24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Nicholas Chartier

Nicolas Chartier's behavior is even weirder than you thought

March 3, 2010 |  2:42 pm

One of the curious tidbits to emerge from the filing of a Michigan lawsuit by Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver -- a soldier who claims defamation, invasion of privacy and other offenses against "The Hurt Locker" -- is the below e-mail from embattled "Hurt Locker" producer Nicolas Chartier.

Chartier is responding to a lawyer for Sarver, who was forwarding correspondence between the production and the soldier.

We could offer comment on the many oddities of Chartier's reply -- not least of which is the fact that the cited "Will James" is, of course, the main character in his film -- but all jokes would be redundant. We've yet to hear back from Chartier.

-- Steven Zeitchik

*************************************************

From: Nicolas Chartier
Sent: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 8:07 PM
To: Todd Weglarz
Subject: RE: Sgt Sarver / The Hurt Locker

Hi I’m sorry I’ve never heard of sergeant sarver/will james. I don’t understand is he an actor named will james or jeffrey sarver, I just looked on internet movie database and neither are in the film. I can google but maybe you can tell me who is he and why he’s not happy? Everyone says it’s one of the best movies of the year, did he just not like the popcorn when he watched the movie? I haven’t taken any grossly unfair action against him, I’ve never heard of him. what negative impact, who’s that man? Did I steal his girlfriend? Never heard of him.

best regards,
Nicolas Chartier
Voltage Pictures, LLC


From: Todd Weglarz
Sent: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 4:53 PM
To: Nicolas Chartier
Subject: Sgt Sarver / The Hurt Locker
Importance: High

Dear Mr. Chartier:

Attached please find correspondence regarding Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver (“Will James”) & The Hurt Locker. Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Oscars bar the door to Chartier -- UPDATED

March 2, 2010 |  4:31 pm

Don't look for Nicolas Chartier reaction or podium shots at the Oscars on Sunday. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has taken the modest, if still notable, step of docking the "Hurt Locker" producer's tickets to the Kodak Theatre. The decision comes on the heels of Chartier sending out an e-mail message to a group that includes Academy members asking voters to choose "The Hurt Locker" for best picture over the "$500 million" film, i.e., "Avatar."

"Nicolas Chartier has been denied attendance at the 82nd Academy Awards as a penalty for violating Academy campaigning standards. Chartier had recently disseminated an email 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," the Academy said in a statement Tuesday. "The executive committee of the Academy’s Producers Branch, at a special session late Monday, ruled that the ethical lapse merited the revocation of Chartier’s invitation to the Awards."

The ruling stops short of the more draconian measure of making the film ineligible for best picture. But the docking is nonetheless significant -- it marks the first time in recent memory that tickets have been taken away from a nominee. Chartier was not immediately available for comment.

[UPDATED, 6:26 PM: The Academy confirms that this is the first time a specific nominee has ever been barred (studios have had their ticket allotment reduced, as Sony Pictures Classics did for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" in 2001. The group also says that Chartier will also not be allowed in as any other nominee's guest. Meanwhile, on another "Hurt Locker" front, our colleague Patrick Goldstein has just posted a story about a potential lawsuit from the soldier who says the movie was based on his experiences. You can read that story here.]

Full statement after the jump.

Continue reading »

Could 'The Hurt Locker' be disqualified from the Oscars because of an intemperate e-mail?

February 25, 2010 |  2:18 pm

Hur
With a controversial e-mail from a producer of "The Hurt Locker" kicking up dust, Oscar season once again has a case of public mudslinging on its hands. But for all the messiness, it may result in little more than the loss of a few party tickets.

Late last week, "The Hurt Locker" producer Nicolas Chartier sent an e-mail to a group of peers and friends, at least some of whom are members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, asking them to vote for "The Hurt Locker" and "not the $500 million film" -- in other words, "Avatar." But after the e-mail came to light this week, Chartier, a first-timer to the rigors of the awards circuit, sent out a message apologizing for his initial e-mail, citing his "naivete, ignorance of the rules and plain stupidity."

Academy rules clearly bar campaigning that creates a negative impression of another film. And though  whispering about a rival is common, an e-mail making a flat appeal for one film by deriding another, for budgetary or any other reasons, would almost certainly be out of bounds.

Although the eventual impact of Chartier's indie-first argument on voters is unclear -- the Academy historically has liked movies that were box-office successes -- the effect on the Academy itself, and the film, could be more tangible.

The Academy, which learned of the e-mail this week, is looking into various forms of discipline, with the group's executive administrator Ric Robertson spearheading the decision process. The "nuclear option," as one consultant put it, would be to remove the film from best picture contention.

But there's almost no chance the group would do that, according to those familiar with the Academy's voting process. At the most, it would take away Chartier's Oscar tickets -- a slap on the wrist, to be sure, but also an interesting twist, given that Chartier had to wage a battle with the Academy to be included as a producer in the first place. (The movie has four credited producers, and the Academy typically allows only three to take the stage at the Kodak Theatre.)

It could also stop Chartier, who is not a member of the Academy, from joining the body. If he won best picture, Chartier would be eligible for a virtual automatic membership, but the board of governors could take the nearly unprecedented step of rejecting him. But this, too, might be a tough sell. After a brouhaha with "Crash" producer Bob Yari a few years ago over his non-credit for that film resulted in a lawsuit -- costing the Academy money and public standing -- the organization is unlikely to want to risk that kind of fight again.

There's precedent for the Academy scrutinizing the mudslinging -- and not doing much. In the 2003 race, DreamWorks, campaigning for "The House of Sand and Fog," took out an ad that made a similar plea -- it asked voters to choose the movie's Shohreh Aghdashloo for supporting actress over front-runner Renee Zellweger of "Cold Mountain." She stayed in contention (although Zellweger won anyway).

The Academy says it won't announce its decision until after ballots are due next Tuesday, if at all, presumably to avoid interfering with the race. It's a decision that fits with the group's cautionary reputation, but also a strange one. Stories like this already affect the race, and the delay of nearly a week can give the impression that the Academy is soft on negative campaigners, pretty much the last thing it wants to do.

There's another layer of back story to the "Hurt Locker" fracas. Among many of the other principals on the film, Chartier is perceived as an outsider. They've grimaced as he's made some of his publicity moves, including this one. A French American financier who runs a Los Angeles-based company called Voltage Pictures, Chartier is a foreign-sales specialist, and he's uniformly regarded as the driving force in getting "The Hurt Locker" financed and off the ground.

But according to several sources, there's little love lost between him and the film's writer, Mark Boal, and director Kathryn Bigelow. And even though they were said to make bids to get him approved by the Academy, the spin among those working on the film has been to present him as a rogue element who doesn't speak for distributor Summit Entertainment, Boal, Bigelow or a third producer, Greg Shapiro. In an interview with 24 Frames on Thursday about the initial e-mail, Boal said, "I knew nothing about it, I think it's incredibly stupid and wrong and I hope he stops."

Summit also repudiated Chartier's e-mail. "An enthusiastic and naive producer made a mistake," a studio spokesman said. "When we found out about it we asked him to stop immediately, we let the Academy know and he's making amends."

The gambit to put some distance between the film and Chartier will probably be successful, especially when you consider that the movie is up against "Inglourious Basterds," a contender from Harvey Weinstein -- a man known for speaking, er, boldly, about competitive movies.

How much the to-and-fro between competitors has an impact on the final vote is an open question. Four years ago, Lionsgate's Jon Feltheimer, whose company was pushing Oscar hopeful "Crash," caused a ruckus when he said publicly that he had made phone calls on behalf of the film. The Academy took a look; other films wondered if it could prompt a backlash. A few weeks later, "Crash" won best picture.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Jeremy Renner in "The Hurt Locker." Credit: Summit Entertainment


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