John Bailey was re-elected Academy President, and after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) took up an investigation of sexual harassment claims.
The Academy statement read like this:
John Bailey was re-elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Tuesday night (August 7) by the organization’s Board of Governors.
Also elected to officer positions by the Board:
Lois Burwell, First Vice President (chair, Awards and Events Committee)
Sid Ganis, Vice President (chair, Museum Committee)
Larry Karaszewski, Vice President (chair, Preservation and History Committee)
Nancy Utley, Vice President (chair, Education and Outreach Committee)
Jim Gianopulos, Treasurer (chair, Finance Committee)
David Rubin, Secretary (chair, Membership and Administration Committee)
Bailey is beginning his second term as president and his fifteenth year as a governor representing the Cinematographers Branch. Burwell, Gianopulos, Rubin and Utley were re-elected to their posts. Ganis, who returned to the board this year, served as Academy President from 2005-2009. This will be the first officer stint for Karaszewski.
Bailey is the first cinematographer to hold the position of Academy President. His credits include “Ordinary People,” “American Gigolo,” “The Big Chill,” “Groundhog Day,” “As Good as It Gets,” “The Anniversary Party,” “The Way Way Back” and “A Walk in the Woods.”
Academy board members may serve up to three consecutive three-year terms, while officers serve one-year terms, with a maximum of four consecutive years in any one office.
But the real story was that the famed cinematographer John “I was born a white man” Bailey, who took the place of Cherly Boone-Issacs, (who served well in her time as Academy President, but had to give way to a new person due to the term limits on the job), was the first academy executive to fall under the scrutiny of AMPAS new code of conduct which explains that Academy members may be disciplined or expelled for abuse, harassment or discrimination. According to Variety, three such allegations were made, an investigation commenced in March of this year, 2018, and only one charge was considered “credible” by AMAPAS.
Bailey lawyered up, and then released this statement to the Academy staff:
I have refrained from comment on the various media accounts about me of the past several days because I wanted to allow the Academy process to play out. However, in light of several repeated false stories, I feel compelled to set the record straight with those of you who work side by side with me on behalf of the Academy. The media reports describing multiple complaints made to the Academy about me are false and have served only to tarnish my 50 year career.
The fact that the existence of an allegation even became public thwarts the confidential review process that the Academy adopted and is supposed to follow when receiving complaints.
There was a single named complaint regarding an allegation dating back more than a decade ago in which I am alleged to have to attempted to touch a woman inappropriately while we were both riding in a transport van on a movie set. That did not happen.
I have supported women throughout my career and am heartened by the outpouring of support I have received from numerous women with whom I have worked and supported during my career
While I cannot undo the damage of having a false narrative leaked to the press I expect the committee will undertake its obligation to review this matter faithfully. Because I know the facts, I expect they will conclude that there is no basis to take any action against me. While there have been well documented instances of individuals in this industry not treating women with respect, I am not one of them. I care deeply about women’s issues and support equal treatment and access for all individuals working in this profession. I am proud to serve as President of the Academy and am committed to carrying on the important work the board elected me to do.
That was claim was looked at, and then publicly dismissed by AMPAS.
The Academy issued a statement saying “The Committee unanimously determined that no further action was merited on this matter. The findings and recommendations of the committee were reported to the Board, which endorsed its recommendation. John Bailey remains President of the Academy.”
When Bailey was selected as the new Academy President, many asked out loud and unfairly if a 75-year-old white man could do the job in the new, #MeToo era. Variety asked Bailey the question, and got this understandably testy response: “What you just said is bullshit. I was born a white man, and I can’t help it that I’m 75 years old. Is this some sort of limiting factor?”
No Reaction On Twitter Perhaps Due To The Latestness Of The AMPAS News
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) August 8, 2018
That summed up the range of Twitter and social media reactions to John Bailey’s re-election as AMPAS President. And that may be due to the fact that the press release was issued in the wee hours of the morning on the East Coast – about 12 midnight.
In all, John Bailey had to deal with a firestorm of a first year as AMAPAS President: the accusation of harassment caused him to be kept out of the spotlight. But, that written, Bailey presided over the most incredible addition of women, blacks, and people of color as Academy members in its history.
Perhaps his final year at the helm will be more enjoyable now that he’s re-elected as President, and the controversy is behind him. Considering that Douglas Fairbanks, Frank Capra, Bette Davis, George Stevens, Arthur Freed, Gregory Peck, Robert Wise, Karl Malden Sid Ganis, the late Tom Sherak, and Hawk Koch were all AMPAS Presidents, and white men of over-50 in the age area, to suddenly blast Bailey just for being old and white and male is criminal. Let the man do his job.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media