Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president John Bailey is reportedly under investigation for sexual harassment, a bombshell revelation that comes just 15 days after the 90th Oscars ceremony.
The Academy received three harassment claims earlier this week and opened an investigation immediately, sources close to the situation told Variety, which first broke the news of the probe today.
AMPAS did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but has just released a statement:
The Academy 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. We will not comment further on such matters until the full review is completed.
Bailey, 75, was voted in as the Academy’s new president in August, replacing Cheryl Boone Isaacs. The longtime AMPAS member had been president of the Cinematographers branch and previously served as a VP. His DP credits include Groundhog Day, American Gigolo, As Good As It Gets and The Kid Stays in the Picture.
In January, the Academy moved forward with a new Standards of Conduct initiative on the heels of expelling Oscar-winning director and AMPAS member Harvey Weinstein. That followed an avalanche of sexual assault and harassment claims exposed in reports in the New York Times and the New Yorker, leading to a wave of claims in all reaches of Hollywood and beyond and the formation of the #MeToo and the #TimesUp movements.
The new AMPAS initiatives include instructions on how individuals may report claims of workplace misconduct in violation of the organization’s standards.
“The Academy’s goal is not to be an investigative body, but rather ensure that when a grievance is made, it will go through a fair and methodical process,” CEO Dawn Hudson wrote at the time. “The process will determine whether a claim will be brought to the Board for possible action regarding membership status.”
Under the newest AMPAS’ standards, such claims would be forwarded by the Membership Department to the Academy’s Membership and Administration Committee, which is headed by David Rubin, who coincidentally ran also ran for president last fall in the election that Bailey won.
After that, “allegations must be substantiated by clear evidence of behavior that violates the Academy’s Standards of Conduct. Such evidence could include “1) the violation was witnessed by another; 2) the violation was reported to another, after the event occurred; 3) the violation was memorialized in writing after the incident occurred; 4) the violation is part of an established pattern by the same member; 5) following the violation, the claimant experienced verifiable changes in their mental, emotional or physical wellbeing.”
If proved true, the standards specify that AMPAS could ” a. Decide to take no action; b. Inform the Board of remedial measures that don’t require Board approval; or c. If the matter is deemed serious enough, refer it to the Board of Governors. Only the Board can make the final determination on whether to suspend or expel a member.”
One of those Board of Governors members who would be part of such a vote is Bailey’s wife, Carol Littleton, from the Film Editors branch. They are the only husband-wife board members in Academy history after founding AMPAS members Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.
If Bailey is expelled, he would be replaced in the line of succession by first VP Lois Burwell, from the Makeup branch, until the next election takes place in August.
Calls and emails to Hudson and Bailey were not immediately returned.
Bailey’s election last summer was somewhat of a surprise given the 7,000-member organization’s efforts to be more inclusive; many members have been pushing for more women and ethnic minorities in AMPAS’ ranks and leadership. It did mark a victory for below-the-line workers in the group, many of whom have been wary of growing attention to high-profile actors and directors.
At the annual Oscar Nominees lunch in February, Bailey told the room that “We are witnessing this venerable Motion Picture Academy reinvent itself before our very eyes.”