‘Locker’ producer barred from Oscars

Chartier penalized for violating campaign rules

Nicolas Chartier, one of the four nominated producers of “The Hurt Locker,” will have to stay away from the Kodak Theater for Sunday’s Oscar ceremony.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Tuesday that, as a penalty for violating campaign rules, Chartier would be barred from the 82nd Academy Awards gala. Chartier violated Academy rules against campaigning directly to voters and disparaging the competition.

But AMPAS stopped short of stripping Chartier of his candidacy as a nominee for its top award and said that, should “Locker” win, Chartier will receive the Oscar statuette — just not at the Kodak.

The ruling came down late Monday from the executive committee of the Academy’s producers branch, which found at a special session that the “ethical lapse” merited the revocation of Chartier’s invitation.

Chartier began apologizing last week for having violated the campaign rules. The offending email, sent out Feb. 19, had urged Acad members to vote for “Locker” as he disparaged “Avatar.”

“If everyone tells one or two of their friends, we will win and not a $500 million film,” he wrote without naming the Fox pic. “We need independent movies to win like the movies you and I do, so if you believe ‘The Hurt Locker’ is the best movie of 2010, help us!”

“The Hurt Locker,” released by Summit, cost less than $20 million to produce. The other producers are director Kathryn Bigelow, screenwriter Mark Boal and Greg Shapiro.

Chartier’s apology said that his email was “out of line and not in the spirit of the celebration of cinema.”

He also said, “I was even more wrong, both personally and professionally, to ask for your help in encouraging others to vote for the film and to comment on another movie.”

The Acad has strict campaign guidelines. A direct mailing to Oscar voters “may not extol the merits of a film, an achievement or an individual,” and all forms of communication “casting a negative or derogatory light on a competing film or achievement are not permitted.”

In a separate development, Master Sgt. Jeffrey S. Sarver announced Tuesday that he plans to sue the filmmakers of “The Hurt Locker,” alleging that he’s been cheated out of financial participation in the pic. Sarver alleges that he is the main character, portrayed by Jeremy Renner.

Summit responded by issuing a statement that the film is a “fictional account.”

“We have no doubt that Master Sgt. Sarver served his country with honor and commitment risking his life for a greater good, but we distributed the film based on a fictional screenplay written by Mark Boal,” the company said. “We hope for a quick resolution to the claims made by Master Sgt. Sarver.”

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