Two Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences governors told me that Academy board members are discussing whether Harvey Weinstein should continue as a member. An impromptu board meeting is expected sometime this week. It’s worth noting that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board of governors is now one-third female, with members who include Whoopi Goldberg, Kimberly Peirce, and Christina Kounelias.
This would be a stunning reversal: By the count of The Weinstein Company’s website, his companies earned 303 Oscar nominations and 75 wins over three decades. Harvey could be the butt of Oscar jokes, but historically was the second most-thanked person in acceptance speeches, after Steven Spielberg.
Membership in the Academy is by invitation of the Board of Governors. It has the right to bestow and revoke memberships, but that’s rare. There are precedents for the Academy pulling members’ voting rights when they break the rules; “The Hurt Locker” producer Nicolas Chartier was barred from attending the 2010 Oscars after sending a letter to members on behalf of his movie. (He still won an Oscar.)
Outside the Academy, the pitchforks are raised. Today, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts suspended Weinstein’s membership in their organization, stating, “such behavior has absolutely no place in our industry.” And on Oct. 10, the National Organization of Women called on the Academy to revoke his membership (see statement below).
If the Academy chooses to revoke membership, for Weinstein that punishment would be second only to jail (which could be another possibility). He helped revolutionize the modern Oscar campaign, famously upsetting Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” for Best Picture in 1999 with “Shakespeare in Love.” Weinstein’s Oscar winners include “My Left Foot,” “The Piano,” “Good Will Hunting,” “The English Patient,” “The Crying Game,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Chicago,” “The Artist,” “The Aviator,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “The Iron Lady” and many, many more.
Weinstein taught a cadre of Oscar campaigners (Tony Angelotti, Cynthia Swartz, and Lisa Taback among them) to never to say die. His modus operandi was to push on every front, with critics, press, guilds, and Golden Globes voters on the road to Oscars, getting each movie seen by as many Academy members as possible. Even improbable Oscar contenders like “The Cider House Rules” and “Chocolat” landed Best Picture nominations. And in his prime, his star-studded Oscar weekend parties were the hottest tickets in town.
As another sign of Weinstein’s recent decline in influence, his awards season already looked thin. The only real prospect, summer hit “Wind River” from writer-director Taylor Sheridan and starring Jeremy Renner, was a long shot. (Ironically, the movie’s hero played by Renner tracks a serial sexual predator.) TWC pushed back Garth Davis’ follow-up to “Lion,” “Mary Magdalene,” to 2018. And when the New York Times exposé broke, the mogul was furiously re-editing badly reviewed Toronto International Film Festival entry “The Current War” (whose star, Benedict Cumberbatch, later spoke against him). TWC planned a late-year qualifying run for Bryan Cranston remake “The Upside,” which also scored weak reaction at TIFF. Harvey can’t help any of them now.
Statement of NOW President Toni Van Pelt
NOW is calling for sexual predator Harvey Weinstein to be removed from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. After decades of abusing his power to prey on women, the last place he should be is in Hollywood’s most powerful club.
This week the New York Times reported that Weinstein silenced numerous women who accused him of sexual harassment–and many more came forward after the article’s publication, including actors Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.
We are witnessing the downfall of a powerful man at the hands of empowered women. It took tremendous courage for these survivors to come forward, in spite of the looming threat of personal and legal retribution from Weinstein, and the fierce shame that so many survivors experience. I am deeply grateful to these women. Their bravery has inspired others to share their story–squelching the toxic culture of silence around sexual assault, and potentially sparing other women the same fate.
Weinstein has proven himself to be the worst kind of workplace monster: powerful and predatory. This week’s reports reveal Weinstein’s cold, calculated pattern of sexual harassment and assault–with his own employees used as pawns to manipulate women. Taken together, these accounts illustrate a disgusting abuse of power, wielded by Weinstein as an individual and with the weight of his company.
A sexual predator doesn’t deserve the privilege of an Academy membership–and all the opportunities to wield outsize power that come with it. If Weinstein has power in Hollywood, women are at risk. Stripping his membership is the obvious next step toward achieving justice.