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2-min read

Sacha Baron Cohen of 'The Dictator' Fame Sued for $95 Million over 'Who is America?' Prank

US Senate candidate Roy Moore appeared on the Sacha Baron Cohen's controversial Showtime series, "Who is America?" on July 29.


Updated:September 7, 2018, 1:02 PM IST
Sacha Baron Cohen of 'The Dictator' Fame Sued for $95 Million over 'Who is America?' Prank
Sacha Baron Cohen at BAFTA Awards. (Image: Reuters)

New York: Failed Republican US Senate candidate Roy Moore has filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against comedian Sacha Baron Cohen after he fell for a prank on the actor's TV show months after his campaign ended.

The Alabama politician appeared on July 29 on the actor's controversial Showtime series, "Who is America?"

On the satirical program, Cohen spins off a concept he originated with "Da Ali G Show" by appearing as characters in interview segments and skits with subjects who are not in on the joke.

Moore was interviewed by Cohen, who pretended to be an Israeli anti-terrorism expert who had a "pedophile detector." During the episode, the device — which looks like a hand-held metal detector — was shown beeping near Moore, implying that he was a pedophile.

The former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court had faced a firestorm of child molestation and sexual assault allegations during his Senate campaign last year. He has denied any sexual misconduct.

Moore and his wife, Kayla, are suing Cohen, Showtime and its corporate owner, CBS, for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and fraud in connection with the episode, according to a federal complaint filed Wednesday in the District of Columbia. They are seeking more than $95 million in damages.

The Moores claim that the defendants falsely portrayed Roy Moore as a "a pedophile and sex offender" on national television and worldwide.

Neither Cohen's nor CBS' representatives have responded to CNN's request for comment.

Showtime does not comment on pending litigation, a company spokesperson told CNN on Thursday, adding that Showtime had not been served with the complaint. Moore expected to get an award, suit states

The interview took place in February, two months after Moore's Senate campaign ended, under the guise that purported producers of a fake Israeli television station called "Yerushalayim TV" had invited Moore to Washington, the lawsuit states.

Moore believed he would receive an award for "his strong support of Israel" during the interview, according to the lawsuit.

In a statement, Moore's attorney said his client was defrauded and defamed by Cohen, adding the actor "falsely and fraudulently mocked and cast Judge Moore as a pedophile."

"Sasha Baron Cohen, who is not only low class but also a fraudster, will now, along with Showtime and CBS, be held accountable for his outrageous and false, fraudulent and defamatory conduct which callously did great emotional and other damage to (this) great man and his wife and family," attorney Larry Klayman said in the statement.

Other politicians have been tricked on the show

Other politicians have also appeared in Cohen's satirical show.

Jason Spencer, a Georgia state lawmaker, was pranked into believing Cohen was an Israeli anti-terrorism expert. Cohen, in character, then managed to convince the legislator that a series of racist acts would protect him against terrorists.

Spencer, a Republican, engaged in a series of exercises, including dropping his trousers and repeatedly using a racial slur. He resigned from the Georgia House shortly after the episode aired.

Former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has claimed Cohen tricked her into an interview that she thought was for a legitimate historical documentary.

"I join a long list of American public personalities who have fallen victim to the evil, exploitive, sick 'humor' of the British 'comedian' Sacha Baron Cohen," Palin, a former Alaska governor, wrote in a Facebook post.

The show's season ended last month without airing a Palin appearance.

Former US Sen. Trent Lott, former US. Rep. Joe Walsh and Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher, Matt Gaetz and Joe Wilson appeared in the first episode. All are Republicans.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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