Blue funk: Baron Cohen dropped from Oscars
British comic reported to be out because Avatar sketch might upset James Cameron
An appearance by Sacha Baron Cohen - better known in Hollywood for his alter egos Borat and Bruno (above) - is reported to have been dropped from this Sunday's Oscar ceremony for fear that he might offend James Cameron, the director of best picture contender Avatar. As one LA gossip put it delicately, Cameron "isn't known to be, shall we say, self-deprecating."
It seems Baron Cohen has been dropped from the list of presenters - only a week after his name was announced - because he planned to do a sketch with the actor Ben Stiller which would take the mickey out of Avatar and Cameron.
The proposed sketch has Baron Cohen appearing as a blue-skinned female Na'vi and Stiller translating her native patois for the Oscar audience. So far so good.
However, it turns out that Stiller isn't correctly translating Baron Cohen's remarks. Baron Cohen becomes upset and suddenly opens 'her' Na'vi evening gown to reveal that she's pregant - by Cameron. 'She' then goes on to confront the child's 'father' in a 'Jerry Springer' denouement.
According to New York magazine's Vulture column, the sketch was ruled out by Oscar ceremony co-producer Bill Mechanic, who knew from having run 20th Century Fox when Cameron made Titanic at the studio that he would not be amused.
The Academy has not commented on the possible sense of humour failure of the most successful director in the history of Hollywood, but it has confirmed that Baron Cohen is no longer on the presenters' list. A spokesman for Baron Cohen would say only that he was no longer presenting because of "creative differences".
The episode suggests that the Academy's much-vaunted wish to make the ceremony more "youth-oriented", with a slew of top comedians presenting awards, has already hit the rocks. Comedians still due to appear include Stiller, Tina Fey and Steve Carell. TV audiences will find out on Sunday night how brave they're prepared to be with their material. ·
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