In a statement released to the public, the Academy Board of Governors said:
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors met today to discuss the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, and has voted well in excess of the required two-thirds majority to immediately expel him from the Academy.
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.
What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society. The Board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify.
The Academy arrived at their decision after the Board of Governors convened an emergency meeting to discuss the longtime Hollywood producer, who has been accused of sexual harassment and multiple instances of rape by more than 30 women, including actors Rose McGowan, Ashley Judd, and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Tom Hanks, Whoopi Goldberg, Laura Dern, Kimberly Peirce, and Michael Mann are all on the Academy’s Board of Governors, of which only Hanks and Goldberg have added their voices to the backlash against Weinstein.
Weinstein’s brother and business parter, Bob, also urged the Academy to expel him. “I am gonna write a note to them saying he definitely should be kicked out of the Academy,” he told the Hollywood Reporter, calling his brother “sick and depraved.”
The 90-year-old organization previously denounced Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct and abuses, calling them “repugnant, abhorrent, and antithetical to the high standards of the Academy and the creative community it represents,” although it has notably never commented on the sexual abuse allegations against Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski, who are still among its membership.
“The Academy has suspended membership in the past,” a spokesperson for the organization told BuzzFeed News, without further explanation. It’s unclear whose membership has been rescinded and the circumstances that prompted expulsion. (Last year the Academy introduced a series of changes that relegated inactive members to “emeritus status,” which stripped them of the right to vote for awards like the Oscars. Though the move was to help diversify its voting body and, ultimately, future Oscar nominations, many long-time members objected to the move.)
You belong in Agrabah! There, you would live the life of a poor but carefree street rat, before finding out that you were actually a long-lost member of the sultan’s family. You’d also get a magic carpet and a tiger, obviously.
You belong in Beauty and the Beast! You’d stumble upon the Beast’s castle, but rather than reverse the spell, you’d use your own knowledge of sorcery to keep the Beast as-is, because…he’s kinda hotter that way, honestly? Oh, and Lumière is staying as a candle until he can learn to stop sexually harassing the maid.
You belong in Motunui! Unlike Moana herself, you wouldn’t go off on really dangerous adventures…rather, you’d live a lovely, quiet life on a gorgeous island and go on the occasional short sailing excursion.
You belong in the kingdom of Corona from Tangled! There, you would discover that you’re also a long-lost princess with magical hair, except your hair doesn’t heal mortal wounds…it just gives people, like, really clear skin. But there’s definitely a market for that, you know?
The upcoming film Marshall is set in 1941, two decades before Thurgood Marshall became the first black Supreme Court justice. It follows Marshall (Chadwick Boseman) as he’s tasked by the NAACP with representing Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown), a black chauffeur accused of raping and attempting to murder Eleanor Strubing (Kate Hudson), the wife of his employer. But the judge (James Cromwell) refuses to let Marshall speak for his client — literally. With Marshall’s voice stifled under the court’s threat of perjury, the task of keeping Spell out of jail falls to Sam Friedman (Josh Gad), a local insurance lawyer.
Despite the fact that Marshall is set more than 75 years ago, its explorations of racism, anti-Semitism, and domestic violence are still incredibly relevant. “I feel like we can fool ourselves sometimes into thinking we’ve gotten past certain issues, but the time has brought to the surface the level of ignorance and bigotry that exists currently within this country and within the world,” Brown said during a conversation with Boseman and Gad at BuzzFeed’s New York offices in late September. ”The film taking place in 1941 feels, in a strange way, contemporaneous, and for me, I think the next four years will be a time in which films like ours are going to help shine a light on the fact your shit stinks.”
Below is a conversation between Boseman, Brown, and Gad, in which they address social media’s impact on social justice, the responsibility they feel in Hollywood, and much more.
This interview has been edited for clarity and condensed.
I hesitate to use the word “glad,” but are any of you glad that this movie is coming out at this moment in American history?
Chadwick Boseman: The producers wanted it to come out last year. They wanted it to be shown at the Obama White House. I think things happen the way they’re supposed to happen. There’s no way of predicting the way people are going to interpret it, but the one thing I will say is, when people watch the news, there is a sense of anxiety and hopelessness. I feel like what this movie brings to the table is, Okay, we have been in these dark waters before and this is how we got out of them. We have been on the precipice of war before, just like in this movie, and we made it through by making those alliances, [by] seeking the truth. I think this movie is a light to that, and hopefully people see that.
Sterling K. Brown: I feel like we can fool ourselves sometimes into thinking we’ve gotten past certain issues, but the time has brought to the surface the level of ignorance and bigotry that exists currently within this country and within the world. The film taking place in 1941 feels, in a strange way, contemporaneous, and for me, I think the next four years will be a time in which films like ours are going to help shine a light on the fact your shit stinks.
CB: And it’s been stinking for a long time.
SKB: A long, long time.
CB: Yeah, I’m not glad that it’s happening during this time, but I’m glad that at a time like this, we have this [film] to present.
Josh Gad: I remember while we were filming discussing Ferguson a lot. Which was still relatively close, in proximity, to when we made the movie, and we all sort of saw a relevance in the film as it pertained to that event. Then something like Charlottesville happens and there’s a whole different context to put it in. Unfortunately, I don’t think it mattered when this movie came out, because these issues have clearly not been resolved. They’re clearly ongoing and uglier than ever. There’s just a new platform for it, and I think that, yes, it has a certain urgency that maybe it didn’t necessarily have before, but that message will only get more and more urgent. I hope this film exists outside an echo chamber and is a celebration of these men and the work that they were willing to do when it was not in their own best interest to do that work. And a message of hope. The NAACP was busy then, they’re as busy as they’ve ever been now, and their work continues to go on. To celebrate their efforts is also one of the great thrills of this movie because they’re working overtime now.
Social media has been instrumental in taking what are sometimes local stories and making them global issues. How important has social media been to social justice?
JG: I think it cuts both ways. I think it’s a very useful tool in terms of calling out things like bigotry and supremacy, but I think it’s also a platform for bigots and supremacists. It’s amazing because it’s instantaneous, it’s an opportunity to present your opinion, especially in the case of Twitter’s very direct manner, but that directness comes at a cost. And the problem is people speak in their respective echo chambers. You have the people who need to hear the message on one side not necessarily hearing it because their followers or the people they follow are all essentially patting each other on the back with the same message. I think it is an effective tool, but it’s just that — and like any tool, it can be a wonderful thing or it can be easily taken advantage of.
SKB: Agreed. You wind up preaching to the choir in both situations and the people you want to hear the message on the opposite side don’t necessarily hear it — or if they do, they just say, “It’s more of the same liberal thing you’re always pushing.”
CB: Previous to having such a strong voice through social media, protests would be covered in a one-sided way. I think because now social media has such a strong impact, it forces all of the major media groups to consider what is going to be said on the other side. Are people going to say we purposefully did not cover this? Even though I agree with everything said, I think it had to continue to be used as a tool so you can’t have all the news stations only showing it from one side.
“So much of being black in America is a matter of survival. If you are able to make it to a certain age — 40, 50, 60 — it’s achieving in spite of, rather than because of.”
Josh, your character starts off trying to abandon Spell’s case so he can maintain his fragile status quo but ends up becoming a much more conscientious person by the end. What appealed to you about Friedman?
JG: I think that the message is as relevant today as it, unfortunately, was in 1940. Reggie Hudlin, our brilliant director, made a comment yesterday that I thought was really apropos. It’s a movie that is also about alliances. Alliances in times like the one that’s represented in the film are so essential because you can’t fight without having people of like minds willing to take the chance despite all the adversity. That to me was really important.
This movie essentially is a superhero origin film, which I thought was fascinating. And it’s a real-life superhero. It’s [Marshall] who is out there without a cape but in a suit and tie, going from state to state facing the barrels of shotguns and willing to do the right thing, willing to say the right thing, willing to put his money where his mouth is and willing to fight for others to get to the same place he’s at — that woke place. And Sam Friedman is one of those people who’s awakened by this incredible legal mind and is willing to take the leap, despite his hesitations, despite the fact he knows there will be consequences.
All of those issues really spoke to me, and at the time we made it, Marshall had a certain relevance, and now in 2017, it’s taken on a whole different relevance. I don’t think any of us understood where things were necessarily headed, but it’s a testament to the fact that this piece we’ve done, despite the fact it takes place over 50 years ago, is as relevant today as it would have been then.
Towards the end of the film, Spell reveals the truth about what happened between him and Eleanor Strubing. He explains that the reason he lied about their consensual relationship is because that truth could have gotten him killed just as easily. Sterling, what went through your mind when you got to that part of the script?
SKB: So much of being black in America is a matter of survival. If you are able to make it to a certain age — 40, 50, 60 — it’s achieving in spite of, rather than because of. You are warring against institutions that are not out for your best interest. Miscegenation in parts of the country was a crime and sometimes punishable by death, and even if it wasn’t on the books, unofficially it was punishable by death. The idea of interacting with a white woman in the first place was something he knew was dangerous, so the fact this man put himself in a position where he was intimate with someone, he knew that was a bad, bad thing. So now what do I do? This woman has falsely accused me of something I didn’t commit, so now I’m sitting here in a jail cell — but what’s the alternative? Do I admit that I actually did what I did and be free where people can have easy access to me or do I just ride this time out? There’s no good thing. But I will say that Thurgood is able to make him understand that freedom has a cost and it means you have to put yourself in a position sometimes of being hurt.
Throughout the movie, it’s revealed that the judge and the prosecutor would strike unflattering comments from the record — which was openly happening at the time. It demonstrates the broken bedrock our criminal justice system is built upon. Why is it important to show that people were and are fighting a system that wasn’t designed, from the beginning, to benefit them?
CB: The law in our country is based on precedent. Precedent is set in one case and then used in another case and another case and another; and precedent has been set, in some cases, to keep prejudice alive. That is, to me, the beauty and the strength of Thurgood Marshall. Not only did he fight things as an attorney on the lower courts, but he lost in order to get cases to the higher court. Then he became a judge, and by becoming a judge, you now get to not only interpret law, change law, fight law, but you get to make law, so it can trickle back down and be corrected. That, to me, is why you do this movie, because Thurgood Marshall worked on every end of that spectrum that before had only worked against people that didn’t have a voice.
“You step in the shoes of someone who has done something incredible … and it becomes a part of you.”
The end of the film includes a real quote from Marshall where he says he’s not trying to put out fires, he’s chasing fire itself. Do you feel that encapsulates Marshall’s mission?
JG: It’s beyond significant. I hope it inspires a new generation of activism and of people who are willing to take on that fight, because going after fire itself requires a lot of sacrifice. It requires a lot of yourself. This brilliant legal mind is essentially muted, but he’s still able to create others in his image who are willing to take on the fight.
SKB: It inspires me. When I think about someone who had the legal mind and the ability to go out and protect these men, to defend these men at the risk of his own life, it makes me ask today, in 2017, now that I have a platform, how do I use my voice to try to move the needle? You forget that one man can really and truly make a difference, and the movie illuminates that in the most beautiful way.
SKB: It means the world to me. Somebody was giving me a statistic that in the majority of the country, most people live in very insular circumstances where the majority of the people they interact with are of the same race as themselves. So when you have a chance to go into people’s homes on a weekly basis and share with them a human being they may not get to see with regularity and show his humanity, hopefully they can recognize, “Hey, that guy is like me.” I’ve had multiple instances, and they’ve become less and less as people know who I am, but where people cross the street or clutch their purse a little tighter. Maybe if you recognize humanity in all forms, then preconceived notions of who you think someone is can change. Little by little.
I would imagine there’s a different degree of responsibility involved when you play a real person. Chadwick, why do you think that’s something you’ve repeatedly been attracted to?
CB: You step in the shoes of someone who has done something incredible and you start to feel certain things that they feel and it becomes a part of you, essentially. If I only live my life, that’s one thing; but if for a second I can feel a little bit of what made this person great, what does that do to me? What comes from that experiment? That’s what it is: having the opportunity to, for a second, live a different life and grow from it in a way you can’t do with your own.
Josh, you’ve talked about the sick kids you call as Olaf. Does knowing how important this character is to so many children raise the bar for what deems a sequel worthy of making?
JG: John Lasseter, who is in charge of both Pixar and Disney Animation, is such a perfectionist, he never wants to do anything unless it’s worthy of continuing the story. Frozen 2 wasn’t something that was just hatched because the first one was successful. It was because there was more story to tell. It’s scary. You create characters that are indelible and then you have to keep telling their stories, and it is that thing where people loved it first time out of the gate, how do I make sure to keep the audience excited and engaged so it doesn’t just become a rehash of their same expectations? That to me is part of the fun of what we get to do.
“I want to see a diverse enough landscape where everybody gets a chance to shine.”
Chadwick, there are obviously a lot of expectations that come along with playing Black Panther, so what was it like to be at Comic-Con and hear everyone lose their minds when they saw the first trailer?
CB: Oh man, people were crying. I started crying. I think I was the only person up there, other than Ryan [Coogler, director], who had seen pieces of it — and [Marvel president Kevin] Feige, of course. I knew when we were watching it that nobody knew Kendrick [Lamar’s song “DNA”] was gonna come in and it had already completely slayed everybody before it got to that! Everybody was losing their minds, and I was like, “They don’t even know this music is about to drop right now!” The first time I ever heard Kendrick’s song, I said, “They’re going to use that in the trailer.” I knew it. So when it was about to come in, I said, “Watch this.” And it was literally like pandemonium. As soon as that song came in, it was a wave of energy! People were crying. I was like, “This is like a Michael Jackson concert.” Literally.
What goes through your mind when you see that reaction?
CB: I hope the movie lives up to it! [laughs]
Sterling, Hollywood loves the “overnight success story” narrative, but you’ve worked very hard in a lot of thankless roles to get where you are now. Does that make what’s happening even richer, since you know what the other side of that coin looks like?
SKB: I would say so. I look at people who get theirs early on in life; can they truly have the appreciation for it? Some do. But that was not my story. For 15 years or so, it was toiling away in obscurity, hoping that a costar could turn into a guest star could turn into a recurring could turn into possibly a series regular. This moment is really lovely. The level of talent I get to work with now, the opportunities that are coming my way are really nice. Before, I was on the outside looking in like, “Oh man, I know Chad’s gonna get that. It’ll be cool.” Or “I know [Anthony] Mackie’s gonna get it.” You know what I’m saying? Whoever the person was — Idris [Elba] — but now it’s like, “I may be able to get a shot at this joint!” It’s good, it’s really great, and I think because of the beginning, I’m never in worry of my feet floating off the ground, because it’s easy come, easy go. I want to see a diverse enough landscape where everybody gets a chance to shine, everybody gets a chance to eat, and not just a tasty side dish, but folks are getting some meat and potatoes in their bodies and contributing to the conversation and putting characters into the world of substance that are complicated, that are intriguing, that everybody gets a chance to see a reflection of themselves on the big screen.
Like, when you talk about the Panther, when I saw that trailer, I was like, “Oh, damn” — and I read the script! I read it, I have a small part, I’m in it too, but it’s like, “I can’t wait for this joint.” This is gonna be hot.
CB: I’ve had that similar feeling of being on the outside looking in and seeing over a period of time how the industry has changed and what opportunities for people of color have presented themselves. That [Brown] and I can actually be in this movie together, whereas there was a period of time where it would only be one person. And we know who that one person is. It’d be Denzel [Washington] in this movie, it’d be [Laurence] Fishburne in that movie, Sam Jackson in that movie, and Morgan Freeman in this one. It’s very few opportunities like Glory where you would see them — Mo’ Better Blues, you have Denzel and Wesley [Snipes] — working together. I feel blessed to be in a time where I can do this movie with him … and I can do a movie with Michael B. Jordan and it’s okay. It doesn’t even have to be such a big deal, because the opportunities are not so scarce. And that’s an important moment to note.
You have people, and you know exactly who I’m talking about, they hope you do bad because they want your spot. Not knowing that your spot was never for them in the first place. They have a spot, and if they do the things to get to their spot, they’ll have their spot. And it’s just as good as mine. Just to have that sort of sense that it’s a shift, and I can appreciate [Brown] and I can appreciate Michael and I can appreciate David [Oyelowo] and I can appreciate … Idris and appreciate their work and love their work and not feel this competition. I mean, we’re always going to compete, but competition in a healthy way. I love that. I think some people don’t know we’ve gotten to that point, so I’m saying it out loud. And it’s important to note because that determines how you proceed. If you’re proceeding in the wrong way, therefore you’re going down the wrong avenue, and if you just do your lane, you’ll get to your thing.
Jarett Wieselman is a senior entertainment editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. Wieselman writes about and reports on the television industry.
Hours after the Hollywood Reporter published a story about Amazon Studios’ Roy Price allegedly sexually harassing a producer of one of the streamer’s shows, Price has been put on leave. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed the news to BuzzFeed News: “Roy Price is on leave of absence effective immediately. We are reviewing our options for the projects we have with The Weinstein Company.” Variety was the first to report Price’s suspension.
A report that Price had been investigated by Amazon for “unwanted sexual remarks” toward Isa Hackett, a producer of The Man in the High Castle, was first reported by Kim Masters in late August in the Information. But the story got little pickup then. Then earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal wrote a devastating analysis of why the company is failing in the original content business, revealing that the company had passed on The Handmaid’s Tale (which went to Hulu and won many Emmy awards) and Big Little Lies (which went to HBO and also dominated the Emmys). The shows the streaming service has picked up have barely made a cultural impact, other than Transparent, which has won several Emmys and attracted buzz during its first few seasons.
In the wake of the investigative stories about Harvey Weinstein in the New York Times and New Yorker, revealing allegations of sexual harassment and assault, Hackett felt further emboldened, and talked to Masters again for a story in the Hollywood Reporter. Hackett is the daughter of Philip K. Dick, whose work provides the source material for The Man in the High Castle, and when she and Price were at Comic-Con in San Diego in 2015, he propositioned her. “You will love my dick,” Hackett said Price told her in a cab.
Price’s attorney Charles Harder did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for a comment about Price’s suspension and Hackett’s allegations.
Kate Aurthur is the chief Los Angeles correspondent for BuzzFeed News. Aurthur covers the television and film industries.
Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment by numerous women over the course of the past week. At 65, one of the best-known Hollywood producers has now fallen after reports from the New York Times and the New Yorker that reveal years of alleged misconduct. Several of his victims are French, such as Judith Godrèche, Emma de Caunes, and Léa Seydoux. “We were talking on the sofa when he suddenly jumped on me and tried to kiss me. I had to defend myself. He’s tall, and fat, so I had to resist vigorously. I left, completely disgusted,” Seydoux told The Guardian.
Weinstein was fired by his production company, The Weinstein Company, and was also suspended from the British Academy of Film, which hands out the prestigious BAFTA awards each year, due to his “unacceptable” behavior. But can he lose his Legion of Honour, the highest French order?
For Sarkozy, it was a gesture to pay tribute to the work of Weinstein, who in 1979, had co-founded the Miramax company, and then The Weinstein Company in 2005. Among the feature films he produced are Pulp Fiction (1994), Shakespeare in Love (1998), and The King’s Speech (2010).
“The prestigious distinction, that I give to you in person, is a testament to the admiration of millions of French citizens for the exceptional quality of the films you have produced.
I would like to express my appreciation to you. You have always demonstrated a deep friendship for our country and our cinema that you have introduced to so many Americans.”
Considering the scandals that are tarnishing the producer, can his Legion of Honour, that being the highest French distinction, be taken from him?
On its website, the Grand Chancellery of the Legion of Honour explains in fact that the distinction can be removed in the case of a criminal conviction and when the recipient has committed acts “contrary to honor,” or detrimental to the interests of France. It explains also that the exclusionary act is announced by decree.
Weinstein was fired by his company (after a decision from its board of directors), but no complaint has been filed against him yet. On Thursday, the New York Police Department opened an inquiry on a potential sexual assault from 2004. But for now, Weinstein has not been criminally convicted.
“The general rule is to wait for a final criminal decision before starting a disciplinary procedure,” explains the Chancellery to BuzzFeed News. It adds:
“This procedure involves the Grand Chancellor and council of the Order of the Legion of Honour, as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the President of the Republic, Grand Master of the Legion of Honour.”
Can the Legion of Honour therefore be taken from him for having harmed the honor? On this, the Chancellery explains:
“Regarding acts contrary to honor, this is generally done on a case-by-case basis. But at this time, it is too early to know what will happen. It is not a decision to be taken spontaneously. We have to leave time to see things more clearly.”
When contacted by BuzzFeed News, the Ministry of Culture indicated that they “followed the matter at this time without being able to provide information.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not yet responded, nor has the President’s cabinet. As for Sarkozy’s cabinet, it indicated to BuzzFeed News that the former head of state could not respond.
If the Legion of Honour was to be taken from the fallen Hollywood tycoon, this would not be the first time. In 2014, cyclist Lance Armstrong was deprived of his distinction (received in 2005) for “failure contrary to honor,” after being convicted of doping. British designer John Galliano also lost his Legion of Honour in 2012 (he had received it in 2009) after being condemned for anti-Semitic insults in 2011.
Representatives for Amazon Studios and Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Harvey Weinstein’s representative, Sallie Hofmeister, told BuzzFeed News “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.”
And Lisa Bloom, who until recently represented Price, told BuzzFeed News her “representation of Roy Price has concluded.” Bloom had also been advising Weinstein before she quit on Saturday.
In the New York Times story last week exposing Weinstein for alleged sexual harassment spanning decades, the Times also reported that McGowan had settled with Weinstein for $100,000 after an “after an episode in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival” when she was 23.
In Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker investigation of Weinstein, three women — two of whom were on the record, and one who was anonymous — alleged the studio mogul had raped them. Weinstein has consistently denied he has raped anyone.
McGowan has been on a tear on Twitter since the Times story posted a week ago, speaking out against Weinstein and those she perceives have colluded with him. She has started a petition demanding that The Weinstein Company board be dissolved. “Every man there has the blood of sorrow on their hands,” she tweeted on Tuesday. She also called out Ben Affleck after he made his statement about Weinstein.
McGowan’s target on Thursday was Amazon Studios. Earlier this year, McGowan was writing a script for Amazon about her childhood growing up in the Children of God cult. But Amazon Studios has made a number of television deals with The Weinstein Company, including the high-profile television series The Romanoffs by Matthew Weiner and David O. Russell’s untitled series, the sum of which McGowan called a “Weinstein bailout” on Twitter, and said she tried to nullify her script deal with the company when she learned of the projects, only to be told her show “was dead.” On Wednesday, a representative for Amazon said in a statement, “We are reviewing our options for the projects we have with The Weinstein Company.”
According a story by Kim Masters in August, Amazon investigated Price for making “unwanted sexual remarks to Isa Hackett,” a producer of The Man in the High Castle and the daughter of Philip K. Dick, upon whose novel the show is based. And in an interview with Hackett published Thursday, the producer told Masters she felt emboldened by the Weinstein revelations to come forward.
Despite McGowan’s outspoken activism on Twitter — which even got her temporarily suspended from the service Wednesday night for including a screenshot that had a phone number in it — she has not explicitly named Weinstein as her rapist, and this, using his initials and association with The Weinstein Company, is the closest she’s come.
In Farrow’s the New Yorker story, he wrote that one actor had been interviewed on the record, but later had to withdraw: “The legal angle is coming at me and I have no recourse,” she told him. A HuffPost story Wednesday about why NBC News didn’t run Farrow’s story identified that person as McGowan.
In a 2015 profile of McGowan, BuzzFeed News asked her about Weinstein after she revealed she had been raped, and had been “blacklisted” by someone powerful in the film industry. McGowan, without naming Weinstein, said in response: “There’s a lot of people that don’t deserve to be alive — put it that way. There’s a lot of people who also get the face and body they deserve.
Kate Aurthur is the chief Los Angeles correspondent for BuzzFeed News. Aurthur covers the television and film industries.