7:31pm PT by Kimberly Nordyke
Sacha Baron Cohen's 'Who Is America?' Targets O.J. Simpson in Season Finale
[This story contains spoilers from the Aug. 26 season finale of Who Is America?]
After targeting Bernie Sanders, Ted Koppel, Roy Moore and The Bachelor's Corinne Olympios throughout the first season of his Showtime satirical comedy Who Is America?, Sacha Baron Cohen managed to pull out a surprise for the season finale: O.J. Simpson.
However, the expected Sarah Palin appearance never materialized. In early July, the one-time Republican vice-presidential candidate wrote a blog post saying she'd been "duped" by Cohen, who was disguised as a disabled veteran: "I join a long list of American public personalities who have fallen victim to the evil, exploitive, sick 'humor' of the British 'comedian' Sacha Baron Cohen, enabled and sponsored by CBS/Showtime." She detailed more of the experience in a follow-up interview on Good Morning America, prompting the only statement from the network and producers in response to outcry from some of the show's unsuspecting subjects.
But at the Television Critics Association press tour earlier this month, Showtime president of programming Gary Levine hinted to reporters that Palin might not make the cut given Cohen's "very high bar." He said Baron Cohen is always "refining" the final edit and added: "All I can say about that is that there are several people who have thrown themselves in front of buses that may not be heading their way."
Baron Cohen did, however, appear to get the final word on the Palin subject: The finale episode labeled her as Special Publicity Consultant (Inadvertent) in the final credits.
Ahead of the episode, the comedian took to Twitter to share a promo clip of the finale, an episode that he said would be the "last EVER" of the show. That comment, however, comes not long after Showtime Networks president and CEO David Nevins said he was "dying" to bring the show back for more episodes.
Here's who Baron Cohen did dupe in the episode that aired Sunday night:
Target: O.J. Simpson
Character: Gio Monaldo, a "billionaire playboy and fashion photographer from Milan"
What Happened: As part of a foreign satire of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous dubbed La Vita Diamante di Gio, Gio heads to Las Vegas to catch up with O.J. Simpson, described in the intro as "an American hero and women's rights activist." Gio introduces his girlfriend Christina, who has no idea who Simpson is, even after Gio explains he is a "Buffalo Bill" and appeared in the Naked Gun films. Gio then makes stabbing motions with his hand, and Christina then recognizes him. "She knows that, oh Jesus," Simpson replies, laughing and then shaking his head. When Christina leaves, Simpson comments that she's "gorgeous." "She's gorgeous but sometimes I want to kill her," Gio says. "I want to send her on a private helicopter and throw her over the Grand Canyon — oopsie daisie!" He gives Simpson a high five, before Simpson says "Stop," laughing. They then joke about having her do a bungee jump where the cord just happens to be so long. Gio also says he wants to be introduced to Simpson's defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran. Simpson replies: "I would have to introduce you in the afterlife," Simpson says. "What you didn't kill him too, did you?" Gio asks. "Stop, Simpson says again, laughing. Gio then grills Simpson about "how you got away with it" after saying his ex-wife died under unusual circumstances. "Me and you, we got something in common. We both, how you say, 'ladykillers.'" Simpson, laughing, responds by saying, "No, I didn't kill nobody." "Ah, I didn't either," Cohen replies.
Response: None as of air.
Target: Barney Frank, former Democratic congressman from Massachusetts
Character: Dr. Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr. Ph.D.
What Happened: Ruddick, a Trump fan, brings up what he calls "vaginal-gate," where CNN "scurrilously tried to imply that the president had said horrendous things about women, which was completely untrue." Frank says Ruddick is "deluded," and Ruddick then says that sound on the infamous Access Hollywood tape — in which Trump said about women that men who are famous can "grab 'em by the pussy" —had been edited. In fact, Ruddick said, Billy Bush had been talking about "a rat infestation that he had," playing a video for Frank that the latter called a "fabrication," for obvious reasons. Ruddick then asked if Frank supported "crooked Hillary" and asked him to admit that Clinton was "running a pedophile underneath a pizza restaurant," showing "proof" — a receipt from the pizza parlor saying "child — free." "They were giving away children for free — that is sick," Ruddick says. Frank then gets up and walks away as Ruddick asks, "But do you agree that North Korea is controlling the news? I'll take that as a yes."
Response: None as of air.
Target: Glenn, Darren and Cody
Character: Lt. Erran Morad, anti-terror expert
What Happened: "Today, the Biggest terror threat in America comes from radical liberals called antifa," Morad says in an intro. Hoping to find "a warrior to help me on my mission," Morad goes to "America's heartland" to interview one of three contestants, all of whom have already proven their courage by anonymously attacking women, immigrants and homos on the internet." Asked who the dangerous terror group in America is, the trio agree it's "antifa," whom Glenn describes as the "anti-fascists who want to take down everything our current president is doing right." Asked what will happen to America if the fascists are eliminated, Glenn says: "We will become a shithole country." Morad then puts them through a training of "how to become a liberal," asking questions like how long quinoa needs to cook ("I don't even know what that is," says one) and then brings up Lena Dunham, saying that liberals use questions like "What is your favorite episode of Girls?" as a "code word." He then describes a specific episode and advises them to use it as an answer and puts them to the test of "acting like a liberal" by quizzing them at length about the characters and storylines of Girls. "What is the aim of the #MeToo movement?" Morad asks Cody, who replied: "Take over the world. ... Kill all the men." Morad also then says they have to learn to "compliment" other men to pass as a liberal and then puts them through a training on "how to be a radical lesbian," giving them specific phrases to use like "I hate penises." Finally, Morad says that to pass as liberals, they have to prove they aren't Trump supporters. "That will be hard, but I will do it," Glenn says, while they all take turns hitting a Trump dummy with dildos as Glenn then simulates anal sex with the dummy. So who wins? Glenn, who wins a trip to San Francisco to put his skills to the test at a women's march and is told to push a button that will make a small detonation device attached to a person's clothing explode in the name of "foiling a terror plot." He does, and then says: "I've never participated in someone's death. ... I feel queasy."
Response: None as of air.