hollywood award show — live on its platform.
According to multiple reports the company is also looking into offering live sports on its platform. Rivals including Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video already offer live events including sports and musical events.
Saturday’s comedy show will be Rock’s second for Netflix, after the pre-recorded 2018 “Chris Rock: Tamborine.”
The 95th Academy Awards take place this year on March 12.