A producer of The Hurt Locker has apologized for sending e-mails urging Academy Award voters to cast a ballot for his film rather than "a $500 million film" - meaning the other leading best-picture contender, Avatar.
The e-mails sent by Nicolas Chartier, one of the four producers nominated for best-picture nominee The Hurt Locker, violated the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rule against sending mailings that "attempt to promote any film or achievement by casting a negative light on a competing film or achievement," academy spokeswoman Leslie Unger told The Associated Press. The academy is considering taking action against Chartier.
In one of the e-mails, Chartier encouraged voters to rank The Hurt Locker No. 1 and Avatar at No. 10 in the preferential ballot, which contains 10 films this year. After the academy alerted the film's distributor, Summit Pictures, Chartier apologized.
"My naivetÃÂ©, ignorance of the rules and plain stupidity as a first-time nominee is not an excuse for this behavior and I strongly regret it," Chartier said in an e-mail obtained by the AP. "Being nominated for an academy Award is the ultimate honor and I should have taken the time to read the rules."
Neither Avatar's distributor, 20th Century Fox, nor director James Cameron have commented on the e-mails. The academy will announce its plans to discipline Chartier some time after Oscar voting closes Tuesday evening.
Chartier could face public censure, not be allowed to attend the ceremony, or even have The Hurt Locker removed from contention, though that's unlikely.
The 82nd Academy Awards airs Sunday, March 7 at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.