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Bruno: Michael Jackson jokes no longer funny [Updated]

June 26, 2009 |  9:59 am

Updated with Universal Statement.

Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is a fearless, equal-opportunity offender, but when it comes to jokes about Michael Jackson in Cohen's new film "Bruno," there apparently are limits: at the last minute, "Bruno's" filmmakers have cut out a sequence about Jackson and his sister, La Toya.

When the film was shown to audiences several weeks ago, "Bruno" included a scene where Cohen's title character -- a flamboyant Austrian fashion journalist -- conducts staged interviews with C-list celebrities, including Paula Abdul and La Toya Jackson. When Cohen's Bruno character is interviewing La Toya, he asks about Michael Jackson and then takes La Toya's personal digital assistant and begins looking for Michael's telephone number.

Cohen then begins dictating some numbers in German to an assistant (the suggestion is that they are Michael's phone number) as La Toya becomes increasingly alarmed by Cohen's conduct, which includes using kneeling Mexican laborers as chairs). Soon thereafter, La Toya leaves in the middle of the interview.

But when "Bruno" was shown to Hollywood insiders at the film's Thursday night premiere, the scene was nowhere to be found. The sequence was apparently deleted between Michael Jackson's death in the middle of the afternoon and the commencement of the screening around 8 p.m.

Universal Studios, the film's producer and distributor, issued a statement saying the scene was removed out of respect to the Jackson family.

-- John Horn

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