The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Will Smith pulls out of guarded Oscars

Los Angeles, March 21 (Reuters): The state of California yesterday assigned a National Guard unit to protect the Oscars, but at least one prominent star withdrew from the ceremonies, saying now was not the time to celebrate.

Actor Will Smith pulled out of Sunday’s scheduled Oscars show while other stars announced plans to wear peace sign pins, doves and even duct tape to protest the war in Iraq.

Smith, star of Men in Black, was scheduled to present an award at the show. He withdrew before the US bombing campaign in Iraq got underway in earnest yesterday.

“He felt uncomfortable in attending and respectfully asked to be excused. There’s no agenda, there’s no speeches. He just didn’t feel personally comfortable in going because of the world situation,” said his publicist, Stan Rosenfield.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences said yesterday it was still planning to go ahead, for now, with the ceremony — minus the glitzy red carpet — but a final decision was not expected before today. California authorities said that they would station a National Guard unit at the ceremonies, equipped with a mobile testing laboratory that could quickly detect any chemical or biological threat. “I can say the Academy Awards will be as safe and secure as any awards ceremony ever held,” California Gov. Gray Davis said.

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