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 concerning the Academy Awards ceremony, died on Friday in Los Angeles. He was 81.
His loss of life was introduced by the academy, which didn’t specify the trigger.
As a cinematographer, Mr. Bailey collaborated continuously with celebrated administrators like Paul Schrader and labored on many well-known films, together with Lawrence Kasdan’s “The Large Chill” (1983) and “Groundhog Day” (1993), directed by Harold Ramis.
Earlier than he was chosen to move 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 stated he usually tried to make his personal work “invisible.”
After the academy introduced in August 2017 that he could be its subsequent president, The New York Instances reported: “Hollywood scratched its head. Who?”
It took solely two months for Mr. Bailey to seek out himself within the information. Shortly after The Instances and The New Yorker revealed investigations revealing beforehand undisclosed allegations of sexual harassment towards the producer Harvey Weinstein, the academy voted overwhelmingly to “instantly expel” him. On the time, it was solely the second recognized 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 assist for the choice.
“We’re witnessing this venerable movement image academy reinvent itself earlier than our very eyes,” he stated to a luncheon of Oscar nominees a number of months later, based on Vainness Honest. “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 lots of Hollywood’s worst abuses are being jackhammered into oblivion.”
Within the form of head-spinning flip of occasions that turned acquainted through the peak of the #MeToo second, Mr. Bailey himself turned the topic of a sexual harassment accusation solely weeks later.
Selection reported that the academy had acquired three harassment complaints about him. However the academy later introduced that it had just one such accusation to look into, and inside weeks it decided that there was no advantage to the declare.
Extra turmoil for Mr. Bailey’s academy lay forward. The 2018 Oscars telecast noticed a drop-off in rankings that has by no means been totally reversed. The comic Kevin Hart was employed to host the 2019 ceremony, then stepped down amid criticism of jokes he had made years earlier about not wanting his son to be homosexual, leaving that yr’s occasion hostless.
Mr. Bailey made the case for 2 adjustments to the ceremony designed to keep up viewer curiosity in a brand new period: including a “well-liked movie” class, to incorporate the form of blockbuster films that the Oscars in any other case overlook, and holding some award bulletins throughout industrial 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, The Instances described his tenure as having been “chaotic.”
Getting embroiled in tradition wars and energy struggles was an surprising profession growth for Mr. Bailey. He had made it his modus operandi to keep away from “tawdry” movies, he informed American Cinematographer. Describing his youthful aspirations in a 2017 interview with The Instances, Mr. Bailey stated, referring to a long-dead French movie critic, “I wished to jot 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 informed American Cinematographer that his father was a machinist who by no means went to highschool.
Mr. Bailey earned a bachelor’s diploma from Loyola Marymount College in Los Angeles in 1964 and a graduate diploma in cinema from the College of Southern California a number of years later. 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 Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven.” The great 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 international movie and determined to rent him as an alternative. The 2 males would work collectively on 5 films.
That very same yr, Mr. Bailey joined with Robert Redford on “Odd Individuals,” Mr. Redford’s directorial debut, which received 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 weblog about movie for American Cinematographer.
Considered one of his accomplishments on the academy was to broaden its worldwide membership, which he informed 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 stated, “not your private coach.”