Motion Picture Academy Board To Consider Kicking Out Harvey Weinstein
NEW YORK (CNN) — Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Hanks, Laura Dern, Steven Spielberg and Rory Kennedy are among the 54 power players who are deciding Harvey Weinstein’s fate in Hollywood.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hosts the Oscars, says Weinstein’s alleged behavior is “repugnant.” So the academy’s oversight body, the Board of Governors, is holding a meeting right now.
The board may hold a vote to strip Weinstein’s lifetime membership. An announcement from the academy is expected sometime later on Saturday (Oct. 14).
The academy said in a statement that the meeting’s purpose is to “discuss the allegations against Weinstein and any actions warranted by the Academy.”
Recent stories from The New York Times and The New Yorker forced Weinstein’s conduct into the open. He stands accused of rape by four women. Dozens of other women have lodged allegations of assault or harassment.
Weinstein was fired from his movie and TV studio, The Weinstein Company, last Sunday. The studio has been paralyzed by the scandal, with some staffers comparing it to the Titanic.
The scandal has been deeply embarrassing not just for the company, but for the entertainment industry writ large.
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Now all eyes are on the academy’s Board of Governors to see what they decide.
There is a push to expel Weinstein from the academy, three sources told CNN on condition of anonymity.
There has also been talk in some circles about taking away Weinstein’s Oscar statue, although this is believed to be unlikely.
Sources tell CNN that the board members are feeling the pressure that accompanies such a momentous decision. Many members have been getting in touch with board members to express various opinions.
It is a “watershed moment,” one of the sources said.
Even Harvey Weinstein’s estranged brother Bob, who is now running their company, wants Harvey kicked out.
“I am gonna write a note to them saying he definitely should be kicked out of the Academy,” he said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
The board includes famous actors, acclaimed writers, directors, producers, and executives. There are 17 branches representing the film world — makeup artists, casting directors, designers, P.R. professionals — with three representatives each, plus three at-large members.
Some of the board members, like Spielberg, are household names.
Others, like Paramount Pictures CEO Jim Gianopulos, aren’t celebrities, but hold considerable sway in Hollywood.
It is a very powerful group. One of the sources said the public faces on the board, in particular, will personally want to be seen as “doing the right thing” and getting ahead of the issue.
The academy’s bylaws include a provision that says, “Any member of the Academy may be suspended or expelled for cause by the Board of Governors. Expulsion or suspension as herein provided for shall require the affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds of all the Governors.”
But controversial figures like Roman Polanski and Mel Gibson were not kicked out of the organization during their own scandals.
In fact, Polanski won an Oscar decades after he pleaded guilty to raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977. (He fled the United States before he could be sentenced, and authorities in the U.S. have had a warrant for his arrest since 1978.)
The man who is thought to have been the only person ever kicked out of the Academy lost his membership because he shared screeners of Oscar-nominated movies, copies of which were eventually put online.
Weinstein has shepherded numerous films to Oscar victories, but he only has one statue personally: a 1999 win for producing “Shakespeare in Love.”
The academy is not the only Hollywood group convening to discuss the Weinstein scandal.
The Producers Guild of America is also planning to reconsider his status. The guild was supposed to meet on Saturday, but now the meeting is scheduled to take place on Monday.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts, or BAFTA, has already suspended Weinstein’s membership.