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Will Smith resigns from the motion picture academy. What is it?

Here is a brief history of the motion picture academy, which Will Smith announced he was resigning from Friday.

Will Smith resigned Friday from the motion picture academy following his Oscars night slap of Chris Rock and said he would accept any further punishment the organization imposed. That led people searching Google to ask the question, "What is the motion picture academy?"

Typically just referred to as "the academy," the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAAS) is usually not one that most movie fans think about except for once a year when it puts on the Oscars.

According to the Oscars website, the academy was formed in 1927 after MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer and his guests discussed creating an organization to benefit the film industry.

"A week later, 36 invitees from all the creative branches of the film industry dined at Los Angeles's Ambassador Hotel to hear a proposal to found the International Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences," the Oscars site reads.

Not long after, the Academy was formed with Douglas Fairbanks named its first president.

The first Oscars ceremony was held in 1929 at a banquet. There was not nearly the drama there is today as the winners were announced three months earlier. 

A year later, newspapers were given the list of winners to allow them to put it in the morning papers. But in 1940, the Los Angeles Times published the winners ahead of the ceremony. That prompted what we see now -- the sealed envelopes that are opened on stage.

After years on the radio, the first televised Oscar ceremony came in 1953. The first color telecast was in 1966.

In 1968, the ceremony was postponed two days out of respect for the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was postponed again for 24 hours in 1981 due to the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.

Over the years, the academy has steadily added awards for specific elements of movie-making. The organization itself has also expanded to include the awarding of grants, scholarships and the opening of a museum.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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