One of the strangest stories in the build-up to the 2012 Oscars has been the Academy apparent decision to ban Sacha Baron Cohen appearing as his latest comic creation ‘The Dictator’ at this year’s event.
Now Cohen, in character as Admiral General Aladeen, has delivered a video threatening the Academy to give him tickets.
Sitting in a garish throne room flanked by guards and self-portraits, he said:
“On behalf of the nation of Wadiya, I am outraged at being banned from the Oscars by the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Zionists.
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“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 12pm on Sunday, you will face unimaginable consequences.”
He berates them for not nominating films like: “classic Wadiyan films such as ‘When Harry Kidnapped Sally’, ‘You've Got Mailbomb’ or ‘Planet Of The Rapes'”.
He adds: “On top of all of this, I paid Hilary Swank $2million to be my date and she will not refund a penny. My Sunday calendar is now as empty as a North Korea grocery store.
“But whatever happens, I still plan to attend director Brett Ratner's afterparty since it's impossible to catch herpes twice. Death to the West, death to America and good luck Billy Crystals - fantastic!”
The bizarre stand-off came to a head earlier this week when it emerged Cohen wanted to appear in character at the ceremony. Oscar bosses have strict rules about plugging films at the event, so, according to Deadline.com, they told Cohen they would take away his ticket unless he dropped the stunt. He was due to appear because he starred in nominated film 'Hugo'.
With the internet buzzing over the Academy's actions, they quickly backtracked and an 'insider' has now told Deadline:
“There’s a debate inside the Academy of how to respond. Certainly the perception is that they lack a sense of humor [sic] which got a strong reaction. They are debating what to do. But so far they have not changed their official position."
Hence today's reaction.
It's not clear whether he'll actually show up on the red carpet in character, but Cohen has already done a good job generating free publicity for his film.
Check out the trailer for 'The Dictator' below. The film is released on 18 May.