EXCLUSIVE 2ND UPDATE, 4:30 PM: I have just confirmed with Sacha Baron Cohen’s publicist that the comedian will walk on the Red Carpet in character as The Dictator and then attend the Oscars show. He’ll do it with the full approval of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences which initially pulled his tickets and banned him from the 84th Academy Awards being held on Sunday evening.
EXCLUSIVE UPDATE 3:30 PM: Here is how Sacha Baron Cohen, in character as The Dictator, just responded to the Red Carpet and Oscars invite from the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences which earlier this week had banned him the 84th Academy Awards:
“VICTORY IS OURS! Today the Mighty Nation of Wadiya triumphed over the Zionist snakes of Hollywood. Evil and all those who made Satan their protector were vanquished and driven into the Pacific Sea. What I am trying to say here is that the Academy have surrendered and sent over two tickets and a parking pass! TODAY OSCAR, TOMORROW OBAMA!”
EXCLUSIVE 3PM: I can confirm that the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has reversed course and now invited Sacha Baron Cohen to stage his movie publicity stunt on the Red Carpet and then attend the Oscars show. “Does Sacha need a changing room?” the Academy in a conciliatory tone asked one of the actor’s reps today.
Baron Cohen had planned to walk the Red Carpet in character as Middle Eastern General Alladeen and then change into a tuxedo to attend the awards show as himself as part of Paramount’s contingent for Best Picture contender Hugo. (Baron Cohen has a showy role in it.) Paramount, the studio behind The Dictator, tells me that Baron Cohen has not yet decided to go. Others like Oscars telecast producer Brian Grazer and Academy President Tom Sherak are telling media that the comedian is attending and even part of the show. Which begs the question whether the Academy helped orchestrate this publicity stunt with Baron Cohen and Paramount all along. After all, Sherak is a paid marketing consultant for — you guessed it — Paramount.
The studio today denied this was a set-up and claimed to me that the Academy “relented because of all the bad publicity you generated for them to lighten up”. Also Sherak at one point called to “threaten” Baron Cohen’s agency WME, according to an insider who said, “He said this was bad for the Academy and we had to stop Sacha from doing this.” And Baron Cohen’s publicist Matt Labov just explained to me: “The Academy caught wind of our idea and pulled his tickets. They went to war with us, made threats, got embarrassed, panicked, and reversed their position only after the press backlash portrayed them as stodgy. Plain and simple, that’s how it happened.”
But that doesn’t jibe with, for days now, Academy Awards insiders have been saying privately that not only is Baron Cohen coming to the show but also will be featured. Tom Sherak told Good Day LA on Thursday morning that Baron Cohen will be at the Oscars. And Grazer told USA Today: “He’s coming. In fact, he’s even part of the, there’s a piece — he’s part of the show… as himself.” (“He’s in a few of the clip packages for Hugo,” an insider tells me. “I think that’s what Grazer is referencing.” Others tell me Baron Cohen is also one of telecast’s vignettes directed by Moneyball‘s Bennett Miller featuring actors and filmmakers talking about their love of movies.)
This publicity stunt for Baron Cohen’s movie and presumably also Oscars show ratings may backfire on the Academy. Because Sacha in character publicly described, no matter how humorously, the Academy of Motion Picture “Arts & Zionists”. Not only is this a Muslim-Jew issue. But Baron Cohen also fired up the hot button issue of Hollywood and Jews. Let me just say that, because of this, Deadline Hollywood received many anti-Semitic comments about showbiz. (We deleted these comments on the grounds they were disgusting.) (more…)