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Borat’s New-er Look

Sacha Baron CohenAlthough he had nothing to do with “Borat,” producer Richard Zanuck toasted Sacha Baron Cohen on Wednesday at Jar’s restaurant in L.A. The party was to congratulate Cohen on his film’s Golden Globe nomination and to introduce him to Hollywood friends who might be Oscar voters as well. “Borat” is a 20th Century-Fox Film.

Zanuck has been in London several months readying “Sweeney Todd.” When he readied to wing home to holiday in L.A. with family, Zanuck told Cohen, who also maintains residences in L.A. and London, that he’d like to throw this party to “introduce him to Hollywood.”

Zanuck is currently readying the DreamWorks/Warner Bros. tuner, in which Cohen will play the barber  Signor Adolfo Pirelli, who duels in razor antics with Johnny Depp, who plays the titular character. Both will be singing the Stephen Sondheim songs, along with co-stars Helena Bonham Carter, as the diabolical pie-maker Mrs. Lovett, and Alan Rickman, as the judge.

Cohen, clean-shaven at Wednesday’s party, will be seen looking “very eccentric” promises the producer — as different as can be imagined from his “Borat” role.  Filming starts next month. The film will be shooting completely at Pinewood with Tim Burton directing, who first teamed with Zanuck on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

As for “Borat,” Zanuck admits, “I wish I had something to do with it!  I don’t know how he got away with it,” he laughed. “He’s a very good actor.”

Paramount’s announcement of a revival of the once-shelved “Ripley’s Believe It or Not,’ which Zanuck was to have produced, was news to him. He says he no longer has anything to do with it, despite having spent six weeks location-hunting in China. . . believe it or not. 

UPDATE (Jan. 4):

Sacha Baron Cohen admitted he was “overwhelmed” by the reception given him by host Richard Zanuck — and 20th Century-Fox — at Wednesday night’s party at Jar — as well as the number of other accolades he and his film have been getting in Hollywood.

But no one at the party was happier about the “Borat” phenomenon than 20th’s Chairman Jim Gianopulos who said the film has passed the $250 million global gross — from a $17 million investment.

And now, the studio is exuberant about the major additions to the film’s DVD version. He recalled viewing many other hysterical scenes during the filming — but they didn’t make it to the current feature-length cut. But they’ll be in the DVD.

When I asked Sacha Baron Cohen about the possibility a sequel, he said, “No — but a prequel — when Borat is 5-14 years old.”

Who could play him? “Me, of course,” Cohen laughed. But when he realized I was taking him seriously, he stopped and assured me, “No — there will be no prequel — or any sequel.” But he is looking forward to his singing role in “Sweeney Todd.” “Although I sing only one song.”

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