The rapidly expanding fallout from the biggest scandal in the history of Hollywood has prompted the vaunted Academy to call an emergency meeting to strategize how best to manage the crisis.
“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,” declared the Academy in a statement issued Wednesday. “The Board of Governors will be holding a special meeting on Saturday, Oct. 14, to discuss the allegations against Weinstein and any actions warranted by the Academy.”
Despite its strong condemnation of the “repugnant, abhorrent” alleged actions of the professionally and politically influential producer, the Academy finds itself facing hard questions on how it should effectively respond going forward, particularly given the growing list of alleged scandals of other industry players.
“One reservation that the organization may have about disciplining Weinstein is that doing so would create the expectation that it would adjudicate the behavior of other members caught up in scandals — among them Mel Gibson, Roman Polanski and Bill Cosby,” The Hollywood Reporter notes.
Not only did Weinstein co-found two massively influential film companies (Miramax and The Weinstein Co.), he has been honored repeatedly from the stage of the Academy Awards, several of his films and their stars taking home the coveted Oscar statue. Weinstein himself was handed an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love back in 1999 — along with the film’s leading lady, Gwyneth Paltrow, who has now come forward to accuse him of sexual harassment.
THR reports that a “growing number of people, both inside and outside of the Hollywood community, have begun asking the Academy to revoke Weinstein’s membership.” Among those putting pressure on the Academy from the outside, THR notes, is the National Organization for Women (NOW), while the British version of the academy, BAFTA, has already suspended his membership.
So far, other than the public condemnation, the Academy has not taken any formal action against Weinstein. Technically, he has not violated any of the 8,427-member organization’s rules. If history is any indication, the Academy will not oust him, having only booted one member (for screener violations) in nine decades.
If the Academy chooses to follow BAFTA’s lead and suspend Weinstein’s membership, will it do the same for all those involved in similar scandals? What about the many industry leaders who have been accused of covering up Weinstein’s abuses, including Matt Damon and Ben Affleck? Will the Academy allow them to take the stage, thus elevating that which it expressly condemned as “repugnant, abhorrent and antithetical to the high standards of the Academy and the creative community it represents”?
This is Hollywood’s worst nightmare — and it’s been a long time coming.