Welcome!
2017-10-13 23:25:03
Film Academy to Vote on Revoking Harvey Weinstein’s Membership

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Ninety years ago, Louis B. Mayer created an elite club that would become the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Membership, granted for life, quickly turned into the ultimate indicator of status — moviedom’s equivalent of the mob’s “made man.”

Offscreen malfeasance mattered not. Perhaps contributing to the film industry’s willingness to tolerate sexual harassment, bullying, drug abuse and worse, the academy has long insisted that professional achievement is what counts. Bill Cosby is still a member. So is Roman Polanski. Mel Gibson was never kicked out, even after his 2006 anti-Semitic tirade was followed by a 2011 no-contest plea to battering a former girlfriend.

But the academy stands at a precipice. Harvey Weinstein could change everything.

On Saturday morning, the academy’s 54-member board will meet at the group’s mirrored-glass offices here to discuss what to do about Mr. Weinstein in the wake of investigations by The New York Times and The New Yorker that revealed sexual harassment and rape allegations against him going back decades. Options include doing nothing (possible), revoking his membership (as the British Academy of Film and Television Arts did on Wednesday) and even nullifying the best-picture Oscar Mr. Weinstein won in 1999 for producing “Shakespeare in Love” (unlikely).

The emergency academy meeting comes as people are fleeing the New York-based studio Mr. Weinstein helped found. A fourth member of the Weinstein Company’s all-male board, Richard Koenigsberg, resigned on Thursday as talk of bankruptcy swirled. The creative forces behind the musical “In the Heights,” Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara A. Hudes, publicly called on the Weinstein Company to relinquish its movie adaptation rights. Apple ended plans for a Weinstein-produced series about Elvis Presley.

Late Friday, Amazon decided not to move forward with a Weinstein-produced mafia series from David O. Russell that had previously received a two-season commitment and was estimated to cost $160 million.

“We support Amazon’s decision as in light of recent news and out of respect for all those affected we have decided together that it is best to not move forward with this show,” Mr. Russell said in a statement with two stars of the series, Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore.

Mr. Weinstein, who was fired by his company on Sunday, has responded to allegations of sexual misconduct with a mix of contrition and combativeness. He is contesting his firing and has emphatically denied all allegations of rape. His spokeswoman, Sallie Hofmeister, has said that he is in therapy and “is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance.”

Only one person is known to have been permanently pushed out of the academy. Carmine Caridi, a character actor, had his membership revoked in 2004 for violating an academy rule involving Oscar voting. He got caught lending DVD screeners of contending films; copies ended up online. (In the 1990s, a couple of people were suspended temporarily for selling their allotted tickets to the Oscar ceremony.)

Even so, many people in Hollywood think the academy only has one option when it comes to Mr. Weinstein: Kick him out.

Censuring Mr. Weinstein, a fixture on the Oscar circuit for two decades who lived for the validation the awards gave him, would also be a chance for Hollywood to reckon with a past that includes rampant mistreatment of women — all the way back to the days of Mayer and his fellow good-old-boy studio chiefs.

“The idea that anyone would give him a second chance or entertain that notion that he can change is beyond absurd,” Terry Press, the president of CBS Films, wrote on Facebook of Mr. Weinstein. “If the academy does not kick him out, I am resigning my academy membership.”

But ousting Mr. Weinstein would put the academy on a slippery slope, said Martin Kaplan, the director of the Norman Lear Center for the study of entertainment and society at the University of Southern California. “It would move them into adjudicating behavior,” Mr. Kaplan said. “There are plenty of other members with a history of abominable offscreen actions. What kind of bad behavior counts and what doesn’t? What is the red line?”’

If it does nothing, however, the academy risks looking like a shield for Mr. Weinstein — the embodiment of Hollywood aiding and abetting, if only by looking the other way. That is the last thing the academy needs, especially given the work it has done in recent years to address severe racial and gender imbalances in its membership. In January 2016, after two years of #OscarsSoWhite outrage, the academy vowed to double female and minority membership by 2020. As it now stands, the academy has about 8,400 members, with women constituting 28 percent and minorities 13 percent.

The academy declined to comment about Mr. Weinstein beyond a statement it released midweek.

“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 statement said.

Mr. Weinstein’s power in Hollywood has always come with his ability to capitalize on the Academy Awards. He was at his height in the late 1990s, when he drove films like “Shakespeare in Love” to best-picture wins and huge ticket sales. Even in a diminished state more recently, he remained a player, prodding the tiny art film “Lion” to six nominations this year.

In total, Mr. Weinstein has overseen campaigns that have resulted in more than 300 Academy Award nominations and best-picture Oscars for “Shakespeare in Love,” “The English Patient,” “Chicago,” “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist.” In addition to his one Oscar win, Mr. Weinstein also holds one nomination, for producing “Gangs of New York.”

Seven months ago, Mr. Weinstein was in his element when he hosted the Weinstein Company’s annual pre-Oscars party at the Montage Beverly Hills hotel. The festivities included a performance of songs from “In the Heights” introduced by Mr. Miranda. When two latecomers – Jay-Z and Beyoncé – entered the ballroom, Mr. Weinstein asked that the songs be performed again.

The mogul got his wish. And when the second performance was complete, the celebrity couple gave a standing ovation.