Oscars Snub Sacha Baron Cohen 2x

Over the past few years, plenty of media pundits have alleged that the Oscar broadcast is in need of some re-jiggering. The standard criticism is that the show skews old, is too out-of-touch, too un-hip for today’s kids (a.k.a. the most vital demographic out there). So when this year’s co-producers Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic were casting about for their new host, they knew they wanted fresh blood, and were unanimous in thinking Sacha Baron Cohen the perfect candidate. (Something different, no?) Except the academy predictably said nix, thinking the man behind Borat and Bruno “too much of a wild card.” Still worse, now it looks as if he won’t even be allowed to present.

Just one week ago, Cohen was announced as a co-presenter with Ben Stiller. Seems the two had cooked up a little spoof in which Cohen would dress us as a pregnant na’vi woman and confront Avatar director James Cameron Springer-style. Only that didn’t make the cut either. Why? Because Mechanic, so recently a Cohen booster, is now afraid that the spirited comic might offend the notoriously thin-skinned Cameron. I can’t pretend to know all the details here, but I find it more than curious to learn that Mechanic went to bat for Cohen as host, then yanked him as a presenter. It makes the earlier story seem fishy, a hedge against potential accusations of having failed to break Oscar’s sustained boring streak. With co-hosts Steve Martin (a veteran of the gig) and Alec Baldwin on board this year, it’s hard to hope for much of a change-up.

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