Last year, Sacha Baron Cohen — a.k.a Ali G, Borat and Brüno — caused quite the controversy at the MTV Movie Awards when (in character as Brüno) he reverse mounted Eminem while wearing nothing but angel wings and a thong. Eminem looked genuinely pissed, but it was later revealed that the rapper was in-on-the-joke, and that it was all rehearsed... or so they say.
It doesn't look like James Cameron is as good of a sport with the kind self-deprecating hijinks that Baron Cohen had planned. Just a week after being announced as as an Oscar presenter by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Baron Cohen's name has vanished from the list. Why? Apparently Oscar Telecast show producer, Bill Mechanic, pulled the plug on an Avatar sketch planned by Baron Cohen and his Madagascar 1&2 cast mate Ben Stiller.
NYMag reported the details of what the sketch entailed:
Baron Cohen planned to appear onstage as a blue-skinned, female Na’vi, with Stiller translating “her” interplanetary speech. As the skit went on, though, it would become clear that Stiller wasn’t translating properly, because Cohen would grow ever more upset. At its climax, an infuriated Baron Cohen would pull open “her” evening gown to reveal that s/he was pregnant, knocked up with Cameron’s love child, and would go on to confront her baby daddy as if s/he were on Jerry Springer.
Mechanic is quite familiar with Cameron's sense of humor... or lack thereof -- he was head of Twentieth Century Fox when Cameron’s Titanic famously went massively over budget and over schedule. He was worried that Cameron would be so offended by the sketch that he might even walk out of the Oscar broadcast on live TV. Since Best Director and Best Picture are the last awards presented, and Cameron is a frontrunner for both, it would be pretty bad if he wasn't there to accept them
Baron Cohen’s spokesman, Matt Labov, said of the departure:
I hate to use the term, because it's so ubiquitous, but there were ‘creative differences.’ Nothing acrimonious, but both sides felt that since they couldn’t agree, [Cohen] might as well remain in London.
The sketch didn't sound all that funny, so I don't really see the loss. From what I've seen in the interviews Cameron gives, he seems like a pretty easy going guy. But I'm sure Mechanic knows his limits.
Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin will serve as co-hosts of the 82nd annual Academy Awards, which will be held this weekend.