US & Canada

Harvey Weinstein: Oscars board expels producer over sexual assault allegations

Weinstein has already been suspended by Bafta Image copyright PA
Image caption Weinstein has already been suspended by Bafta in the UK

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.

Police forces in the US and the UK are investigating the allegations.

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.

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Media captionOn some red carpets, Harvey Weinstein is not a welcome subject

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.

Where does the Academy go from here?

By the BBC's Laura Bicker in Los Angeles

The Academy is trying to send a message that the casting couch culture that has been talked about in this industry for so long is over.

This is a key moment for an industry which stands accused of developing a culture that makes women feel that exploitation is a price to pay to get a job.

But in voting to expel Harvey Weinstein, the Academy has a problem.

If Weinstein is indeed the tip of the iceberg, as many industry insiders have said, what do they do about other members who have been accused of sexual assault, such as Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski? As many people who have spoken to me here have said, the Academy condemnation cannot stop here.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture at the 1999 Oscars

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.

But as accusations against Weinstein began to mount in recent days, film industry heavyweights came out to publicly condemn him and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) suspended his membership.

The French government is reportedly considering revoking his Legion of Honour, France's highest civilian distinction, and there have been calls from some British politicians for his honorary CBE title to be revoked.

'Sick and depraved'

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.

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Media captionIt was "an open secret" a producer tells the BBC

Weinstein has denied allegations of rape detailed in The New Yorker magazine, saying that there were no acts of non-consensual sex.

His wife Georgina Chapman said on Tuesday that she was leaving him.

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