CATEGORIES Movie News
When co-hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin kick off this year's Academy Awards on March 7, chances are you won't see either of them wrestle naked, dangle over the stage dressed as an angel in a jock strap or hand out spliffs to the crowd.

But oh, what might have been.

As reported by the Hollywood Reporter, it's just those kind of antics the Academy was hoping to prevent when they nixed the first choice for Oscar host: Sacha Baron Cohen. Cohen, who has gained widespread notoriety for his controversial stunts as characters Borat, Bruno and Ali G, was originally slated by producers Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic to headline the upcoming 82nd annual ceremony, an idea that didn't sit too well with the Academy. When co-hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin kick off this year's Academy Awards on March 7, chances are you won't see either of them wrestle naked, dangle over the stage dressed as an angel in a jock strap or hand out spliffs to the crowd.

But oh, what might have been.

As reported by the Hollywood Reporter, it's just those kind of antics the Academy was hoping to prevent when they nixed the first choice for Oscar host: Sacha Baron Cohen. Cohen, who has gained widespread notoriety for his controversial stunts as characters Borat, Bruno and Ali G, was originally slated by producers Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic to headline the upcoming 82nd annual ceremony, an idea that didn't sit too well with the Academy.

"The Academy swatted it down," Shankman told NPR's Teri Gross yesterday. "They thought it was too big of a wild card."

Being a wild card, of course, is what landed Cohen at the Oscars to begin with, as his confrontational hidden camera antics earned the British comedian a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination back in 2007 for 'Borat: Cultural Leanings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.' But his candidacy for Oscar host was likely undermined by some of his more notorious gags, which have included passing marijuana joints to members of British Parliament and his infamously staged MTV Movie Awards confrontation last summer.

At the MTV awards, Cohen, dressed as his satirical character Bruno, landed in Eminem's lap and proceeded to jam his jockstrap-clad hindquarters in the rappers face, a display that disgusted as many viewers as it entertained. And in 2006, Cohen, as Bruno, was cut from rebroadcasts of the MTV Movie Awards due to an off-color joke he told at Jessica Simpson's expense.

Given his iffy relationship with movie awards shows, then, it's no surprise that the more strait-laced Academy took a pass on Cohen as host. And it's probably just as well; after all, we have a feeling Jack Nicholson wouldn't be quite as sanguine about an unexpected guest in his lap.

But it sure would have been fun to find out.