10:21pm PT by Scott Feinberg
Critics Choice Association Expels Jeffrey Wells Following Posts About Atlanta Shootings (Exclusive)
Jeffrey Wells, the veteran film industry commentator who has long operated the widely read blog Hollywood Elsewhere, has been indefinitely suspended by the Critics Choice Association, the group of journalists that presents the annual Critics Choice Awards.
The decision to sanction Wells, which was made by the CCA board Thursday night, came in response to "a pattern of offensive, insensitive and unprofessional behavior," The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Wells, who regularly sparks controversy with his riffs on Hollywood and social issues, most recently provoked widespread outrage with an article that he posted and then deleted Wednesday, but which others screen-grabbed and posted to social media. The piece featured speculation about the implications of Tuesday's shootings at Atlanta-area Asian spas on the Oscar prospects of the Chinese director of Nomadland, Chloé Zhao, and the American film about Korean immigrants, Minari. Wells attributed those views to unnamed "friendos" with whom he says he conversed.
Wells followed Wednesday's controversial post with another later in the day titled "Second Attempt," in which he sought to clarify his earlier thoughts, and then one Thursday in which he shared his response to criticism about the initial post from a onetime Sundance Film Festival roommate:
"I didn’t associate the Oscar race with the shootings," Wells wrote. "A person I occasionally speak to did … big deal. I just listened and thought 'hmm, that’s an unusual angle but whatever.' And this person may have had a point, really, because of the way everything gets associated with everything else these days … it all mixes and swirls together in a big cultural whirlpool. Anyway it seemed like an interesting exchange at first, but then Twitter weighed in with shock and horror and I took it down. It's just words and opinions, man … words and musings and associations. If you had been engaged on this particular angle or topic at a party somewhere, you would have listened and chimed in. You might have disagreed or told the person who shared this perspective that it was insensitive or whatever, and maybe you would have had a point. But because you're a Twitter hyena, you tried to make it into a big thing."
But the onetime Sundance roommate was not alone. Numerous fellow CCA members began tweeting calls for Wells' expulsion from the group, while high-level industry players also began urging the CCA to take action.
Members of the CCA board could not be reached for comment.
Wells replied via email to a request for comment, stating:
"To know that I won't be getting the usual swag and DVD screeners during the '21 and '22 Oscar season, and not attending the Critics Choice awards show at Barker Hangar … that's not the end of the world. Not to me, it isn't. But dodging the slings and arrows of the woke mafia is harrowing and upsetting and quite an ugly thing to experience. All I did was briefly and rather stupidly post a digressive conversation, an odd tangent stemming from a terrible tragedy … a digressive discussion that anybody might have voiced or been privy to at any social gathering, if we were having social gatherings. People in my world consider all the currents and echoes and side issues … everything swirls together. Knowledgable people consider all the angles.
"It was the wrong thing to post yesterday — I obviously got that and took it down as quickly as possible when I realized what the reaction was. But when the Twitter wolves are agitated and salivating and thirsty for blood, they copy posts and pass them around like deranged hyenas. Wokesters are the plague and the brain police of our time, and I just hope Michael Haneke or somebody like him makes a film about them some day. If William Burroughs were alive and well he'd have a field day with these monsters.
"Obviously I realize it was a mistake to mention something as trivial as the Oscar race in the middle of a terrible crisis, hours after the killings were first reported. I obviously understand that. I obviously made a big mistake. I realized my error very quickly and took it down as quickly as possible. Mistakes happen. Every so often I'm reminded just how extreme our culture has become in persecuting people for what they think and what they say. My mistake was obvious, but I especially erred by posting a digressive discussion at the wrong time.
"We're living in a time in which someone can lose their job or their platform for something they write. We live with this reality every day. I'm imperfect. I run my own business. I sometimes get it wrong or cross lines, but today's climate is horrific. Terror and intimidation is part of what we're all living through now."