Sacha Baron Cohen wins da 'Ali G' defamation case

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Sacha Baron Cohen wins da 'Ali G' defamation case

Tue Apr 21, 2009 @ 06:33PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Ali-g Sacha Baron Cohen has a history of attracting interesting lawsuits. He's pretty good at winning them too.

Today, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry Friedman threw out a case filed by a woman who claimed she was defamed during a skit on "Da Ali G Show" in which Cohen interviewed author Gore Vidal about amending the U.S. Constitution. During the interview, Cohen made this joke:

"Ain't it better sometimes, to get rid of the whole thing rather than amend it cos, like me used to go out with this bitch called [Plaintiff's name] and she used to always be trying to amend herself. Y'know, get her hair done in highlights, get like tattoo done on her batty crease, y'know gave the whole thing shaved n very nice but it didn't make any more differnece. She was still a minger and so, y'know, me had enough and once me got her pregnant me said alright, laters, that is it. Ain't the same with the Constitution?"

The plaintiff sued as "Jane Doe," claiming she was physically, emotionally, and economically damaged by HBO's airing of the comment and sought $800,000 in damages from Cohen, HBO, and Channel 4, among other defendants.

The defendants didn't seem to think this one was a threat, allowing counsel at SmithDehn to "outsource" the Motion to Dismiss to US law-trained Indian attorneys as "an innovative and cost-effective way for Channel 4 to fight and win the suit," according to a press release trumpeting the victory.

Well, who needs US lawyers? The motion to dismiss turns out to have worked.

According to Judge Friedman's decision:

"No reasonable person could consider the statements made by Ali G on the program to be factual. To the contrary, it is obvious that the Ali G character is absurd, and all his statements are gibberish and intended as comedy. The actor, Sacha Baron Cohen, never strays from the Ali G character, who is dressed in a ridiculous outfit and speaks in the exaggerated manner of a rap artist. Ali G’s statements are similarly absurd. For example, prior to the reference to Plaintiff, while ‘interviewing’ the author Gore Vidal, Ali G refers to the Constitution of the United States as having been written on two tablets, clearly intended to confuse the Constitution with the Ten Commandments. Altogether, the program is obviously a spoof of a serious interview program. No reasonable person could think otherwise."

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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