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Academy eyes actor's role in screener bust

Caridi already being sued by Warner Bros., Columbia
/ Source: Hollywood Reporter

After the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences meets Tuesday night, veteran actor Carmine Caridi -- one of the man at the center of an FBI movie piracy probe -- probably won’t have to worry about returning his Oscar ballot on time.

A 22-year member of the Academy, Caridi figures in the ongoing FBI investigation into pirated Academy “screener” videos, and he’s also been sued by both Warner Bros. Pictures and Columbia Pictures for copyright infringement.

According to an FBI affidavit, the actor has admitted to sending his screeners for such films as “Mystic River” and “Something’s Gotta Give” to Russell Sprague of Chicago, though he claimed to be unaware that Sprague, whom he thought was a “film buff,” was duplicating the tapes. Sprague, in a separate FBI interview, said he had sent copies of the tapes back to Caridi.

In order to receive screeners this year, Caridi signed the Academy agreement in which he promised “not to allow the screeners to circulate outside my residence or office” and that “violation of this agreement will be considered grounds for expulsion.”

Caridi’s violation of that agreement and his consequent expulsion is expected to be on the agenda Tuesday when the Academy’s board of governors holds a regularly scheduled meeting. The board also may take up the case of a second member, Ivan Kruglak. Copies of a screener intended for Kruglak surfaced on eBay, though Kruglak has said he has no idea how that happened, and a resolution to his case may take longer for the Academy to decide.

In past years, the Academy has expelled members for violations like selling tickets to the Oscars, but if he is expelled, Caridi would become the first Academy member booted for violating the screener agreement meant to prevent unauthorized use of awards-season screeners.