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Sacha Baron Cohen plans red carpet Oscar stunt in unwanted Academy drama

SachBarCohen plays General Colonel Aladeen fictional republic Wadiy“The Dictator” opening May 11.

Sacha Baron Cohen plays General Colonel Aladeen of the fictional republic of Wadiya in “The Dictator,” opening May 11.

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Updated: March 24, 2012 9:02AM



A s usual, there’s some intriguing behind-the-scenes drama leading up to Sunday’s Academy Awards:

Wild card Sacha Baron Cohen is threatening to show up on the red carpet in costume (and character) as the ruthless tyrant from his new film “The Dictator” — obviously to promote it to one of the world’s biggest TV audiences. Academy bosses have let him know they’d frown on that, with a spokesman stating very clearly, “The red carpet is not about stunting. It’s not about putting on a zoo.”
Cohen previously was asked to be a presenter in 2007, but when told he could not come as his outrageous Kazakhstani character Borat, he declined.

Meanwhile, the bankrupt Kodak company finally got a release from its hefty payments to maintain the name “Kodak Theatre.” So, for the moment, the theater where the Academy Awards are presented is technically nameless. It’s likely the opening announcement on Sunday night will be, “Live from the Hollywood and Highland Center — the 84th annual Academy Awards!!”

(The huge commercial complex housing the theater is located at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland.)

The Motion Picture Academy does have veto rights over the naming process of the theater where the Oscars are handed out. The point being, the Academy’s board would not want something inappropriate to be slapped on the building. Could you imagine, “Live from the Hooters Theater, the annual Academy Awards!”

Producers again will do the “Mominees” bit, started last year with the mothers of James Franco, Jeremy Renner, Mark Wahlberg and Mark Ruffalo tweeting and participating in the Oscars pre-show. Word has it, this year’s “Mominees” will include the mothers of George Clooney, Plainfield’s own Melissa McCarthy and Gary Oldman as part of the 2012 mix.

SPORTING LIFE: “Linsanity” is turning into a potentially huge windfall for New York Knicks phenom Jeremy Lin. His agent has been inundated with more than 1,000 endorsement offers — with more still pouring in.

The Harvard-educated Lin is being very savvy about it all and wisely taking his time to sort through the wide range of possibilities, which supposedly include multi-million-dollar bids to boost a line of high-end watches and a wireless phone company.

Since the Asian market is the biggest and fastest growth area for high-end luxury brands, it’s thought the Taiwanese-American athlete will ink big deals with brands popular in China, Japan and the rest of Asia, as well as the Middle East.

TV TALK: Not only has TBS renewed Conan O’Brien’s late night chatfest — extending “Conan” through April 2014 — but the cable network also is bringing O’Brien’s show to Chicago for a week of shows to air from here in June.Responding to the news of his renewal, funnyman O’Brien quipped, “I’m excited to continue my run with TBS. … This means I’ll be taping episodes of ‘Conan’ well into the

Ron Paul presidency.”

Timing is everything. While everyone at “The View” was happy to welcome back Star Jones on Wednesday to share stories with Barbara Walters about their mutual heart ailments, some staffers were not happy it happened the day news broke about Jones’ Satan’s Sisters book being turned into a VH1 film.

That titillating tome was about a catty group of women hosting a daytime talk show — with one going rogue and writing a “tell-all.”

“It just hit a bit too close to home,” said a longtime ‘View’ staffer, recalling Jones’ turbulent times co-hosting the show.

Monica Raymund is going from faux Chicago to real Chicago. The actress, whose character was just written off “The Good Wife,” has joined the cast of Dick Wolf’s pilot “Chicago Fire.” While “The Good Wife” is set in Our Town, “Chicago Fire” will actually be filmed here.

CHECK IT OUT: Congrats to filmmaker John Davies, whose wonderful “Phunny Business: A Black Comedy” documentary about Chicago’s first African-American comedy club will have its first big national exposure — airing on at 8:30 p.m. Thursday on Showtime.

Bill Zwecker reports regularly on WFLD-Channel 32.



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