As I predicted, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is penalizing The Hurt Locker producer Nicolas Chartier for violating Academy campaign standards by sending an email to his friends that promoted The Hurt Locker and dissed Avatar. Later at the Academy's behest Chartier sent an apologetic letter. Should the movie win best picture, states AMPAS, Chartier will not be one of the producers ascending the platform to accept his award, because he will not be admitted to the Oscar ceremony. His ticket has been revoked. Three producers, Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal and Gregory Shapiro, would accept their gold statues. Chartier would still be able to pick up his award at a later date.
The executive committee of the Academy's producer's branch voted on the penalty at a special session on Monday, and announced their decision Tuesday--the day ballots were due. (Most Academy voters had voted by the time the Chartier news hit media wires, so it's unlikely that it had much impact on the race.) It's also unlikely that Chartier, a foreign sales agent, will be invited to be a member of the Academy any time soon. One minute you're sitting on top of the world, accepting one award after another. The next you're an industry pariah. Chartier was stupid not to check his impulse to hit "send" with someone else, but I can't help feeling sorry for the guy. UPDATE: To make him feel better, WME's Graham Taylor and wife Lynette Howell will host an Oscar night party for Chartier, who has been muzzled by Summit.
On the other hand, other more powerful players have played in this sandbox without getting more than a knuckle-rapping. I know one Academy voter who not only bumped Inglourious Basterds to the bottom of his top ten ballot when he reacted badly to Harvey Weinstein's various media manipulations, but would have done the same with The Hurt Locker after learning about Chartier's email--if he hadn't already voted.
UPDATE: As the perceived front-runner, The Hurt Locker has been the target of several negative spins in the last days of the Oscar campaign. Now comes a lawsuit, filed Tuesday, from a bomb expert who says he's the basis of Mark Boal's fictional screen character, played by Jeremy Renner. Luckily for The Hurt Locker, the Academy ballots were due today.
[Photo: Mark Boal, Gregory Shapiro, Kathryn Bigelow, Nicolas Chartier.]