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Sacha Baron Cohen To Adapt A Book (Possibly) Written By Saddam Hussein For The Big Screen!!


Merrick here...

A long time ago I received an e-mail, authored in character, as someone I strongly believe was Sacha Baron Cohen.  A software crash obliterated that message (and a wonderfully funny note it was), and I was never able to follow-up.  In all the years I've been doing work like this, 'tis easily my most haunting an aggravating experience.  I truly adore and respect Cohen's body of work on the whole, and feel we haven't even come close to seeing all he has to offer.  

Which brings us to the following press release from Paramount, announcing that Baron Cohen and a substantial portion of his BORAT / BRUNO team will soon be returning for THE DICTATOR - which is targeting a May 11 release in 2012.  

It's based on a book called ZABIBAH AND THE KING by Saddam Hussein (find it HERE).  

The press release tells you more...

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.Jan. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Paramount Pictures announced today that Sacha Baron Cohen's newcomedy THE DICTATOR will be released worldwide on May 11, 2012. The studio also announced that Larry Charles ("Borat," "Bruno") has come aboard to direct.

The film tells the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed. It is inspired by the best selling novel "Zabibah and The King" by Saddam Hussein.

Producing alongside Baron Cohen are Scott RudinAlec BergJeff Schaffer, and David Mandel. The project marks the first collaboration for Rudin ("The Social Network," "True Grit") and Baron Cohen, while Berg, Schaffer and Mandel (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm) join him as screenwriters on the movie. The movie is the latest collaboration between Baron Cohen and Charles, who previously worked together on "Borat" as well as "Bruno." Dan Mazer ("Borat," "Bruno"), Ant Hines ("Borat," "Bruno") and Peter Baynham ("Borat") will serve as executive producers, reuniting the rest of the Academy Award®-nominated and Golden Globe winning "Borat" team. Todd Schulman ("Borat," "Bruno") is co-producing under Baron Cohen's Four By Two Filmsbanner.

For whatever it's worth, THIS Wiki entry indicates that the CIA believes ZABIBAH AND THE KING  "...was written by ghostwriters with the direct influence of Hussein." Whatever the case, having Hussein's name splashed across the movie's credits and marketing is sure to be delightfully inflammatory and provocative.  Just as Sacha likes it.  

— follow Merrick on Twitter ! — 

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 20, 2011, 11:07 a.m. CST

    This could be a work of genius, or an epic disaster.

    by WriteForTheEdit

    Either way, I can't wait to see it. (Unless this is a joke of some sort...)

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 11:09 a.m. CST

    almost first

    by dzpen

    I could care less about this. Sounds horrible. I am only commenting to appear first, and I've blown that as well.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 11:12 a.m. CST

    Sign me up....I'm sold....I'll be there opening weekend

    by Bobo_Vision

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 11:16 a.m. CST

    Is nice.

    by Yamato

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 11:17 a.m. CST

    Can't wait for the reaction from the right...

    by Peter Franks

    heads will be popping over at Fox "News". "Up next on Fox & Friends, Why does Borat hate America and embrace it's enemies?"

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 11:33 a.m. CST

    What about that Freddie Mercury biopic?

    by Spandau Belly

    I really wanted to see Cohen do that. But this project sounds brilliant. I really admire Cohen and look forward to this.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 11:37 a.m. CST

    Could this be...

    by s0l

    "The Great Dictator" of the 21st century? Could be a great movie if it's done as satire...

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 11:48 a.m. CST

    He's scheduled to shoot the Freddie film first, spandau belly.

    by Peter Franks

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 12:01 p.m. CST


    by macheesmo3

    Cohen would be better off acting in other's films. His schtick has grown a little tiresome for me..... It's easy to write that stuff.... Ballsy as hell to portray it! But If you got the balls to do it, it's not really that groundbreaking.... Kinda just chasing Andy Kauffmans nuts...

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 12:18 p.m. CST

    Sacha Boring Cohen

    by DJJester

    This guy is a one trick pony isn't he? I was impressed with him in Sweeny Todd but that's all I've ever been impressed with him in...

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 12:18 p.m. CST

    Never had any interest in his previous efforts, BUT

    by Fa_Tass_DinoMolester

    with this source material, writers from Seinfeld, and abandoning his "faux-documentary" style for a fully-scripted film this time around, I'm in. Someone needs to take the piss out of the crazed 15th century Muslim world, even if he ends up with a fatwah on his head, (and yes, I'm aware Hussein's Iraq was a "secular" state...I just don't know if anyone in Iraq was/is aware of that).

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 12:26 p.m. CST

    Moustache does not exist in this dojo

    by Cobra--Kai

    LEAKED CONVERSATION: Sacha Baron Cohen on the phone to his agent...<p> "So, I've got this fake Borat moustache... and y'know I really like wearing it. So... I was thinking we could start with a bit of Freddie Mercury right? Doesn't have to be a complete biopic - just the 'moustache years' would be fine... And then once that's in the can - how about... here me out on this... how about - Saddam Hussein? I know he's not the most popular guy but that moustache look him and his boys had going on was just rocking!"<p> "Sacha, I'm not sure about this."<p> "You're fired.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 12:43 p.m. CST

    When will Mel Gibson adapt Mein Kampf for the silver screen?


  • Jan. 20, 2011, 12:45 p.m. CST

    "Could be a great movie if it's done as satire..."


    True. I'm very eager to see Baron Cohen finally try his hand at satire.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 12:48 p.m. CST

    Speaking of adaptations of works by history's worst zealots,


    how's Angelina's film version of Atlas Shrugged coming along?

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 12:48 p.m. CST

    Maybe Sascha Baron Cohen can recruit all of Saddam's

    by Quadrillionaire

    body doubles to work as stand ins.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 12:49 p.m. CST

    Baron Cohen plans to hire Blackwater to do security for the set.


  • Jan. 20, 2011, 12:53 p.m. CST

    Thank God someone is making new ideas.

    by hallmitchell

    Why is it left up to the comedians to do? I've just heard of Wild Bunch, Lethal Weapon remakes. Come on Hollywood. You can't find three original scripts in LA?

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 12:58 p.m. CST

    As much as i'm looking forward to the film...

    by Peter Franks

    the run up to it will be even more entertaining as the humorless horde attacks Cohen, all the while only adding to the allure of the project. It all makes me miss The Ali G Show that much more. Where have you gone Ali, when America needs you most to expose these small-minded bigoted buffoons for who they are? Remember the "Throw the Jew down the well" sing-along? Or that classic bit with Bruno cheer leading at an Alabama football game and sending the hate-mongering horde into a frothy frenzy? Ah, memories.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 1:01 p.m. CST



    poor dictator's only been dead a couple years, right? after being pulled out of a hole and killed for a war he didn't even have anything to do with. or at least one of his look-alikes was. poor guy. say, how's that hunt for osama going, btw? why, he's the Goldberg to our 1984.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 1:16 p.m. CST

    But, who will play...

    by The Dum Guy

    The Evil George Bush?

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 1:22 p.m. CST

    Is that chimp from the "Any Which Way" movies still alive?

    by Peter Franks

    And does Eastwood have him under contract? There's your W. Hmmmm...maybe not. That was one smart monkey. How about a potted plant? Any potted plant would do.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 1:27 p.m. CST

    Will Saddam's estate get royalties?

    by Wormie1

    Will he get a screen credit?

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 1:34 p.m. CST

    If Saddam wrote the book...

    by Peter Franks

    he should certainly get credit. And if there were to be royalties paid, they'd go to? Perhaps there's a granddaughter or an offspring that the U.S. didn't kill? Or, wait...should we hate and punish them too because they have brown skin and pray to a different god?

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 1:49 p.m. CST

    This could be great

    by _Venkman

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 1:56 p.m. CST

    Everyone knows Saddam used a ghost writer.


    His name was Donny Rumsfeld.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 1:58 p.m. CST

    There are reportedly three living daughters...

    by Peter Franks

    and 13 grandchildren. All apparently now in Jordan since they were "liberated" right the fuck out of their own country. The funniest thing is that the U.S. government built Saddam Hussein. The goddamn Reagan administration made him the man he was. And like Noriega before him, as soon as he stopped taking fucking orders from his Republican overlords, the first President Bush declared him to be an "Evil that must be stopped". This has the makings of a spectacular comedy.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 2:03 p.m. CST

    I'm looking forward to the scene where we sell Saddam...

    by WriteForTheEdit

    ...the mustard gas to hit Iran with... know, the mustard gas that we then went on the hunt for, after he went off his leash and all... High-larious hijinks!!!

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 2:08 p.m. CST

    Who will play the role of Saddam's zany sidekick?


    You know, Donald Rumsfeld.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 2:19 p.m. CST

    Interesting. It's like making a movie out of Mein Kampf.

    by mistergreen

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 2:33 p.m. CST

    Another Cohen authored racist screed against the Middle East?

    by John Pente

    "Borat" was about this Jew hating caricature wandring around the United States trying to get Americans to go along with his racist anti-semitic baloney, in a blatant attempt to try and scare American Jews as to the anti-semitism of their fellow Americans, while pretending to be "comedy". The director of Borat also did Maher's "Religulous" which blatantly focused on Islam when it decided to illustrate the violence that Maher blamed on religion (and viciously attacked an anti-zionist rabbi as "supporting the Holocaust" because he doesn't like the Zionism). Now Cohen is being SO brave in taking on a dead dictator, whose country was blown to bits, and how much do you want to bet that the movie "humorously" focuses on all the "humorous" anti-semitism in Hussein's book? All to scare American Jews (just as Borat did) about the raving racists surrounding them, among their fellow Americans and abroad. Hey, let's all get behind bombing Iran, yeah? I mean, Hussein deserved it for being an anti-semite, so lets use that as a justification for murdering civilians in Iran along with that "just" war. Borat is a religious fundamentalist bigot, and the only time he's ever been funny was in "Talladega Nights", playing that silly Frenchman. He didn't write or direct Talladega Nights, however. He's just a mean spirited hater, making propaganda for his mean spirited xenophobic cause.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 2:40 p.m. CST

    Um, bagatelli...

    by Peter Franks

    You do realize that Cohen is Jewish, right? He didn't go travel throughout the U.S. trying to get Americans to go along with HIS racism, anti-semitism, and homophobia as much as he exposed THEIRS. That was kinda the whole point.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 2:40 p.m. CST

    Seriously, don't you pay attention to the news?

    by John Pente

    The propaganda to support bombing Iran (or letting Israel bomb it) has been linked to their leaders anti-semitic comments. A movie like this is designed to support an agenda of going to war again by using Hussein's anti-semitism and our bombing of him, as justification of the new war a-coming. Please, people, call Cohen on his bullshit and don't let him use the ravings of a dead man to support war that being fought to grab oil resources, by people who couldn't care less about actual anti-semitism.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 2:41 p.m. CST

    Peter Franks, DOH.

    by John Pente

    Now, did you have an actual point, or do you usually point out the obvious to perfect strangers, just for the fun of it?

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 2:45 p.m. CST

    Remember when Charlie Chaplin did it?

    by Connor225

    With Hitler?

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 2:46 p.m. CST

    What I meant was ....

    by John Pente

    COHEN is a raging fundamentalist religious bigot, not "Borat", who is the character he plays. I mean, Cohen is ... in real life. He's just not from Uzbekistan, or whatever country he decided to paste with his dehumanizing brush.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 2:49 p.m. CST

    Point that shit somewhere else, bagatelli...

    by Peter Franks

    Hey, point is that you're missing the fucking point. It's humor against the hypocrisy of Americans and particularly in this case, the American government on their mad quest to "disarm the dictator" that we fucking armed. Going to war with Iran has absolutely nothing to do with it.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 2:53 p.m. CST

    Peter Franks, you are being naive.

    by John Pente

    Cohen is a religious bigot, and all he cares about is Israel and bombing its enemies. If he mentions the hypocrisy of the U.S. it will be to imply that the U.S. was anti-semitic in supporting Hussein, and that bombing Hussein fixed that anti-semitic flaw in our foreign policy. By implication, to remain pro-jewish we'll have to bomb Iran.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 3:04 p.m. CST

    And our White Anglo Protestant leaders ....

    by John Pente

    .... will be so HAPPY to prove how pro-jewish they are by bombing Iran and taking their oil. So happy to prove that they are no longer anti-semitic, as they were when they supported Saddam Hussein.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 3:04 p.m. CST

    Christ on a cruise missile, bagatelli...

    by Peter Franks

    Tell us your moon landing and 9/11 conspiracies, too. Look, I can appreciate your concern for further U.S. bombings and feeding the war machine. I share those concerns and want nothing more than peace in our fucking times, but what you're missing is that Cohen's a comedian...his little TV shows and movies don't set or even remotely effect U.S. foreign policy. If you've got an axe to grind with the guy, that's fine. But please, spare us the painting of Borat as some puppet master on a geopolitical scale. It's beyond ludicrous.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 3:05 p.m. CST

    Bagatelli: out of curiosity - how does Cohen's "Ali G" character...

    by WriteForTheEdit

    ...figure into his supposed "pro-Israel" agenda? Far as I can tell, all the guy wants to do is get laughs... being a comic and all...

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 3:58 p.m. CST

    Peter Franks ... writefortheedit

    by John Pente

    Exactly who said Cohen was a puppetmaster on a global scale, personally? His stupid films and "comedy" are just part of an overall propaganda effort. How else do you explain how such bad comedy has received any attention? Because it's comedy that serves the larger agenda of people in power. But it can simultaneously be born of Cohen's own personal bigotry and ethnocentrism. writefortheedit ... There's a reason that he interviews this prominent critic of Israeli policy and makes fun of him by asking stupid questions as "Ali G."

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 4 p.m. CST

    So how many penises will this one have in it!?

    by alienindisguise

    Sounds retarded all the way around.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 4:17 p.m. CST

    by MikeTheSpike

    It can't really be the Great Dictator of our day if there's nobody to lampoon. Like... Hussein is dead.

  • the book looks fake.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 4:35 p.m. CST


    by Phil

    Um.. of course the book's fake... It would be a fabrication by SBC. And Bagatelli- are you mental?

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 4:40 p.m. CST

    Ill advised.

    by PorkChopXpress

    Nobody will go to this. I suppose he's counting on the controversy to get asses in the seats but I seriously doubt public sentiment will be in his corner. He's not THAT well loved. Borat is...but not Sacha.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 4:41 p.m. CST

    Judgement does not exist in this dojo

    by Cobra--Kai

    Peter Franks for the win.<p> Bagatelli for the loony bin.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 4:57 p.m. CST


    by Smack_Teddy

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 5:03 p.m. CST

    PJs King Kong (Also known as 'The Passion of Sadam Hussein')

    by Smack_Teddy

    tossed with Woody Allens Bananas. Headed by Sasha Baren Cohen. I like the sound of that!

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 5:11 p.m. CST

    bagatelli: "...makes fun of him by asking stupid questions as 'Ali G.' "

    by WriteForTheEdit

    Isn't that what "Ali G." did to ALL his guests? (Not like I'm trying to pile on here, but I just don't see any overarching political agenda to Cohen's various routines...)

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 5:19 p.m. CST

    He's the M. Night Shyamalan of comedy....

    by The_Maltese_Vulcan

    One bomb after another.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 5:27 p.m. CST

    okayplease, don't worry...

    by Fa_Tass_DinoMolester

    We're never going to put the war behind us. We're still in Germany and Japan, and Sarah Palin still thinks the Russians are going to attack. <p> We'll also never justify our actions, but I don't think most of the country knows what's going on at this point, anyway...

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 5:38 p.m. CST


    by Smack_Teddy

    you don't get with Borat at least its the total opposite almost. He was using Borat to shone a light on Western sensibilities in relation more than anything i think

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 5:38 p.m. CST

    shone? shine

    by Smack_Teddy

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 5:42 p.m. CST

    bagatelli, your confused

    by dane27

    you seem to be mixing up your religion with race

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 5:51 p.m. CST

    I have no opinion on this

    by Amusetrubator

    I just wanted to test that I finally got my account back. Tag me as a troll if you must.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 6:04 p.m. CST

    Was this book written in Saddam's blood too?

    by kafka07

    like that Koran written in his blood.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 6:35 p.m. CST

    What's the movie gonna be called - "Holes"?

    by FeralAngel

    In ref to where Saddam was hiding, heheh.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 7 p.m. CST

    Could be quite illuminating

    by Teddy Artery

    if not played completely for uncomfortable laughs.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 8:15 p.m. CST


    by SmokieGeezer

    Karl Thommason deserves to come back NOW!

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 8:40 p.m. CST

    Zabibah the King

    by quentintarantado

    sounds like a better title than The Dictator. But what do I know about humor?

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 9:05 p.m. CST

    Why do you keep clogging up threads with that garbage, smokiegeezer?

    by Peter Franks

    No, no the posts. Treat Williams.

  • Jan. 20, 2011, 10:41 p.m. CST

    Maybe he could call it "Our Glorious Leader"

    by Teddy Artery

    and play it completely straight.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 12:19 a.m. CST

    I'm glad to say...

    by justmyluck

    After paying to see BORAT due to hype, I don't watch any of SBC's garbage. Hope he and his producers have fun and make loot keeping people stupid.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 2:57 a.m. CST

    What´s wrong with dictators?

    by CuervoJones

    Francisco Franco wrote a script too

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 5:55 a.m. CST


    by solvseus

    There already was a movie called Holes. Shia LeBoef was in it. I'm ashamed that I know that.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 2:05 p.m. CST

    Will he do 'Springtime for Hitler' next?

    by rabidfnark

    That'd be a logical next step. Gotta say though, I'm interested to see how this shakes out.

  • Jan. 21, 2011, 9:40 p.m. CST


    by macheesmo3

    peterfransk nor bagatelli have the slightest friggin idea what they are talking about....... One repeats anti- republican dogma the other repeats stuff from... jesus i dunno.... some conspiracy website on mars maybe? SBC isn't really that funny. He's just got the cajones to do anything..... When he's done his best work ,IMO, it's been with others and not his own material. Oh and the entire Saddam being armed by the USA is far to impossibly complicated to be expressed in a couple of sound bites on a forum so as to try and make yourself look like you know what you are talking about. You sound like a surrender monkey.... Perhaps France would make a lovely home for you!!

  • Jan. 25, 2011, 5:55 p.m. CST

    You sound like a onerist monkey who wont give up daddys cock

    by Smack_Teddy

    Perhaps the Boers scociety in South Africa would make a lovely home for you. Stop pissing your pants and throwing a hissy fit because you cant deal with the fact we arm shitty dictators and hold some of the responsibility