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***UPDATE: Fueling speculation on whether it was all a publicity stunt, the Academy has apparently given Cohen the go-ahead to arrive on the red carpet as General Aladeen. The dictator has this to say about his victory:
“VICTORY IS OURS! Today the Mighty Nation of Wadiya triumphed over the Zionist snakes of Hollywood. Evil and all those who made Satan their protector were vanquished and driven into the Pacific Sea. What I am trying to say here is that the Academy have surrendered and sent over two tickets and a parking pass! TODAY OSCAR, TOMORROW OBAMA!”
Julian Stark's original story:
Yesterday we heard that the Academy had "banned" Sacha Baron Cohen from attending this year’s Oscars. The chameleon-like comic actor, who acted in Martin Scorsese’s Best Picture-nominated Hugo, wanted to show up on the red carpet as Admiral General Aladeen, the lead character from his upcoming comedy The Dictator.
Although he would have changed into a standard tuxedo for the actual ceremony, the Academy didn’t think too highly of Cohen’s intended red-carpet arrival. Now, however, Academy president Tom Sherak says there’s no longer a ban on Cohen’s attendance.
“We want him to come to the show. But we would like him to come as Sacha,” he told the TheWrap.
So much for a festive occasion, right? In any case, Cohen refused to go down without spinning this harmless and needlessly overblown controversy into something fun. In a way that only Cohen could, the official website for The Dictator relayed the following message yesterday afternoon:
"Admiral General Aladeen will deliver a formal response tomorrow morning to being banned from the Oscars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Zionists."
This morning, YouTube account Republic Of Wadiya, the fictional country that serves as a major setting in The Dictator, posted the response, which was also shown on The Today Show. See Admiral General Aladeen’s understandably irritated response below. It's inspiring to see Cohen being a good sport about this, not taking the situation too seriously or becoming egomaniacal like other celebrities can.