Sacha Baron Cohen as the Dictator? Fine by Oscars' Brian Grazer
This post has been updated, as indicated below.
Sacha Baron Cohen had the tables turned on him Friday by Oscars producer Brian Grazer, who extended a sort of red carpet invite to the actor to show up Sunday in a tux or in the military regalia of "The Dictator's" Adm. Gen. Shabazz Aladeen.
"We're thrilled to have him and he'll be on the red carpet, I guess, dressed as the Dictator," Grazer told "Extra" on Friday, noting that Cohen also would participate during the award show, where he'd appear as himself.
[Updated, 5:15 p.m. Feb. 24: Tweeting on the @RepublicWadiya account, the general celebrated his triumph: "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!"
Cohen will walk the Oscars red carpet in character with the academy's approval, his publicist told Deadline on Friday afternoon.]
But can Grazer actually lift the quasi-"ban" that's at the center of this made-for-Hollywood "controversy"?
He's been pretty busy getting the whole production ready, and he might not have heard Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' President Tom Sherak's message to Cohen earlier in the week: that showing up in character garb ahead of the Oscars on Sunday would be "a bad thing to do" because it would make a mockery of the red carpet.
Mockery or not, one thing is certain: In the news lull that befalls Hollywood before the Academy Awards, Cohen certainly has generated a ton of publicity for "The Dictator," which we feel compelled to mention opens in theaters May 11.
As Aladeen, he appeared on the "Today" show Friday, bantering with the hosts and threatening "unforeseen and unimaginable consequences" if his tickets -- presumably still in Cohen's possession -- were not "returned" by midday Sunday.
Photo: Sacha Baron Cohen as the Station Inspector in "Hugo." Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / Paramount Pictures