'Locker' producer banned from Oscars show

Nicolas Chartier will receive statue if his film wins best picture

In the highest-profile effort this Oscar season by the Academy to police overzealous awards campaigning, "The Hurt Locker" producer Nicolas Chartier has been banned from the Awards ceremony.

If his movie wins best picture on Sunday night, Chartier will not be at the Kodak Theatre to accept the award with three other producers. However, he would receive an actual statuette at some point.

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The Academy said Tuesday that Chartier was penalized by the executive committee of the Producers Branch during a special session a day earlier because of what they deemed "an ethical lapse."

Chartier disseminated an e-mail to certain Academy voters and other film industry figures in which he solicited votes for his own picture and disparaged one of the other contending films. Academy rules prohibit "casting a negative or derogatory light on a competing film."

In the e-mail, Chartier encouraged those who liked "Hurt Locker" to vote for it as best picture over "the $500 million film," an obvious reference to "Avatar."

Chartier had won an earlier battle to be recognized as a producer on the movie. While there is a rule that only three producers can accept an Academy Award, in unusual cases that rule is waived, and it was here. The other three recognized as producers are Kathryn Bigelow, who also directed; Mark Boal, who also wrote the screenplay; and Greg Shapiro.

With nine noms, "Hurt Locker" is tied with "Avatar" as the most honored movie of the year and one of the favorites in the best picture race.

Chartier is a principal of Voltage Entertainment, a foreign sales company he founded with producer Dean Devlin. Voltage provided the initial financing of about $11 million to make "Hurt Locker," then raised the money by doing international presales at film markets for exhibition outside the U.S.

The film was later picked up for U.S. distribution by Summit Entertainment, which was not cited by the Academy. Oscar balloting closed at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Summit declined comment.

Chartier did not respond to calls for comment. He said previously that he was ignorant of the rules and apologized. "My naivete, ignorance of the rules and plain stupidity as a first-time nominee is not an excuse for this behavior, and I strongly regret it," he said last week.
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