Sacha Baron Cohen follows Oscars stunt with new Paramount deal
Fresh off a publicity stunt at the Academy Awards promoting his upcoming film "The Dictator," Sacha Baron Cohen has signed a new deal to produce and star in more movies for Paramount Pictures -- even after he slipped away without actually attending the Oscarcast.
After ginning up huge press coverage about whether he would be allowed to attend the Oscars -- including a phone-in appearance on the "Today" show -- Cohen walked the red carpet in costume as his "Dictator" character Gen. Aladeen. After promising Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences officials not to disrupt the Oscars broadcast, Cohen was given sixth row tickets to watch the ceremony on the condition that he change out of his "Dictator" get-up and into formal attire, a person familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly said.
But after walking the carpet and throwing what he claimed were the ashes of deceased North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il on Ryan Seacrest, Cohen never took his seat in the Hollywood & Highland theater. Rather, he was shown into a dressing room inside the theater, where he changed into a tuxedo and then went out a back door to a party off-site, the person confirmed. A spokesman for Cohen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Oscars stunt provided a marketing boost to "The Dictator," which will be released by Paramount on May 11.
Under the new deal, Paramount will make Cohen's next film in which he stars as well. The agreement also gives the British star, who made his name on television with "Da Ali G Show," funds to develop new movie projects with his production company Four By Two Films. For the next three years, Paramount will have a first right of refusal on every movie developed by Four By Two.
-- Nicole Sperling and Ben Fritz
Photo: Sacha Baron Cohen on the Academy Awards red carpet Sunday. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times