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Rumors are swirling that Sacha Baron Cohen, whose movie Hugo is nominated at this year's Academy Awards, might be banned from the awards show based on fear that he'll use the red carpet to promote his new movie The Dictator, i.e. show up as his Saddam Hussein-inspired character.
However, after initial reports, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences released a statement saying the comedian's Oscar tickets hadn't been pulled, as previously reported. "We haven't banned him," said a spokesperson. "We're just waiting to hear what he's going to do." The spokesperson also added that the members of the Academy "don't think it's appropriate" for Cohen to "hijack" the red carpet with his usual schtick.
Cohen's camp hasn't commented, but worries about his red-carpet plans could cause serious issues, given the Academy's staunch rules against promotion for specific films and studios during the Oscars — the telecast only recently was allowed to even run ads for movies during the commercial breaks. Without agreeing ahead of time not to promote The Dictator on the red carpet, he'll likely be banned from the show.
Cohen also ran in into trouble with Academy back in 2007, when he pulled out of duties as an Oscar presenter after being told he wouldn't be allowed to do so in character as Borat. I sort of get why the Academy doesn't want unnecessary distractions from a guy promoting a film that isn't even nominated, but really, does anyone actually care enough that it makes sense to "ban" him from the show? It doesn't seem like this will do much to help the show's image as stuffy and outdated.