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Harvey Weinstein

The shockwaves from the ongoing Harvey Weinstein bombshells continue to ripple through the film industry, with the latest coming from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, arguably the biggest body of representation in Weinstein's profession. Following the revelation that Weinstein was being accused by numerous women of being a serial sexual predator, the Academy issued a stern statement condemning Weinstein's alleged actions. Now, however, the group is meeting to discuss whether he should be expelled from the Academy... an action that has only been taken one time with an Academy member.

An emergency meeting is being held on Saturday by the 54 members of the Academy's board of governors to discuss how best to handle Harvey Weinstein's status as an Academy member in the wake of these horrifying allegations. Past Academy presidents have made it clear that Weinstein should be removed immediately, with former Academy President Sid Ganis basically stating that Weinstein was, in effect, already out of the membership.

Others, however, recognize the unusual precedent this action would cause, and question what it might mean for other Academy members who face allegations or sexual or criminal behavior. Bruce Feldman, a member of the public relations branch of the Academy, says to The Hollywood Reporter:

It's not that I wouldn't like to see Harvey booted out of the Academy. I would. But this raises questions about [Roman] Polanski and [Bill] Cosby and Lord knows who else. And then there are the legions of big-shot producers and execs who belittle and scream at everyone daily. Is persistent abusiveness okay, but sexual predation isn't?

The ongoing Harvey Weinstein controversy really is unlike anything that we have seen in our lifetime, where a major film executive faces accusations from numerous women, and might face legal repercussions once all of the dust has settled (and it's nowhere near done settling at this moment). So the Academy has to react. But as mentioned, membership in the Academy has been on a "for life" basis, and the only person ever removed from the Academy was Carmine Caridi, who lost his membership after copies of his Oscar-contending screeners ended up online. Caridi was found to be in violation of an existing policy. The Academy now needs to figure out what line to draw in the sand regarding Harvey Weinstein and his behavior.

Most of the Academy members interviewed by THR support an immediate removal of Harvey Weinstein, even as it would establish a precedent that could impact the membership of other members. One anonymous public relations branch manager said to the trade:

As horrible and disgusting as Harvey's actions are, the Academy would be insane if they terminated his membership. There have been many, many Hollywood scandals over the past 90 years of AMPAS' existence and no word or deed emanated from the house of Oscar. To start now would be foolhardy. What the governors can and should do is make a strong statement of condemnation and leave it at that.

They have issued a statement. Will they do more than that this weekend? We will find out soon enough.

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