Kathleen Kennedy calls for ‘zero tolerance’ and Hollywood commission against abuse

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor
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Kathleen Kennedy calls for ‘zero tolerance’ and Hollywood commission against abuse

The leading film producer has already asked the Academy to “take the first steps toward creating this commission”.

Hollywood producer Kathleen Kennedy has called for a commission and a “zero-tolerance” attitude to transform the film industry in order to protect people against sexual harassment.

The LucasFilm president also took aim at “predators” within her industry, who should not be able to rely on their “power or wealth or fame to shield them from the consequences of their actions”.

Her comments came in response to several accusations of sexual harassment from a number of women against producer Harvey Weinstein, who is currently being investigated by the Metropolitan Police over five allegations dating back to the late 1980s.

Harvey Weinstein (John Stillwell/PA)

Speaking at the Elle Women In Hollywood event, Kennedy condemned the “terrible and terrifying” stories about sexual harassment that have come to light over the past week or so, and said there is a growing demand “for action to prevent further civil and human rights abuses in the future”.

“Increased awareness of the belittlement, objectification, and predation long endured by women who work in film will certainly be one result of the exposure of what Harvey Weinstein did and was permitted to do,” she said, adding: “The misogyny that is the context for this inhumanity will continue unless there is decisive, industry-wide institutional response that legislates change rather than hopes for it to happen.”

Kennedy urged Hollywood studios, unions, guilds and talent agencies to “immediately convene a commission charged with the task of developing new, industry-wide protections against sexual harassment and abuse”.

“We must make the film industry an exemplar in this regard, a model for self-regulation that other businesses can emulate,” she  added.

She said “we must act now” and that she believes “the solution would include zero-tolerance policies for abusive behaviour”, along with a “secure, reliable, unimpeachable system” for victims of abuse to report into confidently without risking “their employment, reputations, and careers”.

Kennedy told the audience at the event in Los Angeles that she has asked the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, of which she is a governor, to “take the first steps toward creating this commission”.

Weinstein has been ousted by the Academy, which hosts the Oscars, after the board of governors met to discuss the movie mogul’s future.

The 65-year-old Oscar winner has become only the second person in history to be evicted, and it came after the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) announced it suspended Weinstein’s membership last week.

Two days after the Academy’s decision, the Producers Guild of America also voted unanimously to institute termination proceedings for Weinstein.

The PGA’s National Board of Directors and Officers said Weinstein has an opportunity to respond before a final decision is made on November 6.

Weinstein has been accused of sexual harassment by a number of women in the film industry, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Cara Delevingne, Rose McGowan, Alice Evans and Sophie Dix, and an increasing number of Hollywood stars have condemned his alleged actions.

Harvey Weinstein (Miramax/PRNewswire/PA

Meanwhile, another woman contacted British police on Sunday, claiming Weinstein sexually assaulted her in Westminster in 1992.

Earlier, Scotland Yard confirmed three allegations were made relating to alleged sexual assaults in London in 2010, 2011 and 2015.

This followed another allegation, passed to Scotland Yard detectives by Merseyside Police, relating to an alleged sexual assault in the capital in the late 1980s.

The latest allegations came as more British women came forward saying they were raped by Weinstein, one of whom is Hollyoaks actress Lysette Anthony.

Anthony told the Metropolitan Police she was attacked by the movie mogul in her London home in the late 1980s.

Another unnamed former Miramax employee said Weinstein, who co-founded the film studio in the late 1970s with his brother, raped her in the basement flat of his London offices in around 1992.

Lysette Anthony (Matt Crossick/PA)

The woman, who is granted automatic anonymity as an alleged sex offences victim, said she has only confided in her husband about the attack in recent days.

The alleged victim, who said she chewed raw garlic and wore tatty clothes to repel Weinstein, told The Mail on Sunday: “Even after all these years, I can still wake up screaming.

“I wanted the opportunity to speak out, but I just couldn’t see how.”

The fresh allegations follow several made by actresses in the US against Weinstein – four of rape and more than 30 of sexual harassment – and come after his British wife Georgina Chapman said she was leaving him.

Through his spokeswoman, Weinstein has “unequivocally denied” any allegations of non-consensual sex after three actresses said he had raped them in an article in The New Yorker.