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John Bailey, Oscars President at a Time of Strife, Dies at 81

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John Bailey, an completed cinematographer who was president of the Academy of Movement Image Arts and Sciences from 2017 to 2019, a tumultuous interval when Harvey Weinstein was excommunicated from the group and complaints mounted in regards to the Academy Awards ceremony, died on Friday. He was 81.

His loss of life was announced by the academy, which didn’t say the place he died or specify the trigger.

As a cinematographer, Mr. Bailey collaborated steadily with celebrated administrators like Paul Schrader and labored on many well-known motion pictures, together with “Groundhog Day” (1993) and “The Large Chill” (1983).

Earlier than he was chosen to go the academy, he had by no means held a outstanding public position, and he was by no means nominated for an Oscar himself, although he helped others win the award. In an interview in 2020 with the publication American Cinematographer, Mr. Bailey mentioned he typically tried to make his personal work “invisible.”

After the academy introduced in August 2017 that he can be its subsequent president, The New York Instances reported: “Hollywood scratched its head. Who?”

It took solely two months for Mr. Bailey to search out himself within the information. Shortly after The Instances and The New Yorker printed investigations revealing beforehand undisclosed allegations of sexual harassment towards the producer Harvey Weinstein, the academy voted overwhelmingly to “instantly expel” him. It was solely the second identified occasion of an expulsion from the academy.

(The primary occurred in 2004, when the character actor Carmine Caridi had his membership revoked after he broke guidelines about lending DVD screeners of contending movies. Since then, the comic and actor Invoice Cosby, the director Roman Polanski and the cinematographer Adam Kimmel have additionally been expelled.)

In a letter Mr. Bailey despatched to members of the academy days after the vote, he wrote that the group couldn’t develop into “an inquisitorial court docket.” However he additionally expressed passionate help for the choice.

“We’re witnessing this venerable movement image academy reinvent itself earlier than our very eyes,” Mr. Bailey mentioned to a luncheon of Oscar nominees a number of months later, according to Vanity Fair. “I could also be a 75-year-old white male, however I’m each bit as gratified because the youngest of you right here that the fossilized bedrock of a lot of Hollywood’s worst abuses are being jackhammered into oblivion.”

Within the type of head-spinning flip of occasions that grew to become acquainted in the course of the top of the #MeToo second, Mr. Bailey himself grew to become the topic of a sexual harassment accusation solely weeks later.

Selection reported that the academy had acquired three harassment complaints about Mr. Bailey. However the academy later introduced that it had just one such accusation to look into, and inside weeks it decided that there was no benefit to the declare.

Mr. Bailey made the case for 2 modifications to the ceremony designed to keep up viewer curiosity in a brand new period: including a “standard movie” class, to incorporate the type of blockbuster motion pictures that the Oscars in any other case overlook, and holding some award bulletins throughout business breaks to shorten the published. The academy encountered such extreme blowback to these proposals that it scrapped each of them.

In 2019, when time period limits compelled Mr. Bailey to step down from his place, The Instances described his tenure as “chaotic,” however in hindsight, maybe not one of the scandals of Mr. Bailey’s period rose to the extent of Will Smith giving Chris Rock an unscripted slap to the face midbroadcast. (Mr. Smith acquired a ban of 10 years from the Oscars.)

Getting embroiled in tradition wars and energy struggles was an surprising profession growth for Mr. Bailey. He made it his modus operandi, he instructed American Cinematographer, to keep away from “tawdry” movies. Describing his youthful aspirations in a 2017 interview with The New York Instances, Mr. Bailey mentioned, referring to a long-dead French movie critic, “I wished to write down — to be the American André Bazin.”

John Ira Bailey was born on Aug. 10, 1942, in Moberly, Mo. He grew up in Norwalk, a metropolis in Los Angeles County, California. He instructed American Cinematographer that his father was a machinist who by no means went to highschool.

He earned a bachelor’s diploma from Loyola Marymount College in Los Angeles in 1964, and several other years later he earned a graduate diploma in cinema from the College of Southern California. He entered that program to pursue movie research, a younger cinephile hoping to develop into a critic, however discovered himself drawn as an alternative to cinematography.

Early in his profession, he had small jobs on a number of enduring movies, like being the digicam operator on Mr. Malick’s “Days of Heaven.” The fantastic thing about Néstor Almendros’s cinematography in that film remained an inspiration for Mr. Bailey.

When Mr. Schrader was making ready to shoot “American Gigolo” (1980), he deliberate to discover a European cinematographer. However then, American Cinematographer reported, he was launched to Mr. Bailey, discovered himself impressed by Mr. Bailey’s information of overseas movie and determined to rent him as an alternative. The 2 males would go on to work collectively on 5 motion pictures.

That very same yr, Mr. Bailey labored with Robert Redford on “Odd Folks,” Mr. Redford’s directorial debut, which gained a number of Oscars, together with for greatest director.

In later years Mr. Bailey repeatedly collaborated with the administrators Michael Apted (on the 1996 film “Excessive Measures” and different movies) and Ken Kwapis (on movies together with “The Sisterhood of the Touring Pants” in 2005 and “He’s Simply Not That Into You” in 2009). He additionally wrote a blog about movie for American Cinematographer.

His accomplishments on the academy included increasing worldwide membership, which he instructed The Instances helped the South Korean movie “Parasite” win the best-picture award in 2020.

He’s survived by his spouse of 51 years, Carol Littleton, an Oscar-nominated movie editor.

On the 2018 luncheon for Oscar nominees, Mr. Bailey had some helpful recommendation for winners, The Instances reported.

“Thank your mother,” he mentioned, “not your private coach.”