Is the Hollywood casting couch era of “willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior ” really over?
The folks who hand out the Oscars are claiming just that after disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein was ousted from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at an emergency board of governors meeting.
The move came as the latest fallout from a week of cascading sexual harassment and assault allegations against the co-founder of The Weinstein Company.
“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors met today to discuss the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, and has voted well in excess of the required two-thirds majority to immediately expel him from the Academy,” the Academy said in a statement released after the meeting.
“We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over.
“What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society. The Board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify.”
Weinstein was a 20-year member of the organization behind the Oscars.
The 65-year-old mogul has been accused over the past week of sexual harassment by a number of actresses. Some allege he appeared naked in front of them, asked them for naked massages or otherwise propositioned them while discussing possible film roles. At least four women, most recently actress Rose McGowan, have accused him of sexual assault.
Weinstein won an Oscar in 1999 as a producer of best-picture winner “Shakespeare in Love.” His companies have also been distributors of Oscar winners “The Artist,” “Chicago,” “The King’s Speech” and “The English Patient.”
The Academy has more than 8,400 members and it has only expelled one member in its 90-year history, “The Godfather” actor Carmine Caridi, who was punished in 2004 after screener copies of movies that were sent to him turned up online.
Some pundits questioned whether The Academy would expel Weinstein, noting that the organization’s membership still includes director Roman Polanski, who is considered a fugitive in Los Angeles for having unlawful sexual contact with a minor in the 1970s, and comedian Bill Cosby, who has been accused of drugging and sexually assaulting dozens of women.
A petition on www.Change.org calling on the Academy to expel Weinstein had more than 100,000 signatures as of Friday.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts, or BAFTA, announced Wednesday it has suspended Weinstein’s membership.
The board of the Producers Guild of America had also planned to meet Saturday to consider expelling Weinstein, but postponed the session until Monday.
–– City News Service