Sacha Baron Cohen is back and and as controversial as ever in his new show 'Who is America?', which aired last night on Channel 4 and on Showtime stateside on Sunday night. He was causing a stir before the series even kicked off though as last week former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin wrote a blog post on her website calling out what she described as Sacha Baron Cohen’s "evil, exploitive, sick" humour.
Palin claims that Baron Cohen "heavily disguised himself as a disabled US Veteran, fake wheelchair and all" in an interview for 'Who is America?'.
"Mock politicians and innocent public personalities all you want, if that lets you sleep at night," she said, "but HOW DARE YOU mock those who have fought and served our country."
Her words kicked off a #BoycottShowtime campaign on Twitter while an anti-Baron Cohen billboard appeared across the street from CBS studios in Los Angeles that's said to be by a "conservative street artist".
The character Palin is referring, Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., Ph.D., actually appeared in the first episode of the show last night in an interview with Bernie Sanders.
Showtime have now released a statement defending Baron Cohen and insisting that his character was never depicted as a disabled war veteran to Palin:
"There has been widespread misinformation over the past week about the character of Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., Ph.D., performed by Sacha Baron Cohen on the Showtime comedy series 'Who Is America?' Baron Cohen did not present himself as a disabled veteran, and viewers nationwide who watched the premiere on Sunday can now attest to that.
"In Sunday’s episode, during an interview with Senator Bernie Sanders, Baron Cohen in character as Dr. Ruddick was asked by the Senator if he is disabled, and he stated that he is not and uses a mobility scooter to conserve his energy. In addition, Baron Cohen never presented himself as a veteran of the U.S. military to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin during the booking process or during the filming of her interview, and contrary to her claims he did not appear in a wheelchair. In both the interview with Governor Palin and the interview with Senator Sanders, he did not wear military apparel of any kind."
Here's hoping we won't have too long to wait until we can see the interview for ourselves.
Catch 'Who is America?' on Channel 4 on Monday night's at 9pm.