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[Updated:] Cortines steamed over 'Bruno' photo shoot

This is one of those only-in-L.A.-and-even-then-it's-a-little-too-weird-to-be-true stories.

The latest issue of GQ features a cover story about comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, in his new guise as gay Austrian fashionista "Bruno." What brought it to our attention was that GQ includes photos shot at L.A.'s Birmingham High School, featuring the barely clad Cohen cavorting with the Birmingham football team. An online slide show shows Cohen wearing shoulder pads, tight red shorts, an athletic cup and little else while engaging in "drills" with the team, in one case lying on top of a player he has evidently just "tackled."

At most, we're talking about a PG rating (for the photo shoot, not the new movie). But inasmuch as it did involve minors at a public high school, there are those who are not amused.

In particular, the stunt has incensed Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, adding fuel to a debate over whether Birmingham, in Lake Balboa, should be allowed to convert to a charter school. The charter conversion is up for a vote before the school board Wednesday. "This recent GQ thing has not helped matters," Cortines said today. "We’ve allowed our students to be used, and not in the most glamorous circumstances, either."

Daily News on Saturday quoted the superintendent as blaming Birmingham Principal Marcia Coates and Athletic Director Rick Prizant, both of whom have been among those spearheading the drive to remove the school from day-to-day district oversight and become a charter. But Cortines said today that Coates is responsible, not Prizant, and he has asked local district Supt. Jean Brown "to take the appropriate action." He did not say what that would be. (A mandatory viewing of "Borat," perhaps?)

Coates said she had been told not to comment on the matter, and Prizant said he similarly would not respond. Brown did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Mitchell Landsberg

[Updated at 5 p.m. with comment from Jean Brown and a clarification from Cortines:

Brown called to say that "Local District 1, on behalf of Birmingham, is very embarrassed by what has happened, and very disappointed in the judgment that allowed the students to participate in this activity.” She said she was attempting to determine who was responsible, after which "we'll decide what our next steps are going to be." She added that she was unfamiliar with Cohen and his movies but found the "nature of the poses" to be inappropriate.

Through a spokesman, Cortines called to say he hadn't intended to say that Prizant wasn't responsible, only that Coates was ultimately responsible.]

Comments () | Archives (31)

I have a question for Mr. Cortines. What did you do when you were in a meeting at Birmingham that was held by an anti- charter group and two of your anti charter staff pushed two of your staff that are pro-charter? Never mind i know the the answer you did NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!! This whole thing is political and that is what Mr. Cortines is concerned with not the kids. We all know that if this was a girl dressed like this we would not be having this conversation.

besides the outfit, the bigger outrage is these kids were exploited to sell a film.

By a lowest common denominator comedian.


What Sacha Baron Cohen did as Bruno was harmless. Ramon Cortines is just looking for a reason to stop the school from becoming a charter. If Bruno was with the High School football team then the kids would have been ages 16 to 18. Minors right? By law yes. This day and age those kids know what heck is going on in this world, especially in public school. This shouldn’t even be news. There are more important subjects this guy could focusing his energy on.

What about Will Ferrel showing up at SC practices in a tight bathing suit. He is also promoting himself.....The district are a bunch of idiots

Cortines needs to move on. He has bigger issues at hand. The district is failing in many ways. This was harmless. The football players could've walked away if they felt uncomfortable. Instead, they laughed until they could no longer breath, I'm sure. Cortines, lay off.

Cortines is typical of do nothing BS administrators.

He should worry about gangbangers in schools and drugs and quit harassing a really good school with students who actually like being there.

You talk about fun, these football players are in GQ mag, posed with the hottest comedian and get their 15 minutes of fame. Why should parents or students be pissed.

Cortines needs to get a sense of perspective and maybe 15 minutes of "drill" time with Bruno.

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