Considering the bad rap that Sacha Baron Cohen and Larry Charles take as guys who will do anything to anyone for a laugh, it's a genuine shock to think that the only people who WON'T be mining Michael Jackson's death for laughs in the upcoming weeks will be the filmmakers behind "Bruno."

When I saw "Bruno," the scene in question was still part of the film, during a montage of efforts by Bruno to set up a celebrity interview show.  He burns enough bridges that he's reduced to interviewing C-listers, and that's where LaToya Jackson comes in.  As she sits on a Mexican gardener and eats sushi of a naked fat man (yeah, you read that right), Bruno uses her Blackberry to look up Michael's phone number and, in German, read it off to his assistant so he can write it down.

Last night, at the film's premiere, which took place at the Chinese Theater about 40 feet from where Michael Jackson's star is placed in the Walk of Fame, the scene had already been excised.  Evidently, the edit took place there in the projection booth, and now they've decided to make it a permanent change.  Here's the statement I was given from a Universal source earlier this afternoon:

"Out of respect for the Jackson family, the filmmakers have decided to remove a small scene involving La Toya Jackson."

I understand the move.  I respect the decision.

[more after the jump]

But can I still make fun of it a little bit?  I mean... this is "Bruno," for god's sake.  This movie is going to offend pretty much everyone.  I had a talk with a friend today who was ready to dismiss the entire movie because Ron Paul's a target in one scene.  I'm sure pretty much everyone's going to find something in the film that pushes their personal button to enough of a degree that they want to cry foul.

Still, there's a difference between taking a shot at the hapless and permanently confused LaToya and reminding people of the recent death of an '80s icon while the feeling's still fresh, and in the end, I'm sure we'll see the footage again on DVD down the road.

"Bruno" is in theaters July 10th.

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