Hollywood has been lecturing America about gender equality and sexual harassment for months, even as the worst examples of those problems have come from their own ranks.
At the Academy Awards this month, there was plenty of self-congratulation and virtue signaling as those who attended made a spectacle of acknowledging the issue. However, we now know that the man who led the #MeToo charge at the Oscars was among its worst offenders.
John Bailey, who serves as the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, now stands accused of sexual harassment. Under Bailey’s leadership, the Academy chose to make this year’s ceremony all about rising above the scandal.
Two weeks after the 90th Oscars and in the midst of Hollywood’s sexual harassment reckoning, the head of the Academy is under investigation.
According to Variety, which first broke the story, and The Hollywood Reporter, on Wednesday three complaints were lodged against John Bailey, the current president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The allegations accuse Bailey, 75, a veteran cinematographer (The Big Chill, American Gigolo) of sexual harassment. The Academy immediately opened a probe.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, the Academy did not specify allegations against Bailey, stating only that the governing body “treats any complaints confidentially to protect all parties. The Membership Committee reviews all complaints brought against Academy members according to our Standards of Conduct process, and after completing reviews, reports to the Board of Governors.”
The Academy stated there will be no further comment until “the full review is completed.”
No timeline for the review was given.
If the allegations are found to be true, it would be yet another example of Hollywood hypocrisy on the issue, inflaming a scandal just as the industry appeared to be getting past it.
Bailey was elected to his position in August. Variety reports if he were forced to step down, he would be temporarily replaced by Lois Burwell, a veteran makeup artist who is the Academy’s vice president, until the next election in July.
In January, the Academy released new procedures for handling complaints and evaluating its membership. In an email to members, Academy CEO Dawn Hudson stated the group won’t “initiate” investigations, but “substantiated” claims will looked into.
Ultimately, the governing body will decide whether to take no action or notify the member in question, giving the person a 10-day window to respond.
“There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency,” wrote Hudson at the time.
Members who violate the Academy’s new code of conduct may be subject to disciplinary action “including suspension or expulsion.”
Bailey himself was speaking out about harassment before the Oscars, claiming that Hollywood was leading the way in ending harassment and achieving equality.
Last month at the Oscars luncheon, Bailey gave a much-applauded speech on how the industry is witnessing the Academy “reinvent itself in front of our very eyes, and a greater awareness and responsibility in balancing gender, race, ethnicity and religion.”
“The fossilized bedrock of many of Hollywood’s worst abuses are being jackhammered into oblivion,” he said. “Nowhere is this being made clearer than in the richness and freshness of many of this year’s nominated artists and films.”
Hollywood has been reeling in the midst of the Me Too and Time’s Up movements since the Harvey Weinstein allegations went public last fall. With accounts of sexual harassment and rape multiplying against the embattled movie mogul, the Academy unceremoniously kicked Weinstein out of its prestigious film group in October.
Allegations of sexual misconduct have subsequently risen against more than 50 powerful men in the entertainment industry, including bold-faced names like Kevin Spacey, Russell Simmons and Steven Seagal.
The fallout has been massive. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office set up a special unit to investigate criminal behavior in the industry; heads of companies have stepped away, showrunners have been fired. A USA TODAY study, the first of its kind in the industry, found that 94% of women who work in Hollywood have experienced sexual harassment.
Post your thoughts in the comments section below on the #MeToo allegations against the Academy president. In addition, share this on social media.