LOS ANGELES — Last year Harvey Weinstein walked the Oscars red carpet just like his fellow movie moguls. This year, he was a punchline in Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue.
Kimmel paid tribute to the Time’s Up movement in the first few minutes of Sunday’s Academy Awards. He called the reckoning “long overdue” and said “things are changing for the better.”
The host pointed out persistent inequities in Hollywood, but also found ways to slip in a few jokes.
He pointed to the larger-than-life Oscar statue on stage and said, “Just look at him. He keeps his hands where you can see them. Never says a rude word. And most importantly, no penis at all. He is literally a statue of limitations. And that’s the kind of men we need more of in this town!”
After six months of stories about sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood and other industries, attention has turned to initiatives like Time’s Up campaign to fight workplace misconduct.
Several women who accused Weinstein of wrongdoing are expected to speak during Sunday’s ceremony.
“The world is watching us. We need to set an example,” Kimmel said. “And the truth is, if we are successful here, if we can work together to stop sexual harassment in the workplace, if we can do that, women will only have to deal with harassment all the time in every other place they go.”
There was scattered applause from the Dolby Theatre audience when Kimmel pointed out that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled Weinstein last October.
“The only other person to be expelled from the Academy — ever — was a character actor named Carmine Caridi,” Kimmel said. “In 2004 he was kicked out for sharing screeners. Carmine Caridi got the same punishment as Harvey Weinstein for giving his neighbor a copy of ‘Seabiscuit’ on VHS.”
On a more serious note, Kimmel said, “Only 11% of movies are directed by women. And that is nuts. We still have a very long way to go in that department, and a very long way to go when it comes to equal pay.”
He also acknowledged the ninetieth anniversary of the annual awards.
“Our friend Oscar is 90 years old tonight, which means he’s probably at home watching Fox News,” he quipped.
Kimmel mostly veered away from political jokes, but he did make light of Hollywood’s liberal bent.
Referring to a film about a same-sex romance, he said, “We don’t make films like ‘Call Me By Your Name’ for money. We make them to upset Mike Pence.”