|Is America’s love affair with Borat – the blunt and blundering Kazakstani reporter who’s the other alter-ego of Ali G creator Sacha Baron Cohen – coming to an end? For a while there, Empire couldn’t bump into a young Hollywood starlet without them taking minutes out of our precious interview schedule to gush about the merits of Da Ali G Show. A typical conversation would go something like this:|
Empire: So, tell us about your new project.
Starlet: I love Da Ali G Show!
Empire: Yes, that’s very good, but your new project?
Starlet: Isn’t he, like, the funniest? I love you Brits and your sense of humour!
Empire: Well, I –
Starlet: And Borat is sooooooo cute!
Empire: Erm –
Empire: Yes, but –
Empire: SHUT UP! SHUT UP! ANSWER THE FUCKING QUESTION!
And Ali G/Borat fever wasn’t just confined to Hollywood starlets. Da Ali G Show, the American version of Cohen’s Channel 4 show, in which Ali and Borat travelled to the States to pinprick American pomposity, expose deep-set prejudices in the Deep South, and make lots and lots of fart gags, got excellent ratings on the USA Network – enough to inspire a spin-off movie.
But with Ali G already having done the movie thang – Ali G In Da House, if you can’t remember it, and if you don’t, we don’t blame you – it was the turn of Borat, the unashamedly unreconstructed TV reporter who travels around the armpit of the USA and appals the locals with his un-American ways, to make the leap to the silver screen.
The concept was simple: Borat the movie would be a documentary-style flick, directed by that leading light of US comedy, Todd Phillips, director of Starsky & Hutch and Old School. But last week, it all started to go a decided shape of pear when, while shooting the opening sequence of the movie at a rodeo in Virginia, locals were so incensed by Cohen/Borat’s caterwauling rendition of the American national anthem and comments about the war in Eye-rack, that they caused a near-riot. Eyewitnesses reported that Cohen, Phillips and his team were lucky to leave without being shot at. Which just goes to show that America’s tolerance towards minorities still needs a bit of work.
And today, Borat received another setback when Phillips left the project. That age-old chestnut, ‘creative differences’, was cited as the reason, with Phillips understood to be unhappy about Cohen’s actions in the largely improvised opening sequence (and nearly being shot at tends to put a damper on things, whichever way you look at things).
Cohen and his cohorts are keen to finish the movie, and will hire another director as soon as possible. Phillips, who himself replaced Terry Zwigoff recently for reshoots on Bad Santa, will head onto his long-awaited next project, The Six Million Dollar Man. No word yet on how Hollywood starlets have reacted to this news and, frankly, we don’t really care.