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Oscar Scandal: Career Boost for Hurt Locker’s Chartier?

Oscar Scandal: Career Boost for Hurt Locker's Chartier?

The Hurt Locker producer Nicolas Chartier insists that he is enjoying his 15 minutes of fame. Late Wednesday night, drink in hand, pool side at Andaz above Sunset at a pre-Oscar party for The Cove, Chartier wasn’t acting like a Hollywood pariah.

Far from it. If The Hurt Locker wins on Sunday night, Chartier cares less about not being able to go up on stage –the Academy rescinded his invite to the ceremony after he broke their campaign ethics rules–than being an Oscar winner with a statue to prove it.

Chartier has never gotten so many e-mails, mostly supportive. His multiple Voltage Entertainment projects are moving forward with speed and alacrity. He’s now known all over the world. Amazon DVD sales of The Hurt Locker jumped in the last week (the DVD is currently ranked at 22), Chartier believes, not due to Oscar nominations, critical acclaim and multiple awards–but to Chartier’s viral global notoriety. Chartier can get into any Oscar party he wants now, and is delighted to be having one thrown for him on Oscar night (by WME’s Graham Taylor and producer Lynette Howell).

The bad news: the long-standing rift between Chartier and The Hurt Locker team of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal is clearly irreparable. And as one of the film’s producers, Chartier is also named in Sergeant Jeffrey Sarver’s lawsuit against The Hurt Locker and Playboy accusing Boal of stealing his character. That would make Boal’s Oscar-nominated original screenplay an adaptation, not fiction. Boal wanted to fictionalize the bomb defusers, he argues in response. (Read his September 2005 Playboy article “The Man in the Bomb Suit”.)

Reaction to Chartier within the film industry ranges from horror at this outsider/interloper French foreign sales agent’s stupidity for sending out an email to his friends–clearly promoting his movie at the expense of Avatar–to support for what some consider a minor campaign misstep. (Has Harvey Weinstein ever stepped over the line?) For better or worse, Chartier’s “Lockergate”–which broke too late to have much impact on the race, as most of Oscar ballots were mailed well before March 2–proves the old adage: there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Here’s the original letter, again:

From: “Nicolas Chartier” Date: Fri, 19 Feb 2010
I hope all is well with you. I just wanted to write you and say I hope you liked Hurt Locker and if you did and want us to win, please tell (name deleted) and your friends who vote for the Oscars, tell actors, directors, crew members, art directors, special effects people, if everyone tells one or two of their friends, we will win and not a $500M film, 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!
I’m sure you know plenty of people you’ve worked with who are academy members whethere a publicist, a writer, a sound engineer, please take 5 minutes and contact them. Please call one or two persons, everything will help!
best regards,
Nicolas Chartier
Voltage Pictures

And the apology:

From: “Nicolas Chartier”
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2010 16:21:33 -0800
Last week I emailed you regarding the Oscars next week, generally, and
“The Hurt Locker,” in particular.

My email to you was out of line and not in the spirit of the celebration of
cinema that this acknowledgement is. 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. As passionate as I am about the
film we made, this was an extremely inappropriate email to send, and
something that the Academy strongly disapproves of in the rules.

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. Being
nominated for an Academy Award is the ultimate honor and I should have taken
the time to read the rules.

I am emailing each person this very same statement asking to retract my
previous email and requesting that you please disregard it.

I truly apologize to anyone I have offended.

Sincerely yours,

best regards,

Nicolas Chartier
Voltage Pictures, LLC

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