Kathleen Kennedy Proposes Industry Commission and "Zero Tolerance" in Wake of Weinstein Claims

Kathleen Kennedy - ELLE's 24th Annual Women in Hollywood Celebration - Getty - H 2017
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"Predators must come to feel they can't count on power or wealth or fame to shield them," the Lucasfilm president and 'Star Wars' producer said at Elle's Women in Hollywood Event.

Kathleen Kennedy addressed the allegations of sexual misconduct surrounding Harvey Weinstein and suggested bold proposals to tackle the culture of fear and abuse in Hollywood on Monday night for the 24th annual Elle Women in Hollywood celebration at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.

The Lucasfilm president prefaced her keynote address by taking "a moment to get serious," suggesting that the event was the "perfect platform" to talk about the "terrible and terrifying stories of sexual harassment and assault in the film industry that has dominated the news."

"A demand is growing for action to prevent further civil and human rights abuses in the future," Kennedy said, directly naming Weinstein. She added that the "increased awareness of the belittlement, objectification and predation long endured by women who work in film will certainly be one result of the exposure of what Harvey Weinstein did."

Kennedy praised the women who had come forward to accuse Weinstein and said that their act will embolden other women. 

Admonishing the culture in Hollywood that allows men to harass and assault women, Kennedy said things must change so that "predators must come to feel they can't count on power or wealth or fame to shield them."

She suggested the establishment of a commission to change the culture of Hollywood, with "zero-tolerance policies for abusive behavior and a secure, reliable, unimpeachable system in which victims of abuse can report what’s happened to them with a confident expectation that action will be taken, without placing their employment, reputation and career at risk."

Kennedy continued, "For the past few days, I’ve been in discussions with friends and colleagues, and I want to use my few moments of speaking tonight to offer a proposal. The organizations that constitute the American film industry — the studios, the unions, the guilds and the talent agencies — should immediately convene a commission charged with the task of developing new, industry-wide protections against sexual harassment and abuse."  

She said the commission would be composed of labor and management specialists as well as lawyers and legal scholars, sociologists, psychologists, feminist activists and theorists, as well as people who work in film and television.

"The commission should be fully funded by our industry in order to address the task at hand in a thorough-going, comprehensive fashion. The goal of this commission would be to transform our industry in regard to sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace," she said. 

Later in the evening, fellow honoree Jennifer Lawrence said she supported Kennedy's proposition. "If we build this commission, this community of support where anyone can come to us and ask questions, I will give my all to it," she said in her speech. 

The prolific producer has worked on such films as Schindler's List, Back to the Future, several films in the Star Wars universe and many others.

Kennedy is also featured on one of the eight Elle November issue covers celebrating women in the entertainment industry. Lawrence, Laura Dern, Tessa Thompson, Jessica Chastain, Cicely Tyson, Margot Robbie and Riley Keough are the other cover ladies being honored by the Hearst-owned magazine.

"I don't like to step in front of the camera, but if I can be a role model for women to recognize they can make it in film, I'm happy to do that whenever I can," Kennedy told Elle in an interview accompanying her cover.

The evening was hosted by Elle editor in chief Nina Garcia and publisher Kevin O'Malley, along with presenting sponsors L'Oréal Paris and "Real is Rare. Real is a Diamond." and supporting sponsor Calvin Klein.