Sacha Baron Cohen's Dictator "outraged" at Oscar "ban"
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, dressed as "The Dictator," voiced his "outrage" at Oscars organizers on Friday for banning his character from the award show's red carpet, although the actor is not barred and will be part of the show.
It appears Cohen, who has mastered impromptu promotional stunts with other characters Borat and Bruno, is up to his old tricks again. After all, his movie "The Dictator" is due in theaters this year, and he needs to lure people to box offices.
Dressed as fictional dictator Admiral General Aladeen in medal-adorned military regalia, Cohen branded Oscar organizers "zionists" for banning him from the Hollywood film awards this Sunday. A video of Aladeen's speech posted online shows him in a gilded chair surrounded by guards and paintings of himself.
"While I applaud the Academy for taking away my right to free speech, I warn you that if you do not lift your sanctions and give me my tickets back by 12 p.m. on Sunday, you will face unimaginable consequences," the comedian shouted while wagging his finger at the camera.
The humor-laced video follows media reports earlier this week that Cohen was banned from the Oscars because he planned to turn up as Aladeen, the central character of his upcoming comedy film "The Dictator" that is set to land in theaters in May.
Oscar organizers later said he was barred as Aladeen the character, but welcome as Cohen the actor.
By Thursday, program producer Brian Grazer had told entertainment TV show Access Hollywood that not only was Cohen allowed to come to Sunday's awards ceremony, he was part of the show as himself and not in character.
"Sacha Baron Cohen, we absolutely respect him as an artist and he's allowed to come. He's coming," Grazer told the show.
Academy representatives were not immediately available, rather conspicuously, for comment on Friday.
Aladeen is Cohen's outlandish comedy character for the upcoming mockumentary film "The Dictator." Aladeen is the oppressive ruler of fictional Middle Eastern country the Republic of Wadiya and is hellbent on keeping democracy at bay during his reign of terror.
Cohen has previously pulled publicity stunts dressed as characters from his other films, including turning up as Kazakhstani TV reporter Borat in a wagon pulled by a "peasant woman" at Toronto Film Festival in 2006 for the film's release.
At the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009, dressed as his gay Austrian fashion journalist Bruno to promote the movie "Bruno," Cohen descended from the ceiling strapped in a harness and landed smack in Eminem's face. The rapper stormed out of the audience, only to admit later that it was all a planned stunt.
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)
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