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How Will the Film Academy Respond to the Harvey Weinstein Scandal?

UPDATE: The Academy has issued a statement, calling the allegations against Weinstein “repugnant” and “abhorrent,” as well as announcing an emergency meeting to determine his fate with the organization on Saturday, Oct. 14.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal, one of the biggest stories to ever rock Hollywood, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may soon be forced to react in some way.

Could the group move to oust the disgraced movie mogul from the organization, as Tina Brown suggested Tuesday in a tweet? “Growing lobby to kick Harvey out of Academy,” she wrote. “Honor the brave women who spoke and do it!”

Or, might the Academy consider stripping Weinstein of the Oscar he personally won in 1999 as producer of best picture victor “Shakespeare in Love?”

No doubt to the organization’s chagrin, Oscar season has become synonymous with Weinstein and his companys’ many nominations and wins stretching back decades for films that also include “The English Patient,” “Chicago,” “The King’s Speech,” and “The Artist.” He has been thanked dozens of times on Hollywood’s biggest night, by everyone from Billy Bob Thornton to Ennio Morricone.

So far, there’s is no evidence that the Academy is currently considering either taking away his honors or kicking him out. A rep for the Academy had no comment at this time.

If you consider his campaign tactics, Weinstein has been a thorn in the Academy’s side for decades. “I would credit the whole existence of campaign regulations, in large part, to stuff he was initiating,” one insider says. “They were definitely responding to things he was doing.”

In fact, Weinstein’s Oscar for “Shakespeare” precipitated one rule shift nearly two decades ago. Five winning producers ascended the stairs of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage — too many, in the Academy’s view. So a rule (later loosened) that only three producers could be named on the best picture ballot was put into place. Many at the time also felt Weinstein was not a true producer of the film and had simply slapped his name on it in order to reap the Oscar.

But what recourse would truly be available to the Academy, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year?

The Oscar statue Weinstein won is his property, but per Academy regulations, he cannot sell it to a third party without first offering to sell it back to the institution for one dollar. So there might be wiggle room. Even if the organization didn’t take the physical Oscar, internally, it could expunge Weinstein’s win and nominations for “Shakespeare” and for “Gangs of New York” from the record. That has certainly been done in the past for nominees and winners who violated rules and regulations.

Stripping his membership would be a viable move, particularly as there is no love lost between Weinstein and the Academy. “He’s never been an insider with them,” one member says. “They’ve never really liked him.”

At the same time, this is an organization that still counts Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski among its ranks. And the Academy has never really looked at any one member’s moral or criminal history, I’m told. So if the banishment string is pulled, there will be others left dangling.

The British Academy suspended Weinstein Wednesday morning, calling his alleged behavior “completely unacceptable and incompatible with BAFTA’s values.”

Weinstein is a member of the Academy’s executives branch. Reached Tuesday, branch governor Bill Mechanic said he had not heard of any such internal lobby. “If there’s a movement afoot it hasn’t gotten to me,” he said. Two others on the board said the same thing, however, other board members are reportedly considering it.

All of this would clearly be uncharted territory for the Academy, but the organization has waded into its share of bold new waters as of late. Not to mention, there are more women on the board now than ever. They could be quite vocal, joining a chorus that becomes more deafening with each new revelation about Weinstein.

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