Academy Deems Harvey Weinstein Claims "Repugnant," Calls Emergency Meeting
One reservation that the organization may have about disciplining Weinstein is that doing so would create the expectation that it would adjudicate the behavior of other members caught up in scandals — among them Mel Gibson, Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby.
In the wake of the allegations of sexual assault committed by Harvey Weinstein, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has released a statement, calling the disgraced mogul's behavior "repugnant" and calling for an emergency board of governors meeting to address the issue.
"The Academy finds the conduct described in the allegations against Harvey Weinstein to be repugnant, abhorrent and antithetical to the high standards of the Academy and the creative community it represents," the Academy said Wednesday in a statement. "The Board of Governors will be holding a special meeting on Saturday, Oct. 14, to discuss the allegations against Weinstein and any actions warranted by the Academy."
Weinstein, a member of the Academy for more than 20 years, long has been a major player at the Oscars. The two companies he founded, Miramax and The Weinstein Co., have distributed five best picture winners — The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Chicago, The King's Speech and The Artist — and Weinstein himself has personally taken home one statuette, as a producer of Shakespeare in Love.
A growing number of people, both inside and outside of the Hollywood community, have begun asking the Academy to revoke Weinstein's membership. Meanwhile, the National Organization for Women currently is gathering signatures from the public for a petition calling for Weinstein's ouster. And BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, which presents the U.K.'s equivalent of an Oscar, on Wednesday suspended Weinstein's membership.
Academy CEO Dawn Hudson and newly elected president John Bailey were traveling in Europe on Academy business over the past few days, and, in their absence, the issue of what to do about Weinstein was not formally addressed. But after returning to Los Angeles and consulting with members of the Academy's 54-person board of governors, they have clearly conveyed that they are taking the issue seriously — but have not yet determined what, if any, further action they will take.
While Weinstein's behavior has drawn condemnation, it may not specifically violate Academy rules, which mostly govern Oscar campaigning. The 8,427-member organization has only expelled one person in its 90-year history: Carmine Caridi, an actor who was found to have violated the Academy's no-loaning screener policy after copies of movies that had been sent to him turned up online. But the Academy, as a private organization, technically does have great leverage over who it does and does not include in its ranks.
The Academy stopped short of kicking Weinstein out of the organization on Wednesday, but it left the door open in its statement to taking "other actions." One reservation that it may have about disciplining Weinstein for his personal behavior is that doing so would then create the expectation that it would adjudicate the behavior of other members caught up in scandals.
The Academy, which admits members for life, does not make public a list of its members' names, but The Hollywood Reporter has independently confirmed that Mel Gibson, Roman Polanski and even Bill Cosby are on the rolls. Woody Allen never became a member. (Meanwhile, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences numbers Donald Trump among its ranks.)
The only prior occasion on which the Academy got into the business of adjudicating the personal behavior of its members was during the Red Scare, when it briefly banned blacklisted writers who were reported to be, or had been in the past, supporters of the Communist Party from being eligible for Academy Awards. That is now considered one of the black marks in Academy history. Several of those writers, working under pseudonyms, actually won Oscars, but not all lived to see the day when the organization apologized to the real writers and presented them with the statuettes that were rightfully theirs.