Oscar 2011: Sacha Baron Cohen as The Dictator

In a story, The Hollywood Reporter states that Sacha Baron Cohen wants to attend the Oscar show on Feb. 26 as his character in The Dictator, his new raunchy comedy set for release by Paramount on May 11.

The question is whether the Academy will veto Cohen’s attempt.

Sources say Cohen, who was invited to attend the Oscars as part of the cast of best picture nominee Hugo, has informed Paramount — the studio behind both Hugo and Dictator — of his wishes. Paramount and the Academy declined comment.

The show’s producers say they have not been informed of any Cohen plans.

The 40-year-old British actor, who rose to fame as the creator and star of HBO’s Da Ali G Show, has a history of using big events to hype his movies. To help launch his mockumentary Borat in 2006, Cohen arrived at the Toronto Film Festival dressed up as his TV journalist alter ego, riding a wagon pulled by “Kazakhstani peasant women.”

At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, he came as gay fashionista Bruno (to promote Bruno) and was later suspended over the crowd and lowered atop Eminem, who promptly stormed out (it was later revealed the rapper was in on the joke).

The Oscars would take Cohen to a new level, exposing his Dictator character — a sex-crazed Gaddafi-meets-Hussein ruler who fights to stop democracy from coming to his country — to hundreds of millions of viewers around the world.

But the stunt could distract press attention from the night’s nominees, and executives at rival studios might scoff at the promotional effort.

The Academy is careful to exclude studio-specific film promotion from its annual Oscars telecast. It only recently allowed movie ads to run during commercial breaks. Thus, Cohen’s stunt would likely be limited to the pre-show, unless he makes an argument that the Academy can’t prohibit him from wearing what he wants. 

Cohen was mentioned as a possible Oscars host two years ago but was apparently vetoed by Academy leadership due to concerns over his racy comedy.