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Will 'The Hurt Locker' team be punished for breaking Oscar rules?

February 25, 2010 |  2:37 pm

We'll have to wait until the middle of next week to find out if the motion picture academy will respond publicly to the growing hubbub over a "Hurt Locker" producer's violation of Oscar campaign rules. Yesterday Nicolas Chartier issued an apology for the "extremely inappropriate" e-mail he sent to academy members urging them to campaign for "The Hurt Locker" and not vote for the "$500M film" ("Avatar," of course) to win best picture. The academy may choose to issue official penalties.

Academy PR chief Leslie Unger tells Gold Derby: "There will be no comment about action regarding the campaign violation until after the ballot due date (5 p.m. on Tuesday).  At that time, we may or may not have a comment."

The Hurt Locker Oscars Academy Awards news 2

Today many academy leaders, including members of the producers' peer committee, are powwowing privately to discuss what the academy's response should be. There are many options, including the issue of a formal censure that publicly condemns Chartier for his behavior, but is otherwise toothless.

If an actual penalty is exacted, it will probably be a cut-back in the number of tickets allotted for "The Hurt Locker" team to attend the Oscar ceremony and/or Governors' Ball.

"Generally speaking, our recourse with regard to violations has been the loss of tickets," Unger tells Gold Derby. One example: In 2000, studio execs behind "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" got penalized four tickets for violating a rule prohibiting campaigners from sending both a DVD and VHS tape to academy members. Campaigners could send only one media format to voters, not two.

Another option would be to ban Chartier from ever becoming a member. Current members who belong to the "Hurt Locker" team could be booted from key academy positions. That is what happened to the PR rep in charge of the Oscar campaign for "Gangs of New York" in 2002 after he pulled a dubious ploy. He enlisted Oscar-winning director Robert Wise ("West Side Story," "The Sound of Music") to write a letter to local newspapers asking fellow Oscar voters to back Martin Scorsese. When it was discovered that the letter was actually written by the campaigner, not by Wise, the publicist was removed from the academy's peer committee for the PR branch.

Oscar chiefs may choose to get tough on "The Hurt Locker" team as a way of responding to widespread complaints of overly aggressive campaigning this year across the board, especially via e-mail and Facebook. The academy was particularly surprised by the new problems popping up in social networks on the Web, where nominees publicly urged friends and strangers to whip up voter support for them. 


'Hurt Locker' producer apologizes for his 'extremely inappropriate' e-mail

Poll: How should the Oscars respond to 'The Hurt Locker' e-mail scandal?

'The Hurt Locker' debate: accuracy vs. entertainment

Photo: Summit Entertainment

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The comments to this entry are closed.


I have yet to see Up. District 9 was very good. Avatar was also very good and should win all cinematography, editing, visual effects, etc, awards.

I see some people appreciated the Hurt Locker while others did not. It is a matter of preference I guess.

But I will say this film has done something that no other film has done in the past two decades: It is a suspense film that remains a suspense film the entire movie.

Far too many films start out as suspense and turn into action/adventure movies (a good example is Outbreak). It is nearly impossible for true suspense films to remain suspense films nowadays. But this one does; and it does with pure genius and excellence.

While Avatar is "Dances with Wolves with Aliens", Hurt Locker is truly an original masterpiece of a movie and should win Best Director and Best Picture, hands down, despite the poor judgement by this obvious idiot.

If you break the rules, you should be disqualified. Otherwise, there is no purpose of even having rules (if there really aren't teeth to them). But I guess this is Hollywood, where celebrities are used to always getting away with everything. If the academy doesn't do something beyond take away tickets (oh yeah, that will teach them!), then they may as well publicize yes: we WANT EVERYONE to BE CORRUPT WHEN VOTING. We want ALL voters to be political. Don't vote for the best movie 1st and the second movie 2nd, etc... Vote simply AGAINST your top competition."... So, Academy. Is THAT the message you want endorsed? The ball's in your hands. And the nation is watching...

So much brouhaha! I hope a big upset comes in the win for either District 9 or all THL, IB and Avatar fans can cry through next year's Oscars...

a film so minimal in it's scope, a forgettable cast and an almost plotless storyline. my friends and i still cannot believe this is nominated for awards.

Basically, there should be no campaigning at all. It cheapens the meaning of winning this award.

This film SHOULD NOT get the boot. It was a fantastic film, and only the individual should be punished. If this film does not win Best Picture or Best Director, the sole reason will be his stupidity and lack of humility. It's a miracle this film was even entered in the race, and he's becoming detrimental to their chances. Honestly, this film should win Best Pic and Director.

"The Hurt Who?"
I'd like to nominate "Aren't You Tired of Ambitious Nobodies Making Noise" for best big picture.

Hurt Locker penalized? There are rules in La La Land? Absurd.

Tom Carlson, if The Hurt Locker had been directed by a man, it would've been a different film.

How good the film is or isn't bears no relation to the one guy's misdeeds. I found the film good, though not great. I still cannot understand the praise for "Private Ryan." What made it great? The bloody landing on Normandy Beach? That makes a great film? The Tom Hanks character was a joke: his kindness to the German prisoner eventually leads to the deaths of many Americans, including the Hanks character, but that was barely touched upon (in fact, the character continued to be seen as a hero).

And today's print LA Times smear piece on the authenticity of Hurt Locker's depiction of combat isn't a blatant attempt at influencing Academy voters? The Times has had months to publish such a story and yet, they do so four days before the Oscar votes are due. Incredibly suspicious.

So, it's okay for a newspaper to basically campaign against a film, but it's not okay for a producer of that film to campaign FOR it? I wonder which studio is greasing palms at the Times (or, perhaps, which one ISN'T).

Just MORE Hollywood 'INsider'-TYPE jockeying; back stabbing, vote buying and so much more, that THIS WHOLE NONSENSE Could make one hellova Oscar 'Whining' Movie..... THL was interesting from the point that it shows what our troops face. Back in 1776, I'm sure the Brits would have made a movie and said "Those damned colonists are terrorists....they wear deerskins, and coon skins, lurk in the shadows and woods, attack us at night, and when we chase them, disappear into the mountains, or hide amongst the good citizens." THL was intense, but an Oscar???? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...

Two questions. Who gave the producerette the membership email list? And why is my spam file still receiving uninvited 42 West emails?

this movie isn't even that good at all, its not full metal jacket, or apocylpse now or even a plattoon movie. honestly its an ok movie at best, moves extremely slowly and wasn't that great, honestly i don't see what the big deal is. Its not even as original as the blair witch project that was more indy and on a lower budget but more original than this movie.

I say boot the film. It's the only way to be truly fair to the other contending films for Best Picture. Of course, the Oscars would never do that out of fear of bashlash. Better an unfair race that the ignorant masses like rather than a fair race that film buffs will respect.

How is this any different from any of Harvey Weinstein's tactics over the years?

If, "The Hurt Locker" had been directed by, say, a man with no connection to Jim Cameron, and had been produced by a major studio, the buzz for the film would be about what the buzz for, "Up in the Air" is.

It's a fine war film, but so what? "Saving Private Ryan" is a great war film and it didn't win best picture.

The question that warrents deeper investigation is did Chartier act alone in finding all of the email addresses and names of Acad members or was 42 West, Summit, and the THL team part of this?

the original email urged each recipient to spread the word to other Acad members and, in some cases, named specific individuals who should be contacted.

The Acad has strict campaign guidelines. The rules state that a direct mailing to Oscar voters "may not extol the merits of a film, an achievement or an individual." The regs add that all forms of communication "casting a negative or derogatory light on a competing film or achievement are not permitted."

Finally, we see what THL hype is all about. This is the only argument that an average film like THL has. This is Hollywood politics at its worst. THL is the favorite and will likely win because of the poor little indie campaign that has been waged on its behalf by many over the last several weeks.

Avatar will be around when THL is relegated back to the dusty corners of Netflix warehouses.

What a shame that one individual could be so reckless in his judgment and actions, that he could potentially jeopardize the the ultimate industry recognition for an entire production team's collaborative and hard work. Especially considering what is at stake, the year's (second) most critically acclaimed film (next to 'Up', according to many critic's tallies) against the also acclaimed, yet blockbuster behemoth 'Avatar'. It could be a victory for independent film. Ideally I feel the reprimand should be on the individual and not the team, I could see the Academy's justification if they decide to strictly enforce the rules.

During awards season, there are endless paid ads in the trades requesting "your consideration".
What's the difference, really?



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