Sacha Baron Cohen: What he wears on the red carpet could hurt him
Cohen the actor is more than welcome, it seems, as long as he doesn't appear on the Academy Awards red carpet in character and costume as Gen. Aladeen, his alter-ego from "The Dictator," the upcoming comedy in which he plays a political strongman determined to keep democracy out of his oppressed nation.
Academy of Motion Pictures President Tom Sherak told The Times' 24 Frames on Wednesday that he called Paramount, the studio distributing "The Dictator," and told them "it's a bad thing to do" because it would make a mockery of the red carpet.
"He's still invited. We would love for him to come," an Academy Awards rep told the New York Post on Wednesday. "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."
The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday cited sources alleging that the actor, known for his prankish comedy revolving around strong characters, intended to hit the Oscars red carpet in "Dictator" drag. If he shows up in costume or not, the threat alone seems to have generated publicity for "The Dictator," which has a May 11 release date.
It wouldn't be the first time Cohen appeared at an event in character -- witness his turn as flamboyant fashionista Bruno at the 2009 MTV Music Awards, where he was infamously lowered onto the face of one ostensibly disgusted Eminem.
Cohen plays the Station Inspector in "Hugo," which is nominated for 11 Oscars, including best picture. He was Oscar-nominated in 2007 for adapted screenplay for "Borat."
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— Christie D'Zurilla
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Photo: Sacha Baron Cohen with the Year of Excellence Award for "Hugo" during the 12th Annual AFI Awards in Beverly Hills on Jan. 13 in Beverly Hills. Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images