Sacha Baron Cohen's Avatar Sketch Cut From The Oscars To Spare James Cameron's Feelings

You have to wonder how nobody saw this coming. Last week it was announced that Sacha Baron Cohen would be presenting at the Oscars this Sunday. Yesterday, his name disappeared from the presenters list. The reason for the dismissal, according to Vulture, was that Cohen was collaborating with Ben Stiller for an Avatar sketch that might have offended director James Cameron — someone not exactly known for his sense of humor.

The sketch was dropped by Oscar producer Bill Mechanic, who also dealt with the director as head of Twentieth Century Fox when Cameron was working on Titanic. Mechanic likely gathered a sixth sense towards Cameron's prickly nature during that film's shoot, and didn't want to risk him walking out in the middle of the Oscar ceremony.

Baron Cohen planned to appear onstage as a blue-skinned, female Na'vi, with Stiller translating "her" interplanetary speech. As the skit went on, though, it would become clear that Stiller wasn't translating properly, because Cohen would grow ever more upset. At its climax, an infuriated Baron Cohen would pull open "her" evening gown to reveal that s/he was pregnant, knocked up with Cameron's love child, and would go on to confront her baby daddy as if s/he were on Jerry Springer.

We've seen the sort of responses Cohen can gather from unsuspecting bystanders in Borat, Bruno, and Da Ali G Show, and it's a shame that we're not going to see how James Cameron would react to a mockery of his mega-hit film. I can understand why the Oscar producers would be nervous, but I'm not sure how anyone can bring Cohen onto a project and not expect him to offend someone. This reminds me of how attendees at the recent TED conference were offended when Sarah Silverman was brought on to be Sarah Silverman.

This is the second snub from the upcoming Oscars ceremony for Cohen. According to an interview on NPR's Fresh Air, Cohen was one of names brought up to host the event, but he was shot down for that as well.  "They thought it was too big of a wild card," said Oscar producer Adam Shankman (Bedtime Stories and Hairspray).