2:07pm PT by Jackie Strause
Sacha Baron Cohen's Showtime Series Features Controversial Writer Kurt Metzger
Comedian Kurt Metzger has landed his first TV writing gig since causing controversy back in 2016 — and it's on Sacha Baron Cohen's new Showtime show, Who Is America?
The top-secret satire series launched Sunday night, with few details released ahead of its highly anticipated debut. The credits that rolled after the premiere were the first time the show's sizable, all-male writing staff was announced.
Metzger was a staff writer and occasional performer on Amy Schumer's Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer. He created a firestorm on social media in August 2016 with a series of rants mocking sexual assault and rape accusers. Metzger was defending a male Upright Citizens Brigade performer who was banned from the improv theater over sexual assault allegations and the situation snowballed from there.
Commenting on the accusations in a satirical "Jiff Dilfyberg" post that he later deleted after it went viral, Metzger wrote, in part: “Guys I have just heard some disturbing news, this guy Jiff Dilfyberg is a rapist! I know because women said it and that’s all I need! Never you mind who they are. They are women! ALL women are as reliable as my bible! A book that, much like a women, is incapable of lying!"
Two female writers accused Metzger of an online harassment campaign. He eventually apologized, saying, "This is my apology: The fact that I got so inflamed from being taken wrong, this is where I am wrong."
The controversy forced Schumer to speak out about her friend and employee, who was a credited writer on all four seasons of her sketch show. Schumer clarified that she was no longer employing Metzger because Inside Amy Schumer was, in fact, on hiatus for the foreseeable future.
"One of the reasons he's such a great writer and contributor to our television show is because his views are so different from that of mine and most of the other writers," Schumer later said on Charlie Rose. "We butt heads, we get in fights because he infuriates us."
Well ahead of the #MeToo era that would launch the following year — and that would also bring down Rose — Schumer agreed with the longtime talk show host that criticism, like Metzger's, would only discourage people from come forward about being assaulted. "When a woman says they were assaulted, a lot of people's first reaction is to say, 'No, you weren't. What was the situation?' They treat it like the Salem witch trials," she said.
The first episode of the provocative Who Is America? featured the Borat and Ali G star debuting four new characters as he duped a range of unsuspecting targets, including Bernie Sanders, a Laguna Beach, California, art consultant and a group of former and current Republican congressman. The Sunday night series airs for the next six weeks.
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to production; Showtime declined comment.