Sacha Baron Cohen Issues Statement on Oscars 'Dictator' Controversy

Sacha Baron Cohen
Danny Moloshok/AP

The actor says his character will give a press statement on Friday, calling the Academy "Zionists" in the process.

Sacha Baron Cohen knows how to milk a publicity stunt for all it's worth.

The actor, who has rankled the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences with his plans to attend the Oscars as his character from the upcoming comedy The Dictator, is responding to the criticism in the only way he seems to know how: with another publicity stunt.

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Cohen released a statement on the Dictator website on Thursday announcing that he will issue a press statement Friday to address the controversy.

"Admiral General Aladeen will deliver a formal response tomorrow morning to being banned from the Oscars by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Zionists."

Cohen wasn't banned, but the Academy has let him and studio Paramount know that he is not welcome to turn the Oscars red carpet into a publicity stunt for his upcoming movie. The Academy issued another statement Thursday saying he's welcome to attend as a castmember of best picture nominee Hugo if he behaves himself. “The Academy would love to have Sacha at the show," a spokesman tells The Hollywood Reporter. "We’ve let him know how we feel about using the red carpet for a movie stunt and we’re waiting to hear from him.” 

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Still, since THR first revealed Cohen's plans on Tuesday afternoon, he has clearly realized that he can use the fight with the Academy to generate some buzz for the film, to be released in May. 

Cohen has a history of using awards shows and other big events to hype his movies. To help launch Borat in 2006, Cohen arrived at the Toronto International Film Festival dressed up as his TV journalist alter ego, riding a wagon pulled by “Kazakhstani peasant women.” At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, he came as gay fashionista Bruno (to promote Bruno).


Twitter: @THRMattBelloni