Murdoch's 'Borat 2' news raises eyebrows


In the second time in as many days, Rupert Murdoch seems to be jumping the gun on announcing news within News Corp.'s operations.

The chairman and CEO of the media conglomerate said Thursday at Media Summit New York, an event produced by Digital Hollywood and presented by McGraw-Hill, that Sacha Baron Cohen has signaled that he will do a "Borat" sequel with Fox.

"He will do a sequel," Murdoch said in an onstage interview. "He will first do something else ... then he wants to come back and do a 'Borat 2.' "

That doesn't appear to be quite accurate. While it is true that Baron Cohen is going off to do "something else," specifially the "Bruno" picture that Universal recently locked up for a reported $42 million. According to Twentieth Century Fox -- the producers behind the first "Borat" that has generated more than $128 million in domestic grosses -- the company has had preliminary discussions with the British comedian, but nothing is even close to a real project.

"We're eager to work with Sacha again, and we've had casual discussions about a sequel, which we'd love to do, but at this point it remains too preliminary to discuss," said Chris Petrikin, senior vp, corporate communications at Fox.

On Wednesday, Murdoch told analysts and journalists following New Corp.'s second-quarter earnings call, that an announcement to the timing of the launch of the Fox Business Channel would be in the next week. News Corp. president and COO Peter Chernin had to step into the call, suggesting the announcement would be "soon" but declined to be more specific (HR 2/8).

What does remain clear is Murdoch's enthusiasm for Baron Cohen's humor.

The Australian media mogul called "Borat," "a pretty clever picture" that "subtly made Americans laugh at themselves." The media mogul also said he saw it three times. He shared with the audience that after a screening in the News Corp. building with friends and colleagues, "we laughed like hell," then went for dinner and laughed more.

Murdoch does remain a bit more skeptical about the prospects for a sequel. Films like that "don't necessarily repeat themselves easily," he said.

We'll have to wait and see if "Borat" repeats itself at all.