Credit: Paramount Pictures
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UPDATE [8:43 PM EST]: An Academy spokesperson has told The Hollywood Reporter that Cohen has in fact not been banned from the 2012 Oscar ceremony, but that they also do not welcome a publicity stunt to promote the comedian's upcoming film "The Dictator". "We haven't banned him," the spokesperson told THR after the story first broke on Deadline. "We're just waiting to hear what he's going to do." That said: "We don't think [a publicity stunt is] appropriate...But his tickets haven't been pulled. We're waiting to hear back." Based on that statement, it sounds like the threat of being banned still looms, however.
ORIGINAL STORY: Sacha Baron Cohen has been banned from attending this year's Oscars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, due to the organization's fears that the comedian will cause a scene on the red carpet by showing up as his character from the upcoming comedy "The Dictator".
Deadline, it appears the only way Cohen will be given entry is if AMPAS
is assured there will be no funny business at the ceremony, which is taking place in Los Angeles this Sunday.
The hubbub arose after a proposal was floated to the Academy regarding the actor's plans to walk the press line in the guise of Admiral General Aladeen
, the fictional Middle East despot he portrays in the new film, which was directed by "Borat" and "Bruno" director Larry Charles.
Despite Cohen's banning, the resulting imbroglio is a definite win for the actor and distributor Paramount, who clearly realized the planned stunt would generate free publicity whether "Aladeen" was cleared to walk the red carpet or not.
Cohen is one of the stars of Martin Scorsese's "Hugo", which is up for 11 awards on Sunday including Best Picture. He is also a member of the Academy.
This isn't the first time Cohen has butted heads with the organization. In 2007 the the Academy asked him to be a presenter, but the comedian declined the offer when the organization turned down his request to appear on-stage as the title character from his 2006 smash hit "Borat".
One possibility is that AMPAS felt the gag would be inappropriate in light of the horrifying spate of violence currently taking place in Syria, where thousands of dissidents have been killed in a brutal crackdown by the country's tryannical president Bashar al Assad.
What do you think of Cohen's Oscar banning? Is the Academy doing the right thing, or do they need to lighten up? Sound off in the comments below!