By Andreas Rentz/.
As major institutions back away from Harvey Weinstein, one key group has just announced it will take up the issue of the disgraced producer: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Calling allegations against Weinstein “repugnant, abhorrent, and antithetical to the high standards of the Academy and the creative community it represents,” the organization announced Wednesday that it will hold a special Board of Governors meeting on Saturday, October 14 to discuss any actions the Academy should take.
If the Academy acts, it would signal a major break from tradition, according to interviews with multiple board members and Academy members.
“There are all sorts of people who’ve done all sorts of things in the Academy,” one Academy governor told Vanity Fair on Tuesday. “Did we throw out Roman Polanski? Did the TV Academy throw out Bill Cosby? I’ve never heard of this happening with anyone. That’s not the way business is done.” Another governor was confident a change would be made quickly.
Weinstein, who was fired from his company on Sunday amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault, has become an industry pariah in a matter of days, condemned by A-listers including Disney C.E.O. Bob Iger, DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, George Clooney, and even former President Barack Obama. On Wednesday, one major awards group, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts suspended Weinstein, calling his behavior “completely unacceptable and incompatible with BAFTA’s values.” On Tuesday, the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts rejected Weinstein’s $5 million pledge to fund an endowment for female filmmakers.
The film Academy, the institution central to Weinstein’s identity as an Oscar kingmaker, rarely reacts as quickly to an unfolding news story, and has a history of separating its members’ work from their behavior. In 2003, for example, the Academy awarded an Oscar to Polanski, who served jail time in a 1977 sexual abuse case.
“I don’t even know if we have a morals clause . . . Do we?” one longtime Academy member and Oscar winner said. The lone known example of the Academy booting a member for his behavior was Godfather: Part II actor Carmine Caridi, who was expelled after he loaned his Oscar screeners to a neighbor who turned out to be a movie pirate.
For Weinstein to be suspended, “It would have to be formally proposed at a board meeting, and he’d have his day in court,” another longtime Academy member who has worked with Weinstein said.
Nevertheless, the National Organization for Women is calling for the Academy to act quickly. “A sexual predator doesn’t deserve the privilege of an Academy membership—and all the opportunities to wield outsize power that come with it,” NOW president Toni van Pelt said in a statement. “If Weinstein has power in Hollywood, women are at risk. Stripping his membership is the obvious next step toward achieving justice.”
This story has been updated to reflect the Academy’s statement issued on Wednesday afternoon.
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