The most dramatic fall from grace in Hollywood history continued on Saturday, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to expel disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein amid mounting evidence that he had sexually harassed dozens of women over several decades.
The Academy’s 54-member board–which includes such luminaries as Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Hanks, and Steven Spielberg–held an emergency session in Beverly Hills and voted to strip Weinstein of his lifetime membership. NBC News obtained a copy of the release.
JUST IN: The Motion Picture Academy votes to immediately expel Harvey Weinstein pic.twitter.com/U9zmtXuYtC
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 14, 2017
It’s only the second time in the Academy’s 90-year history that it has expelled a member. The first was in 2004, when actor Carmine Caridi was given the boot after he lent DVD screeners, or advance copies of movies, to a friend who posted them online.
The meeting was called on Wednesday, three days after the board of Weinstein’s own company fired him. Some board members were concerned about opening a can of worms. Indeed,the board hasn’t taken action against the likes of Roman Polanski, who pleaded guilty to having sex with a then 13-year-old girl. Nor has it acted against Bill Cosby, who faces allegations that he assaulted dozens of women over the years. Nor has it addressed “7th Heaven” star Stephen Collins, who admitted in 2014 that he’d molested at least three girls.
Nonetheless, by most accounts, the discussion wasn’t very heated. According to one member, “everyone seemed aligned” on one thing–Weinstein had to go.
No doubt the board was prodded by the growing number of women coming forward to say Weinstein had molested him. Chances were that many of them had heard a tape of an NYPD sting from 2015, in which Weinstein appeared to admit groping a model. Listen here, via MSNBC.
Scott Feinberg, the longtime awards columnist at The Hollywood Reporter, believes that Weinstein’s ouster will result in more pressure for the Academy to dump “other problematic members.” He believes that “a not inconsiderable number” of the Academy’s 8,400 members have “checkered pasts of their own,” and will likely be targeted by those who want all sexual predators purged from Hollywood.
Nonetheless, this vote was long overdue, especially considering reports that Weinstein’s debauchery had been an open secret in Hollywood for years and that a number of attempts to expose him had run aground. It should be noted that once this finally came to light, Weinstein was kicked to the curb in record time. Before Saturday’s vote, he had already been fired from his own company and expelled by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
For some time, conservatives have tried to use Weinstein’s history as a prominent Democratic donor to tie Weinstein around the Democrats’ necks. For instance, Sebastian Gorka claimed–with a straight face–that the left created Weinstein by eroding the traditional respect for women championed by the right. But they forget that once it was proven beyond doubt that Weinstein was a predator, he was pushed out in short order. And many of the same people who slammed Weinstein are the same people who continued to coddle Donald Trump after the “Access Hollywood” tapes came out.
Weinstein could potentially be in for more hurt. He also faces expulsion from the Producers Guild of America and the French Legion of Honour, and he is under investigation by police in both New York and London. For all his talk about fighting to save his reputation, that may be the least of his problems.
(featured image courtesy Peabody Awards, available under a Creative Commons-BY license)