'Borat' star to also appear in 'Dinner'

After months of vacillating and speculation, Sacha Baron Cohen is ready to follow “Borat” with two starring film roles.

The comic thesp is firming plans to next star in “Bruno,” the Media Rights Capital-financed picture based on his fashion reporter character. Universal will distribute in the U.S. and other English-speaking territories.

After Baron Cohen completes that film, his intention is to follow with “Dinner for Schmucks,” a DreamWorks remake of the French comic hit “Le Diner de Cons,” from Francis Veber. A deal has not been closed and the timing of that project is still indefinite.

Jay Roach will direct “Dinner” and Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald are producing. Roach was a producer on “Borat” and is producing “Bruno.”

“Dinner for Schmucks” hasn’t yet been completely pieced together, and is subject to several variables. Roach committed to replace Sydney Pollack as the director of “Recount,” an HBO pic about the drama behind the 2000 presidential election that is being timed for the heat of the 2008 presidential election.

Both he and Baron Cohen will have to get past their fall projects and leave DreamWorks enough time to shoot “Schmucks” before next June.

David Guion and Michael Handelman wrote the most recent draft of “Schmucks,” a Veber project that Baron Cohen attached himself to in 2003. The French film focused on a weekly dinner party held by a Paris publisher who challenges his friends to bring the most pathetic guest to the gathering. Cohen will play a character blessed with such extraordinary schmuckiness that he can destroy the personal life of anyone with whom he comes in contact.

Baron Cohen just worked with Parkes and MacDonald on the Tim Burton-directed “Sweeney Todd,” playing Signor Adolfo Pirelli, rival to the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Johnny Depp).

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