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