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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An Army sergeant on Tuesday sued the makers of Oscar-nominated film "The Hurt Locker" five days before the Academy Awards, claiming the central character in the film is based on him.
Master Sergeant Jeffrey S. Sarver believes screenwriter Mark Boal based "virtually all of the situations" in the film on events involving him and claims he coined the phrase "the hurt locker," according to a statement from lawyer Geoffrey Fieger in Southland, Michigan, who is representing Sarver.
A news conference is planned for Wednesday at Fieger's offices, at which time more details are expected on what Sarver's lawyers said was a "multimillion dollar suit."
The film's distributor, Summit Entertainment, issued its own statement on Tuesday reiterating the movie's claim that it is a "fictional account" about soldiers in the battlefield.
"We have no doubt that Master Sergeant Sarver served his country with honor and commitment risking his life for a greater good, but we distributed the film based on a fictional screenplay written by Mark Boal," Summit said.
Boal was a journalist in Iraq embedded with a squad that dismantled bombs, and he wrote a story about them for Playboy magazine. He developed his story into a screenplay about the soldiers and focused on one in particular, Will James. From that screenplay came the movie.
Sarver claims Boal was embedded with Sarver's unit and that he is James. Sarver says James' nickname in the movie, "Blaster One," was Sarver's "call signal" while in Iraq.
The movie has wowed critics and earned nine nominations for Oscars, and it is widely considered the frontrunner for best film when the awards are given out on March 7 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The lawsuit is the second, recent problem for "The Hurt Locker." Late last month, one of the film's producers, Nicolas Chartier, wrongly sent an e-mail to Academy members casting a competing film in a derogatory light.
The Academy on Tuesday stripped Chartier of his ticket to the upcoming ceremony -- the same day voting for the coveted awards ended.
Editing by Sandra Maler