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The drunken fraternity brothers, the unsuspecting etiquette instructor, a country bingo hall, and more.
All have been plaintiffs in suits filed over the years against comedian and trickster Sacha Baron Cohen — and the companies producing such films as Borat (2006) and Bruno (2009) — over the years and all have said they had no idea their participation in interviews would reach the silver screen a la companies such as NBC Universal Inc., named in at least one lawsuit.
The problem is, as a Hollywood Reporter columnist points out in a piece this week on Mr. Cohen’s latest project “Who is America?,” all these people signed release forms before filming and virtually every suit has laid stagnant in courts or has been tossed out by a judge.
With the new embarrassing take on American culture — the theme of Mr. Cohen’s project — will the production companies and comedian face more lawsuits?
“The short answer is that Cohen's ‘victims’ face an uphill battle,” columnist Zachary Elsea writes. “Most of the lawsuits spawned by ‘Borat’ and ‘Bruno’ a decade ago were thrown out in their infancy. …The first legal obstacle that tripped up (Mr.) Cohen's interviewees was their own signatures. Before filming, most of the plaintiffs signed legal releases entitled ‘Standard Consent Agreement’ or something similar. In those contracts, the interviewee agreed that he or she ‘waives, and agrees not to bring at any time in the future, any claims against the producer… .’”