Sacha Baron Cohen shows no mercy to his interviewees — except, perhaps, for one very notable exception.
At a panel for the Television Critic's Association on Monday, Showtime entertainment president Gary Levine revealed that the Sarah Palin interview, one of the most anticipated segments of Who Is America?, might not even make it to air.
When asked when the Palin episode would air, Levine started throwing caution to the wind. "There are several people who have thrown themselves in front of buses that may not be headed their way,” he said, according to >Entertainment Weekly.
The reporter asked for clarification on whether that meant she was cut from the show entirely.
"Sacha is very hardworking and selective in [creating] the final product,” said Levine. “He’s always refining it. We’ll see."
Palin had been one the show's most vocal protestors before it even aired, typing in an angry Facebook post that she had been "duped" into participating, along with many other right wingers who'd "fallen victim to the evil, exploitive, sick 'humor' of the British comedian."
Palin even went on claim that Cohen "disguised himself as a disabled US Veteran, fake wheelchair and all," for her interview.
Levine only continued to give the vaguest of responses to why it wouldn't air, dodging a question about whether it was due to a legal issue.
“Sacha is refining stuff right up to the moment it goes on the air,” Levine said. “He screens stuff for audiences. It all feels off the cuff but it’s remarkably researched.”
This cowed tone is notably different from the fiery statement Showtime initially gave in response to Palin's outrage. The network called her rant "widespread misinformation," adding that Baron Cohen "did not present himself as a disabled veteran, and viewers nationwide who watched the premiere on Sunday can now attest to that."
— Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., PhD (@BillyWRuddick) July 12, 2018
In her post, Palin also claimed, that after she'd had enough in the interview, she "literally removed [her] mic and walked out, much to Cohen’s chagrin." Palin ended with one last taunt: "My challenge, shallow Sacha boy: go ahead — air the footage. Experience tells us it will be heavily edited, not pretty, and intended to humiliate."
Overall, though, Showtime brass were effusive about the show and even hinted at the possibility of a second season.
"[Sacha Baron Cohen is] the Daniel Day-Lewis of comedy,” Showtime CEO David Nevins said. “I knew doing a show with him would be a risk and it’s a risk I’m glad we took… He had me at ‘hello.'”
Nevins also attempted to answer one common criticism of the show: What exactly is this "Daniel Day-Lewis of comedy" trying to say exactly about America in Who is America?
“I don’t know what he’s saying about America,” Nevins said. “Clearly we’re living in a time of extremes.”
That much is, uh, apparent.
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