6:08pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Sacha Baron Cohen: 'Who Is America?' Won't Return for Season 2
Showtime's controversial comedy Who Is America? will not return for a second season, according to star, creator and executive producer Sacha Baron Cohen.
"No," Baron Cohen told Scott Feinberg after being asked if there would be a second season of the show as part of a rare out-of-character interview this week for The Hollywood Reporter's 'Awards Chatter' podcast. "I will never be able to get a politician to bare his buttocks while screaming 'God bless America!' and screaming the N-word."
Baron Cohen also noted that he doesn't really have other characters ready to go if he were to change his mind and do another season of the Showtime comedy. "It's like The Ali G Show in England — I did one season. And the idea is not to make it a Seinfeld or an SNL," he added, noting that the idea of spending five hours in makeup every day was not an appealing process he'd like to revisit. "It is grueling … I'm too lazy to do this."
Showtime declined comment about the future of Who Is America? (though it's unclear if the network would actually confirm a renewal given the level of secrecy that surrounded the show, which wasn't announced until a week before its premiere). Showtime chief David Nevins, recently promoted to CBS chief creative officer, told reporters in August that he was "dying" to bring Who Is America? back for additional installments. The seven-episode series, which was filmed in secret, wrapped Aug. 26. The comedy — which featured Baron Cohen taking on multiple identities to get people ranging from politicians to celebrities to everyday individuals to admit to absurd things on camera — continues to be a topic in the press amid pending litigation.
"[The controversy] has been helpful," Nevins said at the time. "Everything we did about it was unconventional. We kept secret a show that was in process for more than a year. We kept quiet until a week before it was on the air. [Baron Cohen] has a remarkable ability to make noise. I think it's remarkable what he's achieved ... and I think Sacha is one of the great comedians of our time. He's the Daniel Day-Lewis of comedy."
Who Is America? wrapped its run with an average of 3.4 million weekly viewers. The series helped drive record sign-ups to Showtime's streaming service and ranked as one of the summer's ratings winners.
Baron Cohen is a best actor in a TV musical or comedy Golden Globe nominee this year for Who Is America? During the full hour-plus interview, which will post to THR's 'Awards Chatter' podcast on Thursday, Baron Cohen opens up as never before about his pre-fame life, the roots of his comedy style and characters, and many of the most colorful segments from — and controversies related to — his most recent show, on which the likes of Dick Cheney, Joe Arpaio and O.J. Simpson appeared.