The last thing Hollywood needs is another high-profile scandal. Unfortunately, this is exactly what recently landed at the doorstep of a once respected institution.
The president of the Motion Picture Academy, who was at the organization’s helm in the midst of the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct disclosures, is himself now the subject of an investigation involving multiple accusations of sexual harassment.
According to Variety, John Bailey, the president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, is under investigation for sexual harassment allegations. The probe was launched after the Academy received three separate claims of impropriety.
For months the entertainment industry has been in deep distress as a result of the numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, which were revealed in reports in outlets such as the New York Times and the New Yorker.
As a means of responding, Hollywood set up a sexual harassment commission and embraced the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
The revelation involving the head of the Academy comes right on the heels of the immensely unentertaining 90th Academy Awards ceremony, which is now infamous for garnering the most disastrous ratings in the show’s history.
Bailey, a cinematographer and film director, is best known for collaborating with big-name film directors including Paul Schrader, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Apted. His list of film credits includes “The Big Chill,” “Ordinary People,” “American Gigolo,” “As Good As It Gets,” and “Groundhog Day.” In 2015 he was awarded the American Society of Cinematographers Lifetime Achievement Award.
The longtime Academy member was elected to the post of Academy president in August 2017 and had previously been president of the Cinematographers branch. During Bailey’s tenure, the Academy voted to revoke Weinstein’s membership just days after the first reports of sexual misconduct surfaced.
The choice of Bailey raised the eyebrows of some high-profile liberals in the entertainment industry, particularly because vociferous Academy members had been pushing for, among other things, a more inclusive Oscar organization.
Consequently, the then-newly elected 75-year-old Caucasian male president received a substantial degree of disapproval over his age as well as his skin color.
At the time Bailey told Variety, “What you just said is [expletive],” adding, “I was born a white man, and I can’t help it that I’m 75 years old. Is this some sort of limiting factor?”
Under Bailey’s leadership, the Academy established a new code of conduct, which provides for disciplining or expelling members over abuse, harassment, or discrimination and also sets up procedures by which such accusations can be adjudicated administratively.
Such claims are to be forwarded by the Membership Department to the Academy’s Membership and Administration Committee, a committee currently led by David Rubin.
If the allegations are deemed to be credible and serious, the matter is sent to the Board of Governors, which then determines whether to suspend or expel the member, in this case, Bailey.
One of the members of the Board of Governors happens to be Bailey’s wife, Carol Littleton, who presumably would have to recuse herself from the proceedings.
If Bailey were ultimately suspended or removed due to the investigation and adjudication, he would be replaced by Academy first vice president and makeup artist Lois Burwell.
A couple of weeks ago Bailey told the annual luncheon for Oscar nominees that the “fossilized bedrock” of Hollywood would be “jack-hammered into oblivion.”
The claims against the Academy president, the subsequent investigation, and adjudication are occurring at a most inopportune time, especially when one factors in the omnipresence of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
Any due process Bailey might receive is jeopardized by the profound embarrassment that plagues Hollywood elites over their roles in the ongoing scandal.