Bids flying for 'Borat' follow-up

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"Bruno," Sacha Baron Cohen's follow-up movie to "Borat," triggered an intense bidding war in Hollywood on Thursday.

By early evening, sources said Universal Pictures had made an offer of more than $42 million for worldwide rights to the film and was believed to be the leading contender to snare the movie. Other contenders believed to be eying the project included DreamWorks, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. Pictures.

As in the case of "Borat," Jay Roach would produce with Baron Cohen. No director is on board, though it has been reported that Baron Cohen wants to shoot the movie in the summer.

In "Bruno," Baron Cohen will call upon another of his comic alter egos, Bruno, a gay fashionista from Austria. Bruno fancies himself as "the voice of Austrian youth TV." In his appearances on "Da Ali G Show," the character sashayed from New York Fashion Week to Miami nightclubs.

Fox is releasing "Borat" on Nov. 3. Baron Cohen's ambush comedy was unveiled at a late-night sneak preview at the Festival de Cannes in May, and buzz around the film has been steadily building as Baron Cohen has promoted it with several stunts -- like visiting the West Gate of the White House to invite President Bush to a screening -- in which he never breaks character. However, concerned that the movie wasn't registering strongly enough in tracking polls, Fox has scaled back its opening to about 800 theaters in hopes of building strong word-of-mouth before expanding into more theaters.

Baron Cohen is repped by Endeavor.
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