It appears that this year’s Oscar telecast producers, Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman, have a blockage regarding Sacha Baron-Cohen. On 2.18 Shankman revealed during an NPR “Fresh Air” interview that a proposal for Baron-Cohen to host the Oscars was “too much of a wild card” to gain Academy approval. And now New York/”Vulture”‘s Claude Brodesser-Akner is reporting that an Avatar-spoofing skit that would have co-starred Baron Cohen and Ben Stiller has been dropped.
The reported reason is that Mechanic feared that the sketch might have pissed off James Cameron, with whom Mechanic dealt with during the making of Titanic, and who apparently has a reputation for being thin-skinned.
“An insider familiar with the Oscar telecast tells Vulture that an Avatar sketch planned by Baron Cohen and Stiller was nixed yesterday by Mechanic, who worried that Cameron would be so offended by it that he might even walk out of the Oscar broadcast on live TV.
“Baron Cohen planned to appear onstage as a blue-skinned female Na’vi, with Stiller translating ‘her’ interplanetary speech. As the skit went on, though, it would become clear that Stiller wasn’t translating properly, because Cohen would grow ever more upset. At its climax, an infuriated Baron Cohen would pull open ‘her’ evening gown to reveal that s/he was pregnant, knocked up with Cameron’s love child, and would go on to confront her baby daddy as if s/he were on Jerry Springer.
“‘Let’s just say that Cameron isn’t known to be, shall we say, self-deprecating,’ a source explains about the decision to cut the sketch.
“Baron Cohen’s spokesman Matt Labov told Brodesser-Akner that ‘I hate to use the term, because it’s so ubiquitous, but there were creative differences. Nothing acrimonious, but both sides felt that since they couldn’t agree, [Cohen] might as well remain in London.'”