The Academy of Motion Pictures Kicked Out an Actor for Pirating VHS Screeners

Will the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expel Will Smith for assaulting Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars? The organization once kicked out a member for committing a far lesser offense.

Meet actor Carmine Caridi. You may not know him but he’s in an exclusive group with Harvey Weinstein, Roman Polanski, and Bill Cosby: All four men hold the dishonorable distinction of having been expelled from the Academy.

Caridi was kicked out in 2004 for pirating VHS screeners that Academy members used to receive for awards consideration.

Caridi appeared in the final two installments of the Godfather Trilogy, as well as the Gambler, with James Caan, and Sydney Lumet’s Prince of the City. The actor also appeared in a long list of TV shows including Fantasy Island, Taxi, 21 Jump Street, Night Court, NYPD Blue and Curb Your Enthusiasm to name a few.

Carmine Caridi in The Godfather Part 2 (Paramount Pictures)

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter in 2017, the actor revealed he copied screeners to share with family members and friends. “I sent screeners to people, besides my brother and sister, who couldn’t afford them,” Caridi said. “I made a lot of people happy.”

At one point, he was sending screeners to a friend to make copies for himself. Caridi recalled he was happy to help out a fellow film lover. “I would send them to him before I even looked at them, and then he would copy them and send them back.”

Eventually, the FBI caught up with Caridi. “I thought I was going to jail,” he said, but the government offered him immunity in return for naming the friend. “If I didn’t, they would have handcuffed me,” he said.

The Academy’s board of governors voted unanimously to expel Caridi in 2004. He was later sued by Warner Bros. and Columbia Pictures, with a judge reportedly ordering him to pay the maximum amount of $300,000, plus attorneys fees, to each studio.

Caridi passed away in 2019.

He didn’t object to being expelled from the Academy. “I don’t blame the Academy,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “I did violate their law.”

The board is expected to meet Wednesday to discuss Will Smith’s assault on Chris Rock at the Oscars on Sunday.


The actor could face disciplinary measures, expulsion, and the forfeiture of the Oscar he won for his performance in King Richard.


Unlike Caridi, who showed remorse for what led to his Academy outsing, Will Smith appeared unbothered by his Oscar night assault. Smith danced the night away with fellow Hollywood elites at the Vanity Fair Oscars after party, just hours after assaulting Chris Rock.

While getting Jiggy to his own hit song, Smith told the Hollywood Reporter “It’s been a beautiful night.”

The academy expelled Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and Roman Polanski in the wake of the #MeToo movement in 2018. Weinstein was expelled ‘for “sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment” while Cosby and Polanski were expelled “in accordance with the organization’s Standards of Conduct” stemming from their sexual assault cases.

Both Weinstein and Polanski were allowed to keep their Oscars for Shakespeare in Love and The Pianist, respectively, which suggests Smith is likely to hold onto his statuette, whatever disciplinary action he may receive.

Follow David Ng on Twitter @HeyItsDavidNg. Have a tip? Contact me at [email protected]

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