In 2022, the Oscars made headlines for an unexpected incident involving Will Smith and Chris Rock. As Smith crossed the stage of the Dolby Theater, he accidentally brushed against Rock’s face, causing a momentary commotion.
But this incident also brought attention to the Hollywood Academy’s criteria for vetoing an artist. For nearly a century, the Oscars have been the ultimate goal for filmmakers, representing the highest level of recognition within the film industry. However, the road to an Oscar is not always a smooth one, as the Academy’s selection process is known to be heavily influenced by politicking.
While it’s not a common occurrence, there have been instances where certain stars have managed to attract so much negative attention that the Academy has banned them from attending the Oscar ceremonies. At Gazettely, we’re taking a look back at some of the notable names who have found themselves on the Academy’s banned list.
6- Harvey Weinstein
Once a towering figure in Hollywood, Harvey Weinstein was a household name when it came to the Academy Awards and was considered one of the industry’s most successful producers. He was a force to be reckoned with, his name synonymous with cinematic brilliance and commercial success.
But everything came crashing down in 2017, when a bombshell article in The New York Times exposed the dark underbelly of Weinstein’s reign, revealing a litany of sexual scandals that would shake the foundations of the entertainment industry and give rise to the #MeToo movement.
The Academy, quick to distance itself from the scandal, swiftly expelled Weinstein from its ranks, sending him packing on a one-way ticket to purgatory. But this was just the tip of the iceberg for Weinstein, who would soon find himself behind bars, serving a 23-year prison sentence and facing new legal battles to come.
But in the end, Weinstein’s fall from grace serves as a stark reminder of the power of truth and the importance of holding those in positions of power accountable for their actions. His legacy will forever be tainted by the atrocities he committed, and serves as a warning to others who may be tempted to follow in his footsteps. So, the story of Harvey Weinstein is one of ambition, success, and ultimately downfall, a cautionary tale for those who dare to play with fire.
5- Carmine Caridi
As we delve into the annals of infamy, the name Carmine Caridi stands out like a beacon of shame. Best known for his appearances in The Godfather saga, Caridi was originally cast as the hot-headed Sonny Corleone, but ultimately had to settle for a supporting role in the sequels.
While Caridi may have made a name for himself in the world of film and television, it’s his infamous ban from the Academy that truly cements his legacy. In 2004, the Academy made the unprecedented decision to expel Caridi from their ranks, making him the first actor to ever receive such a punishment.
The reason for his downfall? Caridi, like all Academy members, had been given “screeners” – test tapes of films – on VHS to watch and vote on for the awards. However, instead of keeping the tapes to himself, as he was bound to do by confidentiality agreements, Caridi decided to share them with others. And in doing so, he sealed his own fate as an outcast in the industry.
4- Roman Polanski
The story of Roman Polanski is the stuff of Hollywood legend, a decades-long saga that has captivated audiences both in the film industry and beyond. At the center of this drama is a conviction for having sex with a minor, dating back to the 1970s, that saw the director flee the United States and become a fugitive from justice.
Despite this dark chapter in his past, Polanski remained a respected figure within the film community, even earning the coveted Best Director Oscar for The Pianist in 2002, which he received “in absentia.” However, as the #MeToo movement swept across the industry, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences found itself under increasing pressure to take action against the director.
In the end, the Academy made the difficult decision to cut ties with Polanski in 2018, as it grappled with the negative publicity generated by the #MeToo movement. The move was not without controversy, as many in the film community argued that the director’s artistic achievements should not be overshadowed by his past actions. But for the Academy, the need to uphold its values and stand in solidarity with victims of sexual assault ultimately won out.
3- Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby, once hailed as America’s favorite TV dad and a trailblazer in breaking down color barriers on television, tragically fell from grace. At the peak of the #MeToo movement, numerous allegations of aggravated indecent assault surfaced against him. The Academy, still reeling from the scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein, took swift and decisive action, revoking Cosby’s membership in 2018.
Despite his initial conviction on three counts of sexual assault, the actor’s convictions were later overturned following a stint in prison. But the damage had been done, and Cosby’s once-stellar reputation lay in ruins. The fall of a beloved figure from the heights of fame and success to the depths of infamy serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of one’s actions.
2- Adam Kimmel
Adam Kimmel was a rising star in the world of cinematography, known for his stunning visuals and his ability to bring a director’s vision to life on the big screen. He had been working in the industry since the late 1980s, and had lent his talents to films such as Truman Capote, earning critical acclaim and a reputation as one of the most talented cinematographers of his generation.
But beneath the surface, there was a dark secret lurking in Kimmel’s past. In 2004, he was accused and convicted of the rape of a 15-year-old girl, a crime that he managed to keep hidden from the public eye. Despite this, he continued to work in the industry and even reoffended in 2010, when he was found guilty of not registering as a sex offender. Despite this, he received a reduced sentence and the scandal went largely unnoticed.
It wasn’t until 2021 that Kimmel’s past caught up with him. Variety uncovered his criminal record and exposed him as a convicted sex offender. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization responsible for the Oscars, asked Kimmel to step down from his position, effectively closing the door on his career in the film industry.
Kimmel’s fall from grace serves as a stark reminder that even the most talented and successful individuals can be hiding a dark past. It also highlights the importance of holding those in positions of power accountable for their actions, regardless of how long ago they may have occurred.
1- Will Smith
As the world watched on in awe, Chris Rock took to the stage at the prestigious Dolby Theater, ready to present an award. Little did anyone know, he had a mischievous plan up his sleeve. As Jada Pinkett-Smith, wife of Will Smith, sat in the audience, Rock couldn’t resist the opportunity to play a prank on her by commenting on her recently shaved head.
But little did Rock know, his joke would have serious consequences. Will Smith, clearly upset by the comment, stormed the stage and delivered a swift slap to the actor and comedian, leaving the audience and millions of viewers at home in stunned silence.
The Academy was quick to act, and after several days of deliberation, they decreed a ten-year ban for Will Smith, a punishment he accepted with a heavy heart.
Ironically, that same night, Will Smith was awarded the coveted Oscar for Best Actor for his role in King Richard. It was a night of high emotions, and one that will go down in history as one of the most memorable moments in award show history.
The Academy has only played the veto card in three instances: sharing screeners of films sent to members, sex scandals exacerbated by ongoing social movements, and throwing a slap on Chris Rock’s face at the Dolby Theatre.
But let us not dwell on these rare instances of controversy. For the most part, the Oscars, and Hollywood at large, is a haven of peace, where scandalous occurrences are few and far between. So let us raise a glass to the glitz and the glory, and to the magic that makes the movies truly great.