Harvey Weinstein

Hollywood hails Academy decision to expel Harvey Weinstein after sexual harassment claims

After being criticised for its silence on the subject last weekend, satirical TV show Saturday Night Live took aim at the Oscar-winning producer

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 October, 2017, 6:21am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 October, 2017, 7:49pm

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled Oscar-winning producer Harvey Weinstein on Saturday, after allegations he sexually harassed or assaulted a number of women.

The academy said its 54-member board of governors “voted well in excess of the required two-thirds majority to immediately expel him from the Academy”.

The expulsion follows allegations reported by The New York Times and The New Yorker that Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted several women in incidents dating back to the 1980s, including three who said they were raped. Weinstein, 65, has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone.

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In announcing the decision, the academy said it was also telegraphing a broader message.

“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 wilful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behaviour and workplace harassment in our industry is over,” it said. “What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society.” it said. “The board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify.”

NBC’s Saturday Night Live had given Weinstein a pass last week, but the disgraced film mogul wasn’t quite so lucky this week.

A sketch depicted actresses discussing sexual harassment. Kate McKinnon as a dotty Hollywood veteran recalled being invited to Weinstein’s hotel room where he was naked and hanging upside down, trying to trick her into thinking his genitals were actually his face.

For Weinstein, who made a name for himself and his studio with the critical and commercial success of a number of small-budget independent films, it was just the latest fallout from allegations that have rocked an industry that has often looked the other way when confronted by reports of sexual misconduct.

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The fallout from the allegations has been swift for Weinstein. He was fired at the beginning of this week from The Weinstein Co, the independent studio he cofounded in 2005 with his brother Bob Weinstein.

Among those who supported the academy’s decision was actor Mia Farrow, whose son Ronan write The New Yorker article in which three women alleged Weinstein raped them. She tweeted: “Proud of TheAcademy! Harvey Weinstein is out.”

Hellboy actor Ron Perlman tweeted: “As a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences I am proud of their decision to expel Harvey Weinstein.”

The New York Police Department said this week it was investigating an allegation of sexual assault from 2004 against Weinstein.

His accusers included the actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who told The New York Times that she was sexually harassed by Weinstein more than 20 years ago, and actress and director Angelina Jolie, who told the publication that she “had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth and as a result chose never to work with him again.”

The academy’s board gathered on Saturday to discuss the allegations against Weinstein and his inclusion in the organisation, which comprises 8,000 people from the film industry and invites members to join based on their contributions to film. Governors include such luminaries as director Steven Spielberg and actors Tom Hanks, Laura Dern and Whoopi Goldberg.

In its 90-year history, the Academy has expelled only one other member, and only because 83-year-old Carmine Caridi, an actor, violated specific written rules about sharing screener copies of films in 2004. No member has been expelled for unethical or potentially criminal behaviour, including figures such as Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby and Mel Gibson, who have had high-profile sexual or domestic assault allegations made against them.

Weinstein is a member of the executives’ branch of the academy and is also a member of the Producers Guild of America, which has not said if it has made a decision regarding his membership.

The academy’s UK counterpart, BAFTA, suspended Weinstein on Wednesday morning, calling his alleged behaviour “completely unacceptable and incompatible with Bafta’s values”.

Hachette Book Group, the US publishing house of French group Lagardere, terminated the Weinstein Books imprint on Thursday. And People magazine reported on Tuesday that Weinstein’s wife, Marchesa label fashion designer Georgina Chapman, was leaving him.

A spokesman for The Weinstein Co, in an email, cited Bob Weinstein’s interview published on Saturday with The Hollywood Reporter, in which he said the academy should expel his brother. Bob Weinstein said he was aware of his brother’s marital infidelities, but said he had no idea about “the type of predator that he was,” according to the industry publication.

Additional reporting by Associated Press, The Guardian