Academy member, 91, alleges age discrimination in Oscar voting
(FOX 11) - Robert Bassing, 91, is a veteran Hollywood writer. He's penned episodes for teleivion shows from the 1950s through the 70's, including "The Alcoa Hour," "Ford Theater" and "My Three Sons."
Bassing's knees aren't what they used to be, but he says his brain is working just fine. He's considering suing the Motion Picture Academy for discrimination -- claiming it is pushing older members to the side to make room for others that can make the Academy more diverse.
"The old white men my age, we are the people who fought for civil rights," Bassing said. "That was that generation. We were the people fighting for civil rights and diversity long before these people ever heard of it."
You'll remember the controversy after the last Oscars over the lack of diversity in its nominations. For a second year in a row, there were no people of color among the acting nominees.
After that controversy, the Academy made a series of changes, including limiting a member's lifetime voting rights to ten years unless they continue working in the business.
For 58 years, Bassing has been a voting member of the Academy. When he raised the question of his status, the Academy sent him a letter informing him he could be an "emeritus" member if he qualified.
"Emeritus" member means he wouldn't vote. For him, those are fighting words.
"The beef is they want to disenfranchise me," he said.
But this is a man who believes he's earned a right to choose his membership status and doesn't want to be pushed out because he's "old and white," as he puts it.
"I can become emeritus. I've been thinking about it, but I'd like it to be my choice," Bassing added.
This summer, the Academy sent out more than 600 new member invites. Among those joining the Academy voting membership this year are some who are older.
The Academy provided this statement to FOX11:
"The Academy is proud to lead the change we must see across the industry. Our members are all active, working professionals who embody the high standards of excellence in the motion picture arts and sciences. Age is irrelevant; what matters is the work he or she has contributed to our industry. This is reflected in our new member class which represents filmmakers and artists ranging in age from 24 to 91."
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