It's The Dictator vs. the Oscars®.
Actor Sasha Baron Cohen is hitting back at the Academy today for banning him from the red carpet if he shows up as the dictator he plays in his new movie.
Speaking as The Dictator, Cohen said in a video statement, "I am outraged at being banned from the Oscars®! If you do not lift your sanctions and give me my tickets back by 12pm on Sunday, you will face unimaginable consequences!"
Milking the controversy for all it's worth, Cohen—famous for his previous role as Borat—also phoned in to the Today show, still in character.
"How is your eunoch Al Roker?" asked Cohen.
It was hard for the anchors to keep a straight face.
"Will you or will you not be walking the red carpet?" asked Ann Curry.
"Normally I would be impressed by an act of cowardice by a faceless regime, but this is personal," said Cohen.
The Academy, facing criticism that it lacks a sense of humor, is reportedly backtracking.
According to deadline.com they're considering letting Cohen walk the red carpet as The Dictator if he agrees to change into something more appropriate for the award ceremony itself.
And just when you thought the Oscars® couldn't get any crazier, a wild police car chase went right past the Oscar® theater.
It happened Thursday night as workers were busy prepping for the ceremony. Cops gave chase to a car-jacking suspect as he led them down Hollywood Boulevard. The pursuing vehicles even had to slow down because of all the Oscar® activity.
The car chase came right down Hollywood Boulevard and turned left in front of the theater, where a crowd of onlookers was gathered to catch a glimpse of the famous red carpet.
The chase ended at a gas station a few blocks away, with all the drama you'd expect from a car chase in Hollywood.
One innocent bystander, who was filling his tank, ducked for cover as bullets flew over his head.
Back at the theatre, INSIDE EDITION was given access behind the scenes in the Green Room where the A-list presenters like Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Michael Douglas, and Jennifer Lopez will hang out as they wait to go on stage.
There are lots of comfy couches and a champagne bar. It's the first time the Academy will serve alcohol in a bid, perhaps, to loosen everyone up. There's even an outdoor seating area for the stars who want to slip out for a smoke.
We caught up with host Billy Crystal, looking relaxed and ready for his return to the Oscar® stage. He was leaving a medical office, carrying two boxs of herbal tea to soothe his vocal chords before the big show.
And you'll never guess who's rooting for Billy? It's the dictator himself. Whether he walks the red carpet or not, it seems the despot has a soft spot for Crystal.
"Death to the west. Death to America. And good luck Billy Crystals. Fantastic," said Cohen.