EXCLUSIVE: “This response is totally absurd and a total sham,” declares Roman Polanski’s attorney to a court filing from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to end the Oscar winning director’s desire to be reinstated into the organization that tossed him out in 2018.
“The whole thing is a stupid PR stunt by them to look politically correct,” Harland Braun told Deadline today of the latest move against his client following the motion Polanski made in L.A. Superior Court in April.
In the paperwork that the Oscar anointing organization submitted to LASC, AMPAS disagreed and asserted the Chinatown director and admitted rapist of a 13-year old girl in the late 1970s had gone through a “fair and reasonable” process before his announced expulsion on May 3, 2018 – the same day the now imprisoned Bill Cosby also had his membership stripped.
Yet in the matter of being given the membership boot, Polanski’s petition of this spring claimed “the Academy failed to comply with its own rules, policies, and regulations in expelling Petitioner without notice, without an opportunity to be heard and deliberately violated California Corporations Code” in how the member of nearly four decades was shown the door in the #metoo era.
Now Polanski’s legal representative plans on raising the threat level with AMPAS after the somewhat breezy response from their Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan attorneys. A response that wants the whole thing dismissed and contains a potentially ill-considered use of the doctrine of fugitive disentitlement to defang the director’s ability to sue them at all too.
“Basically the answer is a fraud because before they took the original vote they never gave Roman any notice of what the charges where, when the hearing was or when he could present his side,” Braun alleges, noting that vast pile of documentation and other material that was presented on Polanski’s behalf eventually.
“The Academy’s own Bylaws make clear that the Board enjoys broad discretion to expel members for cause and do all other acts necessary or expedient for the administration of the affairs and attainment of the Academy’s mission and purposes,” AMPAS’ attorneys assert in their new filing (read it here). “Moreover, the board has discretion to determine the procedure for a hearing or investigation.”
In their response the Academy also offers a catalogue of material from Polanski that they say they looked at in late 2018. That material includes “a ten-page letter from his lawyer advocating his position, over four hundred pages of supporting documents, a copy of a documentary titled Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, an email from his counsel, and a recorded video statement by Petitioner addressing the Board.”
“All of these materials were presented to the Board of Governors, who voted on January 26, 2019 to uphold Petitioner’s expulsion by a more than two-thirds supermajority,” AMPAS reaction filing stresses.
It is an emphasis that Braun intends to lean on going forward in the matter.
“We’ll be taking depositions against members of the board to see if they read the material we submitted,” he promises in what could be an awkward situation for some
Polanski has been in self-imposed exile in Europe since he fled the U.S. 40 years ago after being convicted in 1978 of raping a then 13-year-old girl. With his French citizenship as a protective shield and the support of a number of prominent producers, studio execs and talent over the years, the Polish-born filmmaker has repeatedly and successfully fought off a slew of bad planned efforts by American officials to bring him back the U.S.A. to face justice.
Closer to home, over the past couple of years, Braun has tried unsuccessfully to convey that Polanski was actually the victim all those decades ago as a result of court misconduct and political corruption back in the 1970s and now. To that end, Braun has pushed for the now 85-year old Polanski to be allowed to return Stateside and to work in Hollywood without fear of further punishment. In January,
As that has been going on, L.A. Country District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office announced in January 2018 that they wouldn’t be bringing charges against Polanski over the alleged rape of a 10-year old in 1975 as the statute of limitations had expired.
Polanski is back in Hollywood in once sense as a fictional version of him and his Manson Family murdered wife Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie, appear in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Brad Pitt and Leo DiCaprio-led Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. The director himself is also searching for a U.S. distributor for his latest film An Officer and a Spy, which is based on the tale of institutional anti-Semitism of the infamous Dreyfus Affair scandal that consumed France in the latter part of the 19th century.
That quest for stateside screens may take even longer than this new-ish court battle for the clearly unrepented Polanski.
Still, even as the director threatened to take AMPAS to court, as he eventually did, the group oddly enough has let six-time nominee and one-time winner Polanski keep his 2003 Oscar for The Pianist – is that an eventual backdoor back in?