Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
It shouldn't come as a surprise that Sacha Baron Cohen, the comedic genius who has given us indelibly outlandish characters such as Borat and Bruno, would want to walk the red carpet at this year's Oscars dressed as his latest indelibly outlandish character: the big-bearded General Aladeen from the upcoming satire The Dictator. And, to be honest, it would probably make for a few great laughs. There's just one problem: The Oscars is supposed to be a classy affair, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says that Baron Cohen can't come -- if he dresses as Aladeen.
Deadline is reporting that the Academy is threatening to pull Cohen's tickets to the show if he doesn't agree to ditch the act. "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," an Oscars representative told Deadline about the situation.
The Academy rep drew a less firm line in the sand when talking to the New York Post, insisting that Baron Cohen, 40, has not been disinvited to the ceremony.
"We have expressed that we don't feel it's appropriate to use our Oscar red carpet as a venue for a movie promotional stunt," said the rep. And if Baron Cohen should agree not to dress as Aladeen -- but then does so anyway? "We'll have to cross that bridge when we get to that."
It does seem a little silly that the Academy is making such a big deal about Cohen's stunt. After all, he's only looking to walk the red carpet as Aladeen, not attend the actual show in that character (he's promised to change into a tuxedo for the ceremony). The argument can be made that the Oscars isn't the best venue to do such in-your-face promotion but, let's face it, many actors don't need a dramatic costume to force their upcoming films down the public's proverbial throat.
And the Oscars could use some livening up this year. The nomination slate doesn't feature a single blockbuster, and the Academy even went so far to pull the one part of the show that could have been really fun: the best original song performances. And that's likely because one of the songs nominated is "Man or Muppet" by Bret McKenzie, and the performance probably would have involved Muppets up on the Oscar stage.
Cohen landed tickets to the event because he's one of the main cast members of Hugo, which is up for 11 Oscars -- the most nominations of any film this year. Sadly, it doesn't seem like we'll get to see the Dictator stroll the red carpet and chat with Ryan Seacrest, but at least Baron Cohen can take solace in one fact: This whole brouhaha has given The Dictator more free publicity than it would have gotten if the Academy had let Sacha dress in character. In the words of Charlie Sheen: Winning!