AMPAS officials would still prefer that Sacha Baron Cohen comes to the Oscars as himself — and if not, they'd like some advance notice
Despite two days of hysteria whipped up in the media by Sacha Baron Cohen, the comic actor's plans for the Oscar red carpet on Sunday remain anyone's guess. And that is still causing concern within the Academy.
As the title character from his upcoming movie "The Dictator," Baron Cohen began Friday threatening the Academy that he said had "banned" him and ended it declaring "VICTORY!" and posting a photo of himself with a gun and a pair of Oscar tickets.
But the extent of that victory is hardly complete. According to conversations with AMPAS officials who did not wish to be identified, many within the Academy still feel very strongly that the Oscar red carpet is not an appropriate setting for promotional stunts.
But rather than engaging in a war of words with a man adept at manufacturing outrage, AMPAS opted to give him his tickets, which were part of the allotment given to Paramount, which released "Hugo" (in which he appears). They did so while making their preferences clear to the studio and Baron Cohen's reps.
The Academy also asked Paramount and Baron Cohen's team to inform them of his plans, so that logistical arrangements could be made to have the proper security and facilities ready.
While Baron Cohen posted in-character diatribes on the film's website and on YouTube, his reps had not yet given the Academy any information about what he planned to do on Sunday. Producer Brian Grazer, though, told "Extra" that the comic actor would "probably" appear as the Dictator.
Baron Cohen does appear as himself in a pre-taped film package on the show.
"Do we have concerns?" said an Academy official on Friday night. "Yes. Did we say, 'Please stunt the red carpet?' No.
"Will he be coming as the Dictator? Only Sacha knows."