Academy To Sacha Baron Cohen: “No Dictator At Oscars!”
Contrary to early rumors, Sacha Baron Cohen has not has his invitation to the Academy Awards pulled. After reports that Cohen planned to show up on the Red Carpet as his character General Aladeen from his new comedy "The Dictator", the Academy made it clear that Cohen can attend the awards show, but cannot come in character,
"We've made our position clear to Mr. Cohen's team. We'd love to have him at the show, but the ball is in his court."
"The position we took was, 'We would not like you to do this.' We're just waiting to hear back from him. We'd love to have him at the show, to have him celebrate with the rest of the Hugo team, and we're just waiting.
Cohen is set to attend the Oscars this Sunday to support his latest film "Hugo", which leads this year with 11 nominations including Best Picture and Best Director.
Cohen, who is known for never breaking character in public, is rumored to show up as General Aladeen on the red carpet, but drop character once he was inside and change into a regular tuxedo. The Academy is hoping to distance itself from other awards shows like the MTV Movie Awards where Cohen angered a few people, like Eminem, when he shoved his bare butt into Eminem's face while in his character Bruno to promote his new film. And that's another reason why the Academy doesn't want Cohen there in character,
"Our tradition has been to not use our carpet as a location for promotional stunts. To give some background, we also don't introduce presenters as 'star of the upcoming movie...Will Ferrell.' We keep that piece out of the show.
"Other shows do that, but at our show, it's just, 'Ladies and gentlemen, Will Ferrell.' We don't have promotional clutter going through our telecast. It's all about the celebration of movies we've seen."
While I can understand the standpoint the Academy is taking here, I also think they should consider a change or two to their traditions in the interest of ratings. The Academy Awards broadcasts over the past several years have seen a dip in ratings and heavy criticism over lack-luster hosts like James Franco and Anne Hathaway last year. After a embracing the controversy, ratings for The Golden Globes have gone up with Rickey Gervais hosting. If the Academy were to allow people like Cohen to show up in character, it might upset some of the older members of the Academy (where 85% are over the age of 50), but imagine the number of people that would tune in just to watch that.