Oscar body adopts conduct code as Hollywood reacts to harassment issue

The code of conduct was sent to more than 8,000 members late on Wednesday and to news media on Thursday.

FILE: Preparations take place for the an Oscars ceremony. Picture: Twitter/@Oscar2017s.

LOS ANGELES - The Academy of Motion Pictures, the body that chooses the Oscars, has adopted a code of conduct and warned members it reserves the right to expel any who flout the new rules.

The code of conduct, sent to more than 8,000 members late on Wednesday and to news media on Thursday, follows the Academy’s expulsion in October of film producer Harvey Weinstein in light of accusations of sexual harassment or assault against him by more than 50 women.

Weinstein, who has denied non-consensual sex with anyone, was only the second person in the Academy’s 90-year history to be thrown out. Reuters has not been able to verify the accusations against Weinstein.

The Weinstein allegations have been followed by multiple accusations of sexual harassment or assault against actors, film producers, directors and talent agents that have roiled Hollywood. Prominent figures in media and politics have also faced similar accusations.

Oscar-winner and Academy member Kevin Spacey has apologised for one incident of alleged sexual misconduct but has not addressed accusations by more than 30 other people. He has since been dropped from the Netflix Inc series “House of Cards” and his scenes from upcoming movie “All the Money in the World” were recast. Reuters has not been able to verify the accusations against Spacey.

Wednesday’s letter from Academy Chief Executive Dawn Hudson, which included the code of conduct, also said that a task force set up by the Academy was working on “finalising procedures for handling allegations of misconduct, assuring that we can address them fairly and expeditiously.” Neither the letter nor the code mentioned any names.

It comes six weeks before nominations are announced for the 2018 Oscars, the highest awards in the film industry.

The 2018 Oscars will be handed out at a ceremony in Hollywood on 4 March.

The code of conduct states that “there is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognised standards of decency.”

It said the organisation, made up of the world’s leading actors, filmmakers, and publicists, is “categorically opposed to any form of abuse, harassment or discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, or nationality.

“If any member is found by the Board of Governors to have violated these standards or to have compromised the integrity of the Academy by their actions, the Board of Governors may take any disciplinary action permitted by the Academy’s Bylaws, including suspension or expulsion,” the code says.