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The Academy seems to have recognized that it’s better off with Sacha Baron Cohen at the Oscars than without him.
Days after informing the ribald comic actor that his plans for roaming the red carpet as his character from The Dictator would not be a good idea, a producer of the show is saying Cohen is now welcome to use Hollywood’s biggest night to plug his movie, to be released May 11.
“We’re thrilled to have him and he’ll be on the red carpet dressed as The Dictator,” Brian Grazer told Extra.
Cohen responded by posting a ticker tape message on his Republic of Wadiya web site that read: “Victory is ours! Today the Mighty Nation of Wadiya triumphed over the Zionist snakes of Hollywood. Evil and all those who made Satan their protector were vanquished and driven into the Pacific Sea. What I am trying to say here is that the Academy have surrendered and sent over two tickets and a parking pass! Today Oscar, tomorrow Obama!”
An Academy spokesperson said she had not heard about the plans for Cohen, but if the welcome mat stays unfurled, Cohen will have succeeded in pulling off one of the more brazen publicity stunts in recent Hollywood history. The Oscars, viewed by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, will give Cohen and The Dictator a huge promotional platform.
Since THR first revealed Tuesday afternoon that Cohen planned to attend the show in character, the actor and Paramount — which is releasing both Dictator and Cohen’s Hugo, which is nominated for best picture — have gone into overdrive to capitalize on the publicity opportunity.
Earlier Friday, Cohen issued a video message in character promising to punish the “Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Zionists” if it did not issue him tickets to the show by Sunday. (In reality, Cohen’s tickets were never pulled, and he was never “banned” from the Oscars, as some outlets reported.)
But the Academy was initially not supportive of Cohen’s plans, citing fears that he might upstage some of the nominees and other Hollywood dignitaries that attend the annual celebration of the year in movies.
Now, thanks to the huge press attention the flap/stunt has generated, the Academy apparently has recognized that audiences might tune in just to see what Cohen will do, and the possible jump in ratings is worth the risk of Cohen doing something crass or embarrassing.
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