Cinematographer John Bailey, who led the film academy at the start of the #MeToo reckoning, has died at 81.

FILE PHOTO: Motion Picture Academy President John Bailey speaks at a cocktail reception for foreign language film nominees on March 2, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by David McNew/Reuters

LOS ANGELES (AP) — John Bailey, the cinematographer who led the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences during the initial #MeToo reckoning, died Friday at age 81.

Bailey died „peacefully in his sleep” in Los Angeles, his wife, Carol Littleton, said in a statement distributed by the motion picture academy.

Bailey — who has worked on films ranging from „Ordinary People” to „Groundhog Day” to „How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” — is the first cinematographer to preside over the Academy, serving twice from 2017-2019.

Those were critical years for the film industry. When Bailey took over, the Oscars alone were struggling with falling ratings, the integrity of its nominations (#OscarsSoWhite) and the infamous envelope flub that marred the Best Picture win for „Moonlight.” Within two months of his inauguration, The New York Times and The New Yorker published bombshell reports about sexual assault allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, prompting an industry-wide reckoning with power structures and abuses.

read more: #MeToo leaders examine the movement 5 years later

The academy’s board of governors voted to expel Weinstein after the reports. Afterward, as questions arose about other members who were indicted but in good standing, Bailey said in a memo to members that the organization „can’t and won’t be a court of inquiry, but we can be part of a larger effort.” To define standards of conduct and support vulnerable women and men who are at personal and professional risk due to violations of ethical standards by their peers.”

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The academy later adopted a code of conduct that made it easier to suspend or expel members „who abuse their position, power or influence in a manner that violates standards of decency.”

„I may be a 75-year-old white male, but I’m as glad as the youngest of you that the fossilized foundation of so many of Hollywood’s worst abuses is slipping into oblivion,” Bailey said at the 2018 Oscars. lunch.

Soon, Bailey himself was accused of inappropriately touching a woman in a movie set a decade earlier. Bailey denied the allegation and in March 2018 an Academy investigation determined no further action was necessary. Later that year he was re-elected for a second term.

Efforts to change the Academy Awards ceremony also grew controversial during Bailey’s tenure. In 2018, the Academy announced that the Oscars would add a popular film award and reduce the broadcast by giving the presentation of some categories to commercial breaks.

„We’ve heard from many of you about the improvements needed to keep the Oscars and our Academy relevant in a changing world,” Bailey and Academy CEO Dan Hudson wrote in an email to members.

The moves sparked an immediate backlash, including fears that the new genre would push that year’s hits like „Black Panther” out of Best Picture contention. A month later, the „Best Achievement in a Popular Film” award was presented.

Bailey told The Associated Press at the time that he was surprised by the strong reaction.

„The idea of ​​this award is not to try to ensure that some kind of big mass-market film should be recognized. In my mind, it’s about films that are more difficult,” he said. He championed „mediocre films,” citing his own films as examples of films with big budgets that don’t want to win awards.

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(The decision to cut categories from television was also unpopular, but was temporarily halted. All categories have since been restored to the show.)

Bailey Littleton was nominated for an Oscar for „ET the Extra-Terrestrial” by former Academy Governor and film editor. He was slated to receive an honorary Oscar this year, but the governor’s awards ceremony was delayed due to the Hollywood strikes.

The Oscars are ever-evolving, with many changes since Bailey’s time at the helm. In his view, the Oscars cannot be a sustainable institution. Instead, he told the AP in 2018, the statue „is a symbol of excellence in an industry that’s always changing. And what we’re trying to do is honor those changes as they continue to change. It’s not like it’s frozen in time. , these awards.”

„There are people who say that a company is out of touch and out of touch with everything about the industry, and they seem very eager to kind of jump into the fray and voice their opinions and create a debate,” Bailey said. „If we’re irrelevant, why does everyone care?”

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