91-Year-Old Screenwriter May Sue Academy For Age Discrimination

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) —  The Academy of Motion Pictures may have a court fight on its hands while it works on its new policy to promote diversity.

A 91-year-old member is accusing the Academy of trying to revoke his Oscar-voting privileges because he’s too old.

It was 1958 when screenwriter Robert Bassing became a member of the Academy and he’s been casting votes for the Oscars for more than five decades.

Bassing got a letter a couple months ago saying the Academy is preparing to take voting rights away from  “inactive members.”

“You may qualify for emeritus status,” Bassing read from the letter   “Like this is a promotion.”

Bassing’s last screenplay was in 1977. He says, he’ll consider suing for age discrimination.

“Don’t throw the members under the bus, or put the old people out to pasture.” Bassing said.

The changes come after the so-called “Oscars-so-white” controversy.  For the last two years, no actors or directors of color were nominated. The Academy then pledged to double the number of women and diverse members by 2020.

Bassing says he has no problem with that. But he wants the Academy to make changes for the future, not take away privileges of those from the past.

“None of this applies to me and I don’t enjoy being cast in that light,” Bassing said. “The whole thing offends me.”

The Academy released the following  statement:

“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.”

“There’s a lot of old people in the Academy that have very little left in their lives,” Bassing said. “The one thing they have is that they can go to the academy, they can evaluate films and they can cast their vote. To have that taken away, I think is cruel.”

The Academy says its newest member class ranges in age from 24 to 91 and that proves it isn’t about age.

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