LOS ANGELES -- Jimmy Kimmel parachuted onto the stage to kick off the 95th Oscars Sunday night and soon began firing off one-liners at the celebrities in attendance -- and some who were conspicuously absent.
Among those missing from the Dolby Theatre but still a key element in Kimmel's monologue: Will Smith, who earned himself a 10-year ban from the Oscars after storming the stage and slapping Chris Rock last year.
"We want you to have fun," Kimmel told the audience. "We want you to feel safe. Most importantly we want me to feel safe."
"So we have strict policies in place: If anyone in this theater commits an act of violence at any point during the show, you will be awarded the Oscar for Best Actor, and permitted to give a 19-minute long speech," he added.
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Kimmel noted after last year's incident, the Oscars has a crisis team in place for this year.
He joked: "If anything unpredictable or violent happens during the ceremony, just do what you did last year: Nothing. Sit there and do absolutely nothing. Maybe even give the assailant a hug."
Kimmel opened the ceremony with a nod to Tom Cruise's "Top Gun: Maverick," digitally inserting himself into a flight scene and reluctantly ejecting himself from the cockpit -- landing on the Dolby stage.
That happened even as real-life fighter jets performed their own tribute to the film with a flyover above Los Angeles. The U.S. Navy pilots in F/A-18 Super Hornets flew above Hollywood Boulevard after taking off from Naval Air Station Lemoore near Fresno.
Kimmel, hosting for the third time, also had a little fun with some of the distinguished Hollywood luminaries at the ceremony.
Steven Spielberg, for example, who is now the only director to be nominated in six different decades, with his nomination for the semiautobiographical "The Fabelmans."
Noting Spielberg was seated near Seth Rogen, he urged the notorious stoner to share some substances with the director.
"Steven claims he's never even smoked weed. Which I find hard to believe. You mean to tell me you were sober when you made a movie about an alien who eats Reese's Pieces all day and can't remember how to phone home? You were high as a bike when you made that movie."
He also had some fun with the traditional length of the Oscars show, which this year had more categories added back in.
He noted both director James Cameron and Tom Cruise were absent from the show.
"You know a show is too long when even James Cameron can't sit through it."