International desk, October 15: The organisation behind the Oscars has voted to expel Harvey Weinstein following numerous allegations of sexual assault made against the film producer.The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said its board “voted well in excess of the required two-thirds majority” to expel him.
Its members include Hollywood figures such as Tom Hanks and Whoopi Goldberg.
Weinstein’s films have received more than 300 Oscar nominations and won 81.
In a statement, the Academy said governors voted to expel Weinstein “not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of wilful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behaviour and workplace harassment in our industry is over”.
They added: “What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society.”
The emergency board meeting followed an avalanche of accusations against the producer by more than two dozen women, including actresses Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Rose McGowan, who alleges that he raped her in a hotel room.
Weinstein, 65, has apologised for some aspects of his behaviour but insisted that any sexual contacts he had were consensual, and he denies accusations of criminal sexual harassment, rape and sexual assault.
The expulsion comes after Bob Weinstein told the Hollywood Reporter that his “sick and depraved” brother should be “kicked out” of the Academy.
Filmmaker Woody Allen told the BBC the scandal was “very sad for everybody involved”.
“Tragic for all women involved and sad for Harvey. The whole situation is very sad. There are no winners in that,” he said in New York.
Weinstein’s expulsion means he will no longer be able to vote for nominees or winners in the Oscars.
Hollywood figures were quick to praise the move but some have called for the Academy to take similar action against other members.
It is only the second time a member has been expelled. Actor Carmine Caridi had his membership revoked in 2004 after he allegedly sent confidential film preview videos to a friend which ended up online.
As the co-founder of Miramax Pictures and the Weinstein Company, Harvey Weinstein produced some of cinema’s most celebrated films, including Pulp Fiction, The English Patient, and Shakespeare in Love.
He has been thanked dozens of times in Oscar acceptance speeches, and in 2012 the actress Meryl Streep jokingly referred to him as “God” onstage.Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, Bob Weinstein called his brother “sick and depraved” and said he had no idea of “the type of predator that he was”.
He refused to comment on reports that he and the board of Weinstein Company were aware of Weinstein’s settlements with women during recent contract negotiations, saying only that the board “did not know the extent of my brother’s actions”.
He went on to call his brother’s apology statement “utter insanity” and a “lame excuse”.
“I’ll tell you what I did know,” he said. “Harvey was a bully, Harvey was arrogant…that I knew”.
Earlier, Bob Weinstein denied media reports that the Weinstein Company – which has placed Harvey Weinstein on indefinite leave – could now be closed or sold.
But several large film projects have been pulled from the company already, and reports in the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal said that financers had begun to pressure the board to sell.
Source: BBC and agencies