The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that should Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" be given the Best Picture Oscar, one of the film's four credited producers will not be there to celebrate.
After recently sending an e-mail to selected Academy voters and other film industry figures in which he solicited votes for his own picture and disparaged one of the other contending films, the Academy has decided that "Locker" producer Nicolas Chartier is not welcome at the ceremony this Sunday as a penalty for violating Academy campaigning standards.
With ten films vying for best picture this year, the news from the Academy came amidst an intensifying Oscar campaign season that concludes tonight when balloting closes in Los Angeles. "The Hurt Locker" has seen as a frontrunner for the best picture Oscar given its overwhelming dominance of numerous pre-Oscar prizes. But, James Cameron's "Avatar" and even Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" have been considered viable winners as voting came to a close tonight.
Academy rules prohibit "casting a negative or derogatory light on a competing film," which Chartier did when he sent a series of e-mails bashing "The Hurt Locker"'s main competitor, "Avatar." The e-mails were first reported by Los Angeles Times Oscar blogger Pete Hammond, sending waves across the Oscar blogosphere and finding many prognosticators re-thinking "Locker"'s frontrunner status.
The executive committee of the Academy's Producers Branch, at a special session late Monday night, ruled that this ethical lapse "merited the revocation of Chartier's invitation to the Awards." According to the Academy, the group "stopped short" of recommending that the Academy governors rescind Chartier's nomination. If "The Hurt Locker" were to be selected as Best Picture, Chartier would receive an Oscar statuette after the ceremonies.
The Academy Awards will be presented this Sunday, March 7, 2010, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
Full coverage of awards season is available in indieWIRE's special awards section.