UPDATED 5:30 PM WITH MORE DETAILS
EXCLUSIVE… BREAKING 3PM… The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has pulled actor Sacha Baron Cohen‘s tickets from the 84th Academy Awards. This means he is banned from attending the Oscars even though he is an Academy member and one of the stars from Hugo, Paramount’s 11-nominated movie and Best Picture contender. “Unless they’re assured that nothing entertaining is going to happen on the Red Carpet, the Academy is not admitting Sacha Baron Cohen to the show,” Paramount just told me. The reason is that a proposal reached the Academy for Baron Cohen to strut the Red Carpet in full costume as his title character in the upcoming Paramount comedy The Dictator. UPDATE AT 5:30 PM: Later today, faced with all the bad publicity resulting from its action, the Academy tried to parse what it did when questioned by some media outlets. But the fact is that, this morning, the Academy’s Managing Director Of Membership Kimberly Rouch phoned Paramont’s awards staff to say Baron Cohen’s tickets had been pulled unless he gives the Academy assurances ahead of time promising not to show up on the Red Carpet in costume and not to promote the movie on the Red Carpet. The Academy made it clear that, without those assurances, it would not issue him the tickets. So he’s banned.*
Of course, the next best thing to that publicity stunt is all the media coverage which this ban is going to generate for Baron Cohen’s film. So the Academy has decided to act like dictators about the actor playing The Dictator. Ugh.
Loosen up, people. Frankly, the Academy looks like uptight wankers with this treatment of one of the globe’s funniest comedians. The Academy merely had to say no when that proposal was presented to it. Everyone involved in the ceremony was adamantly against it on the grounds that it makes a mockery of what Hollywood considers its most prestigious event. Instead, the Academy clearly wants another overly long, ridiculously reverential show about movies no one bothered to see where the best thing about the telecast will be the comeback of popular host Billy Crystal at age 63. (more…)