LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled producer Harvey Weinstein on Saturday, after allegations that he sexually harassed or assaulted a number of women over the past three decades, a sharp smack for a Hollywood mogul known for powering a string of films to Oscar gold.
The academy said in a statement that its 54-member board of governors “voted well in excess of the required two-thirds majority to immediately expel him from the Academy.”
A representative for Weinstein, Sallie Hofmeister, had no immediate comment.
The expulsion from the film industry’s most prestigious organization follows allegations reported by The New York Times and The New Yorker from a number of women that Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them in incidents dating back to the 1980s, including three who said they had been raped.
Reuters has been unable to independently confirm any of the allegations. Weinstein, 65, has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone.
For Weinstein, who made a name for himself and his studio with the critical and commercial success of a number of small-budget independent films, the expulsion was just the latest fallout - both professional and personal - from allegations that have rocked an industry that has often looked the other way when confronted by reports of sexual misconduct.
In announcing the decision to oust Weinstein, the academy said it was also telegraphing a broader goal.
“We do so 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 willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over,” the academy said.
“What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society,” it said. “The board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify.”
The New York Police Department said this week it was investigating an allegation of sexual assault from 2004 against Weinstein.
His accusers included the actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who told The New York Times that she was sexually harassed by Weinstein more than 20 years ago, and actress and director Angelina Jolie, who told the publication that she “had a bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth and as a result chose never to work with him again.”
The academy’s board gathered on Saturday to discuss the allegations against Weinstein and his inclusion in the organization, which comprises 8,000 people from the film industry and invites members to join based on their contributions to film. Governors include such luminaries as director Steven Spielberg and actors Tom Hanks, Laura Dern and Whoopi Goldberg.
Weinstein is a member of the executives’ branch of the academy and is also a member of the Producers Guild of America. The PGA board is to meet on Monday to discuss whether to begin disciplinary proceedings against Weinstein, who would have 15 days to respond to any decision by the board, including an expulsion.
While Weinstein has driven numerous films to success at the Academy Awards over two decades, he has only won one Oscar himself, for producing best picture winner “Shakespeare in Love” in 1999.
The fallout from the allegations has been swift for Weinstein. He was fired at the beginning of this week from The Weinstein Co, the independent studio he co-founded in 2005 with his brother Bob Weinstein.
A spokesman for The Weinstein Co, in an email, cited Bob Weinstein’s interview published on Saturday with The Hollywood Reporter, in which he said the academy should expel his brother. Bob Weinstein said he was aware of his brother’s marital infidelities, but said he had no idea about “the type of predator that he was,” according to the industry publication.
Hachette Book Group, the U.S. publishing house of French group Lagardere, terminated the Weinstein Books imprint on Thursday. People magazine reported on Tuesday that Weinstein’s wife, Marchesa label fashion designer Georgina Chapman, was leaving him.
France has started the process of stripping Weinstein of his Legion of Honor, France’s highest civilian distinction, President Emmanuel Macron’s office said on Saturday.
Also this week, Weinstein was suspended from the British film academy BAFTA.
Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy, Ben Klayman and Mary Milliken; Editing by Leslie Adler