Who Is America?Latest News and Opinion
Posted Wednesday 11/07/18 at 9:55AM EST
Sacha Baron Cohen revives Borat for Jimmy Kimmel Live!, discusses Who Is America? for the first time
Kimmel got Cohen to reprise his most famous character, Borat Sagdiyev, to stump for Trump in the suburbs. "I'm a racist. It is nice," said Borat. Also, Cohen for the first time discussed his hit summer Showtime series. He recalled how he enlisted a real-life Israeli military vet to help him prep for his interview with Dick Cheney. He also discussed bringing a bulletproof clipboard while his liberal professor character announced a mosque to be built in an Arizona city, as well as trying to get a confession out of O.J. Simpson. ALSO: Kimmel duped people into thinking Kid Rock had won a U.S. Senate seat.
Posted Tuesday 10/23/18 at 9:28PM EDT
Sacha Baron Cohen's Who Is America? gave $200 to an anti-gay marriage group to woo Roy Moore
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Showtime filed its first substantive legal brief in response to the Alabama judge's $95 million defamation lawsuit. It reveals that producers agreed to donate $200 to a charity of Moore's choice as part of their agreement. Moore chose, the Foundation for Moral Law, a group that has opposed same-sex marriage and abortion. "The $200 is not a lot, and certainly is nowhere near the $95 million in damages that Moore asserts he suffered after being interviewed by Cohen with a fictional device meant to detect pedophiles," says The Hollywood Reporter's Eriq Gardner. "Nevertheless, it's unusual."
Posted Wednesday 9/05/18 at 3:54PM EDT
Roy Moore sues Sacha Baron Cohen for $95 million over Who Is America?'s pedophile detector segment
Cohen, no stranger to being sued over his pranks, has been hit with the first lawsuit over his Showtime series. The former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice's lawsuit also targets CBS and Showtime. "Defendant Cohen and his agents including Defendants Showtime and CBS made false and defamatory statements concerning Judge Moore by calling, representing and publishing within this district, the nation and the world, with malice, that Judge Moore a pedophile and a sex offender on Who is America?" the lawsuit said. The suit also states that Moore and his wife were deceived into traveling to Washington, D.C. where the segment was taped, after they were told he would receive an award for his strong support of Israel. "Had Judge Moore and Mrs. Moore known that Defendant Cohen had fraudulently induced Judge Moore into this interview, which as a 'set up' to harm and thus damage Plaintiffs and the rest of their entire family, Judge Moore would not have agreed to appear," said the lawsuit. As The New York Times recently pointed out, any lawsuit filed against Cohen will be hard to win because "prospective prank victims signed releases designed to indemnify Mr. Cohen and his producers from legal claims" and because public figures like Moore have a higher bar to clear to prove defamation.
Posted Friday 8/31/18 at 10:58PM EDT
Here are summer TV's winners and losers
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Sharp Objects, Yellowstone and Who Is America? are among summer's winners, while Fear the Walking Dead and the World Cup were losers.
Posted Thursday 8/30/18 at 10:02PM EDT
Showtime exec wants to stay relevant with political shows like Who Is America?: "We are extremely open to doing another season with Sacha"
“What’s important to us is to be relevant,” Showtime programming president Gary Levine said earlier this month. “It probably began with Homeland, which was the first sort of overtly political show, which was also a psychological thriller and so many other good things. And then The Circus was really a sort of conscious move into doing a truly political show.” As for Sacha Baron Cohen doing a new season of Who Is America?, Levine said: “We are extremely open to doing another season with Sacha, and I know he is really enjoying the experience. I think you’ve got to figure out exactly how to pull it off because it’s amazing what he pulls off. But Sacha, if he wants to do it, I’m confident he will find a way to do it, and we will welcome the chance to do it with him.”
Posted Tuesday 8/28/18 at 1:48PM EDT
Showtime says Sacha Baron Cohen's Who Is America? isn't dead yet
Source: Entertainment Weekly
Despite Cohen -- who is prone to misinformation -- tweeting that Sunday's episode was "the last EVER show" -- Showtime says Who Is America? could return for a second season.
Posted Monday 8/27/18 at 10:30PM EDT
Who Is America?'s O.J. Simpson sitdown required hidden cameras, FBI-level training and a fake Sheikh
Sacha Baron Cohen generated backlash in February when The Daily Mail reported that he paid O.J. Simpson nearly $20,000 to appear in a prank for his new film. It's unclear if that story was true, but Deadline reports that his lawyer did take a payout from Cohen's Gio Monaldo character to put him in the same room as Simpson. Deadline's Mike Fleming Jr. reports that Monaldo told Simpson's lawyer he was "acting as a middleman for (a) fictional Sheikh, who was prepared to pay a seven-figure sum to hear Simpson say what really happened that night, a confession to be delivered while the Sheikh was having sex with a prostitute. Monaldo would have to hear the confession, before his client would pay up. This took preparation that included Baron Cohen spending hours with a former lead interrogator for the FBI, an expert in drawing out confessions. It also involved creating credible cover stories for the (Sheikh), so that the lawyer who pocketed the fee and others could Google and feel they were dealing with real people." Fleming adds that "Simpson didn’t know he was on camera, as this was one of the few examples where a hidden camera was used."
- O.J. Simpson's lawyer says his client realized Cohen was pranking him in the middle of the two-hour meeting
- With Simpson, Who Is America? found a fitting mark, "a powerful person whose power manages to implicate the rest of us"
- Who Is America? ultimately told us what we already know -- and it became repetitive and stale in the second half of the season
- Cohen tweeted it's "the last EVER show," but what would be the point of announcing Who Is America? is coming back?
- Showtime shot itself in the foot by promising "the most dangerous TV show ever": Not even a fearless, risk-taking comedian like Cohen could live up to that kind of hype
- The way Who Is America? waited until the very last moment to acknowledge Sarah Palin was brilliant
Posted Monday 8/27/18 at 7:52AM EDT
Who Is America? season finale didn't show Sarah Palin, but it did troll her by giving her a "credit"
Source: The Daily Beast
Palin was missing from Sacha Baron Cohen's final episode of the season, but she did receive a "Special Publicity Consultant (Inadvertent)" credit at the end. Showtime entertainment president Gary Levine hinted that Palin's interview wouldn't be shown when he said earlier this month, "there are several people who have thrown themselves in front of buses that may not be headed their way" when asked about Palin. Showtime confirmed Cohen's Billy Wayne Ruddick, Jr. character interviewed Palin after she accused him of misrepresenting himself as a disabled veteran. Showtime said in a statement last month, "Baron Cohen never presented himself as a veteran of the U.S. military to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin during the booking process or during the filming of her interview, and contrary to her claims he did not appear in a wheelchair." ALSO: Cohen targeted O.J. Simpson in the season finale by joking about killing women.
Posted Friday 8/24/18 at 10:43PM EDT
Why Who Is America? is the most disappointing show of the year
Sacha Baron Cohen's buzzworthy Showtime series, which has its season finale on Sunday after seven episodes, ran out of gas by Episode 4 with recent episodes composed of odds and ends rather than anything particularly incisive or even funny, says Todd VanDerWerff. Why? Because Who Is America? lacked a point of view, which is a key ingredient of all successful comedy. "This is where Who Is America? falls apart, week after week," he says. "Where Da Ali G Show focused on television’s unique ability to enable our worst impulses and Borat was about the underlying horrors of American hospitality, Who Is America? sometimes feels like a scattershot riff on reality television that Cohen half-sketched out in 2005 and then forgot about until a few months ago." He adds: "The weakness of Cohen’s characters might have been negated by a steady stream of high-profile guests, a sort of 'Can you believe that happened?!' who’s who. But the show’s general aesthetic of seeming to have stepped out of 2005 and making only a few minor changes extends even to its treatment of its most familiar targets. It seemed like the show wasn’t even sure why it had Howard Dean talk to Billy Wayne, other than that viewers would recognize the name Howard Dean."
Posted Monday 8/20/18 at 10:18PM EDT
Sacha Baron Cohen's Who Is America? characters fall into two camps: Losers and winners
Dr. Nira Cain-N’Degeocello and Billy Wayne Ruddick fall into the loser category, says Lili Loofbourow. "The unusual thing about Who Is America? is that it actually runs on two extremely different strands of cringe comedy, and extorted courtesy is only one of them," she says. "Yes, Baron Cohen plays a number of characters whose basic schtick is being so stupid and insufferable that you can’t help but feel a bit sorry for them," she adds, referring to Ruddick and Cain-N’Degeocello. Referring to Erran Morad and Gio Monaldo, she says: "But there’s another kind of Cohen character, and it’s a much more dangerous one. Cohen’s winners...are lethal in ways his losers never can be. What these characters do is smash the alibi that Cohen’s targets were victims of their own politesse. The sketches with them are genuinely revealing in ways the others aren’t; they’re agents of disinhibition who give his targets an opportunity to show what they really are. Because the Monaldo and Morad characters are aspirational—the targets see them as successful and strong and want to benefit from them—pity isn’t a tool they rely on."
Posted Monday 8/20/18 at 7:59AM EDT
Sacha Baron Cohen's Who Is America? targets are unlikely to win if they sue
Source: The New York Times
Several of Cohen's victims, particularly those humiliated by Cohen's Erran Morad character, have threatened or implied legal action. Yet Cohen and his team have, for the most part, successfully fended off previous lawsuits over his more famous characters by having his subjects sign a release that is purposefully vague with indemnifying language in fine print, according to entertainment lawyer Domenic Romano. “These releases basically solicit the consent of the participant and say, ‘Look, no inconsistent oral statement is going to be considered here," says Romano. "This is the entire agreement in this release. You’ve entered into it voluntarily. You’ve had an opportunity to review it with counsel.’” ALSO: Who Is America? dupes Real Housewives of Orange County alums, as well as former presidential candidates Howard Dean and Jill Stein.
Posted Thursday 8/16/18 at 1:39PM EDT
Sacha Baron Cohen's inspiration for Who Is America?'s Erran Morad revealed?
Source: The National
Matan Gavish, a New York City Krav Maga trainer and former officer for a special-ops unit in the Israeli Defense Force, appears to be a dead ringer for Cohen's Israeli military expert character. "The similarities are uncanny: the jawline, the hair, the eyebrows, the dress and the accent," as Felicity Campbell points out. Gavish says he didn't see the similarities, but “everyone around me did … which I thought was pretty funny.”
Posted Wednesday 8/15/18 at 7:08PM EDT
Who Is America? EDM subject said he asked a cameraman: "Is Ashton Kutcher going to come out and say I got punked or something?”
"My first impression was that it was a prank show," says Miami nightclub owner and manager Jake Inphamous of meeting Sacha Baron Cohen's Rick Sherman character. Inphamous says he knew something off, and tried to take the filming lightly. But he did try to quiz the crew members. "The whole crew is trained very well," he says. "(A producer) looked at me very nervous and reiterated how I shouldn’t offend anybody. So I figured, okay, but in the back of my head I really thought something was off. And that’s why I didn’t end up like Daniel Roberts with a dildo in my mouth, because I was a little more aware." Inphamous adds: "I was 60 percent convinced it was a prank show, and 40 percent convinced it might’ve been a real show. I didn’t 100 percent know it was a prank show."
Posted Monday 8/13/18 at 9:39PM EDT
Pro-gun activist who bit a dildo on Who Is America? only found out Sunday night he was a Sacha Baron Cohen victim
Source: The New York Times
Daniel Roberts, a truck driver who is president of Youth Shooters of America, learned of his awkward appearance on the Showtime series from a friend's Facebook message while he was going to bed Sunday night. "I don’t get Showtime," he says. "I had absolutely no idea. Sacha Baron Cohen — it’s like, 'Who?' I guess he was kind of big in the early 2000s for some stuff? He never was on my radar as anyone I knew about or followed." Roberts, who taped the bit with Erran Morad in July 2017, thought he was filming for Israeli TV. Following his appearance, Roberts says he's exploring his legal options. "This was a malicious, willful and deliberate act on the part of Sacha Baron Cohen, the production company and Showtime, who blatantly lied to me about the purpose of the entire thing, in a deliberate effort to humiliate me," says Roberts.
Posted Monday 8/13/18 at 2:35PM EDT
Sacha Baron Cohen overplayed his hand on this week's Who Is America?
Source: The A.V. Club
Cohen's characters didn't get much out of Trump supporter Sheriff David Clarke and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. "Sometimes, it feels as if Baron Cohen is trying to drag his marks into dark alleys, rather than letting them venture into it on their own," says Randall Colburn. "Sure, some people need that level of psychological force; others, meanwhile, might’ve produced something much more juicy had it been played a little looser."