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Kathryn Bigelow, Summit Fight Back In ‘Hurt Locker’ Suit With Army Vet

The Oscar winning director, the studio and screenwriter Mark Boal say the First Amendment protects them in use of elements of Jeffrey Sarver’s life in The Hurt Locker. “By any reasonable measure, the film must be considered a ‘transformative’ work of artistic expression that is protected by the First Amendment,” they said in an 87-page brief (read it here) submitted earlier this week to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief goes on to say that there are only “generic similarities” between Sarver and the William James character played by Jeremy Renner in the 2008 film. This case may sound familiar. The former US Army explosive technician Master Sargent had his initial invasion of privacy 2010 suit against Bigelow, Boal and others dismissed in October 2011. At that time, Sarver was ordered to pay $187,000 in lawyers’ fees to Bigelow, Boal, Summit and the Hurt Locker production. The former Master Sgt. appealed that ruling last November. In his own brief (read it here) filed on July 2 against Playboy as well as Bigelow, Boal and others, the veteran claimed that the film’s use of his life was not transformative at all, that it violated his right of publicity and First Amendment rights have to balanced against his own right of privacy. Bigelow, Boal and Summit’s lawyers disagree. “Appellant cannot state a cause of action for … Read More »

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Judge Dismisses ‘Hurt Locker’ Lawsuit

By | Thursday October 13, 2011 @ 12:41pm PDT

U.S. District Court Judge Jacqueline Nguyen has dismissed a lawsuit against the filmmakers behind Oscar Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker that alleged they improperly used the likeness of an actual soldier, Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver. Sarver filed the suit before the Oscars, claiming screenwriter Mark Boal based the film — and its lead character, played by Jeremy Renner — on him and presented him in a false light. Today, Nguyen disagreed, saying “the value of The Hurt Locker unquestionably derived from the creativity and skill of the writers, directors, and producers who conceived, wrote, directed, edited, and produced it.”

Boal was embedded in Sarver’s unit in 2004 and wrote about him and other bomb-disposal experts in Playboy magazine, a story that became the basis for the film. Said Boal today: “The Hurt Locker was inspired by many soldiers I met and interviewed during my time reporting in Iraq and elsewhere. It was a disservice to all of those other soldiers for Sgt. Sarver to claim that he was the only soldier that was the basis for the hero of the film.”

The lawyer for Sarver, who was ordered to pay the defendant’s attorneys’ fees, said they will appeal the ruling.

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Hammond: PGA Doesn’t Follow Oscar Lead

Pete Hammond

Producers Guild’s 2012 Awards Schedule

As the announcement indicates, the PGA is following status quo, not Oscar, which is a bit of a surprise. Despite its close relationship with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Producers Guild of America today confirmed it will not be following Oscar’s lead this time and is sticking to nominating a full slate of 10 films for it Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures category. Like the Academy , this is the model the Guild followed for the past two awards cycles and it has decided ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.  It’s significant because the Guild , which vets all eligible producer nominees not only for their own awards but also for the Academy,  immediately fell in line when Oscar moved from five to ten nominees in 2009 doing the exact same thing.  At the time a high ranking person in the PGA told me their professional relationship with the Academy really necessitated falling in line with Oscar for the PGA awards too. Not this time though.

The Academy announced a new Best Picture change on June 14 where in an effort to inject some added suspense and surprise into the process they instituted a new system that could produce five to ten nominees based on a method that requires at 5% of first … Read More »

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