UPDATE 3:23 PM: If Roman Polanski and his legal representatives thought the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was going to hand back his membership quickly after he took the Oscar organization to court today, they were incorrect.
“The procedures taken to expel Mr. Polanski were fair and reasonable,” an Academy spokesperson said Friday afternoon. “The Academy stands behind its decision as appropriate.”
PREVIOUSLY, 12:30 PM: Just under a year after being tossed out of the the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the rape of a 13-year old girl in 1978, Roman Polanski made good today on his threat to sue the Oscars organization.
“The Academy committed a prejudicial abuse of discretion in that the Academy failed to proceed in a manner required by law, the Academy’s expulsion decision is not supported by the findings, and the Academy’s findings are not supported by the evidence,” said a filing in L.A. Superior Court this Good Friday (read it here).
Also writing to AMPAS’ attorneys at Quin Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, the Chinatown director’s lawyer Harland Braun is brazenly seeking to see Polanski reinstated “as an Academy member in good standing” ASAP – and he has an distinct angle.
“The Academy failed to comply with its own rules, policies, and regulations in expelling Petitioner without notice, without an opportunity to be heard and deliberately violated California Corporations Code,” the attorney asserted for his equally brazen client.
Following today’s filing, AMPAS typically did not respond to a request by Deadline for comment on the matter. Back in May 2018 the Academy did say that the expulsion of Polanski and the now imprisoned Bill Cosby happened in part because “the Board continues to encourage ethical standards that require members to uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity.”
Having won the Best Director Oscar in 2003 for The Pianist, Polanski has been in self-imposed exile in Europe since he fled the U.S. 40 years ago after being convicted of rape in the late 1970s. With his French citizenship as a protective shield and the support of a number of prominent producers, studio bosses and talent over the years, the Polish-born filmmaker has successfully fended off various disorganized attempts by American officials to bring him back to face justice.
In the past few years, Braun has headed a so-far unsuccessful effort to establish that Polanski was actually the victim in the 1978 rape case due to court misconduct and political corruption – both decades ago and in the 21st century. To that end, the lawyer has pushed inside and outside court that octogenarian Polanski should be permitted to return Stateside and to work in Hollywood without fear of further punishment.
Weaved into all this is the fact that in January of last year, the L.A. Country District Attorney’s office decided not to bring charges against Polanski over the alleged rape of a 10-year old in 1975 as the statute of limitations had expired.
With his win in 2003, Polanski has been nominated on six occasions for an Oscar. Though the Academy kicked him out last year after 50 years as a member, they never took his Pianist Oscar away.