The Shmooze

Is Sacha Baron Cohen Heading to Wonderland?

By Jana Banin

(JTA) — Sacha Baron Cohen is in early talks to join Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland 2,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

If it all goes through, he’ll appear alongside Johnny Depp and Mia Wasikowska, who both starred in the first film as the Mad Hatter and Alice, respectively. The sequel is set to be released over Memorial Day weekend of 2016.

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Only One Casualty at the BAFTA Awards...

By Anne Cohen

The BAFTA LA Jaguar Britannia Awards last night saw the usual glitz, glam and speeches — with one exception: Sacha Baron Cohen accidentally killed an elderly woman by pushing her off the stage.

Well, not really. But the attendees definitely thought so — for a good couple of seconds.

Presented with the Charlie Chaplin Britannia for Excellence in Comedy at L.A.’s Beverly Hilton Hotel, Baron Cohen was joined onstage by Grace Cullington, the oldest surviving Chaplin co-star, who appeared in “City Lights” at the age of 5!

What started out as an “aww” moment for the audience as Cullington bestowed Chaplin’s actual cane from “City Lights” onto his comedy heir — which the “Borat” star used to pay homage to the tramp’s signature penguin waddle — quickly descended into complete and utter disbelief when he tripped and suddenly sent her flying into the crowd.

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I'm No Terrorist

By Haaretz

getty images
Ayman Abu Aita

A Palestinian grocer portrayed as a terrorist in the comedy “Bruno” has settled his slander suit against Jewish actor Sacha Baron Cohen and talk show host David Letterman, according to a report by the British Daily Mail.

In an article published Friday, the Daily Mail said that Ayman Abu Aita was interviewed in the 2009 comedy, where he was labeled in a caption as a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a violent offshoot of the Palestinian Fatah movement, and that Baron Cohen later discussed his encounter with a “terrorist” on Letterman’s CBS show.

Abu Aita’s court papers described him as a Christian and “a peace-loving person” who was living in the West Bank, adding that he “has never associated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade or any terrorist activity,” said the Daily Mail.

“He went to the interview that appeared in ‘Bruno’ thinking he was talking to a journalist about peace activism, his court complaint said. Instead, the movie spurred death threats against him, damaged his business and made him fear for his family’s safety,” the Daily Mail report said.

For more, go to Haaretz.com

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Jerusalem Post Ranks 50 Influential Jews

By Michael Kaminer

Getty Images
Jon Stewart took #7 on the Jerusalem Post list.

Mazel tov, Benjamin “King Bibi” Netanyahu. You’re officially the most influential Jew in the world, according to the Jerusalem Post’s just-released ranking of the world’s 50 most significant Semites.

And good on you, (Jon Stewart #7). The Post thinks you’ve got more juice than Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (#9) and Eric Cantor (#19) —and all of you rate higher than Shimon Peres (#22) and George Soros (#38).

But the Post’s choices — Canadian rapper Drake at #16? Natalie Portman at #36? — have sparked some good-natured hand-wringing in the blogosphere.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Shimon Peres, Sergey Brin, Sheldon Adelson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ruth Messinger, Mayim Bialik, Natalie Portman, Jeremy Ben-Ami, George Soros, Drake, Eric Cantor, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Benjamin Netanyahu, Amir Eshel

'The Dictator' Meant Those Ashes for George Clooney

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images

Whoops! You know those Kim Jong-il “ashes” that Sacha Baron Cohen — in character as the Supreme Leader of Wadiya — spilled all over Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet at the Oscars? Well, it turns out that they were originally meant for George Clooney…and that the provocateur is contrite over the incident.

Last weekend, Baron Cohen made a surprise cameo on Saturday Night Live and used the opportunity to apologize to Seacrest, who was also on the set. “I didn’t realize that ‘The Dictator’ was doing a walk on cameo [on SNL]!” Seacrest said, according to Perez Hilton. “He comes off stage and comes over to me. He breaks character and says, ‘Sorry about the Oscars. It wasn’t personal.’”

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Sacha Baron Cohen Shocks on Aussie ‘Today’ Show

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Getty Images
‘The Dictator’ arrives in Sydney, Australia.

Sacha Baron Cohen ruined some Australians’ breakfast appetites when he appeared this morning on the country’s Today Show to promote his new movie, “The Dictator.” In fact, he seemed to be making the show’s hosts so uncomfortable that at times it looked like they themselves might toss their cookies right there on the set.

Dressed as Admiral General Aladeen of the fictional Republic of Wadiya and flanked by two scantily clad female “guards,” Baron Cohen began his R-rated conversation with the hosts by bringing regards from Mel Gibson. “He has just become the head of our Department of Race Relations and he’s on the board of the Museum of Intolerance,” the admiral notified them.

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Oscar Night Highlights

By Eileen Reynolds

Getty Images

Oscar night has come and gone, and now the real fun begins. With the glitzy spectacle fresh in our minds, this is the time to dissect, analyze, and discuss. Best and worst dressed? Start with our red-carpet photo slideshow. Which victories were well deserved? Who should’ve won but went home empty handed? Check out our list of historic wins to see how this year’s nominees measure up against the greatest Oscar winners of all time.

Best speech? Worst joke? Sweetest red-carpet couple? Read on to see how this year’s crop of Jewish nominees, presenters and guests — from Steven Spielberg to Natalie Portman to Sacha Baron Cohen — fared at the 84th Annual Academy Awards.

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Too Convenient? Megan Fox Joins ‘The Dictator’ Film Cast

By Nathan Burstein

Though skeptical about conspiracy theories, The Shmooze can’t help but raise an eyebrow at the timing of Megan Fox’s latest career news.

Two days after director Michael Bay claimed that Steven Spielberg ordered the actress fired from “Transformers 3” because of a rather unfortunate comparison she made between Bay and Hitler, Fox has joined the cast of a movie called “The Dictator.”

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Name of Sacha Baron Cohen's Baby Revealed!

By Nathan Burstein

Actress Isla Fisher is taking this whole Judaism thing seriously.

The “Wedding Crashers” star and her husband, “Borat” comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, have reportedly named their second child Elula, after the sixth month of the Hebrew calendar. The name is a female form of Elul, which usually falls in the late summer or early fall. The name is not one the Shmooze has heard before — even in Israel — although Sivan, the third month of the Hebrew calendar, is a fairly common girl’s name.

Elula joins an older sister, Olive, who was born before her mother’s conversion to Judaism.

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Sacha Baron Cohen To Be Britain's New Chief Rabbi?

By Nathan Jeffay

As discussed in last week’s Forward, Britain’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, has announced that he will retire in 2013, and speculation has begun about potential successors.

Sure, it’s fascinating to those of us who keep abreast of developments in the world’s Jewish communities, but did you know it’s also of interest to…. bookmakers. Believe it or not, you can now place a wager on who will fill Sacks’ shoes. Paddy Power, Ireland’s biggest betting company, is offering odds on 15 possible — or in some cases pretty impossible — successors. It’s open for bets online, here.

Most potential successors are British rabbis. A favorite (with 13/8 odds) is British export to the U.S. Shaul Robinson, who is currently senior rabbi at New York’s Lincoln Square Synagogue. The final column, however, consists of bizarre outsiders. There’s the Israeli modern-Orthodox leader Benny Lau (with 33/1 odds) and the British businessman and boss on the British version of “The Apprentice,” Alan Sugar (250/1).

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Vanessa Feltz, Sacha Baron Cohen, Paddy Power, Ed Miliband, Chief Rabbi, Benny Lau, Alan Sugar

Sacha Baron Cohen To Play Freddie Mercury

By Forward Staff

Ali G is going to play Freddie Mercury, but he won’t appear as the “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy” just yet. British funnyman Sacha Baron Cohen has been tapped to be the “Killer Queen” in an upcoming musical biopic of Queen’s late lead singer, but he has to finish a couple of other films before appearing in this particular “A Night at the Opera.”

“It’s a Hard Life” for Baron Cohen, who is currently in London, filming the children’s movie “Hugo Cabret,” directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Ben Kingsley and Jude Law. He is already slated to spend 2011 filming his own Paramount movie before he joins the “Bicycle Race” to play everyone’s favorite flamboyant Zoroastrian rock star. Scorsese’s producer, Graham King, who won an Oscar for the 2006 film “The Departed,” is putting together the cast and crew for a film that he surely hopes will be “A Kind of Magic.”

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Post ‘Borat,’ Kazakhstan To Set Record Straight

By Michael Kaminer

Though there was never an official reaction from the government of Kazakhstan, it’s a good bet that the 2006 film “Borat” did not earn applause from citizens of the Central Asian nation for its portrayal of them as Jew-hating, incest-practicing, homophobic and — worst of all — “Baywatch”-obsessed.

But four years after the massively successful release of Sacha Baron Cohen’s offbeat comedy, a Kazakhstani filmmaker wants to set the record straight. The French news agency Agence France-Presse reported August 7 that Kazakh director Erkin Rakishev will soon start shooting “My Brother, Borat,” an unauthorized sequel to Baron Cohen’s mockumentary. Rakishev, according to AFP, told the Kazakh tabloid Kazakhstanskaya Pravda that “we want to ride on the wave of success of ‘Borat,’ to take advantage of this popular image in the West to show people the real Kazakhstan, not Baron Cohen’s Kazakhstan.”

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Borat Gets Hitched

By Laura Sinberg

Sacha Baron Cohen is officially off the market. He and longtime girlfriend, Australian actress Isla Fisher, tied the knot in a traditional Jewish ceremony in Paris last week, following an eight-year courtship. “We did it — we’re married!” Fisher reportedly told friends via email, according to the Australian edition of Woman’s Day magazine. “It was the absolute best day of my life and in so many beautiful moments I missed you all so much. I thought of you as everything was happening, but Sacha and I wanted no fuss — just us!” she went on.

Fisher converted to Judaism in 2007 after several years of study. She took the Hebrew name Ayala, which means doe in Hebrew.

The famously private couple wed in a small ceremony in the presence of only a few relatives. Fisher, 34, and Cohen, 38, became engaged six years ago but postponed wedding plans several times. The couple has a 2-year-old daughter, Olive.

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