- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Diplomatic no-row

President Bush will host the President of Kazakhstan at the end of this month for talks that will cover, in the words of a White House spokesman, “a range of issues including democracy promotion, the war on terror, energy diversification, expanding prosperity, and our common commitment to working together to advance freedom and security” — not British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and his controversial new film “Borat,” as some media reports have suggested.

Mr. Cohen, 35, creator of HBO’s “Da Ali G Show” and co-star of the summer hit “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” has infuriated government officials in the Eurasian country with his portrayal of Borat, a bumbling Kazakh TV host, in the new feature film. The opening scene, which shows Borat lustily kissing his sister goodbye and setting off for America in a car pulled by a horse, had audiences in stitches when it was first shown last week. However, the movie, which has just premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, has prompted a swift reaction from the Kazakhstan government.

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev will meet with Mr. Bush at the White House in the next few weeks, embassy spokesman Roman Vassilenko told The Washington Times. This fall, the Kazakh government will buy “educational” TV spots and print advertisements about the “real Kazakhstan,” Mr. Vassilenko says.

“The government has expressed its displeasure about Borat’s representation of our country. Our opinion of the character has not changed,” he adds.

“We understand that the film exposes the hypocrisy that exists both here in the U.S.A. and in the U.K. and understand that Mr. Cohen has a right to freedom of speech. I cannot speak for the president himself, nor for the government, but I don’t expect President Nazarbayev and Mr. Bush will discuss the film. Our ongoing media campaign has nothing to do with Borat, but rather with telling the Americans about the real Kazakhstan. The bottom line is we want people to know that he does not represent the true people of Kazakhstan.”

The Kazakh government previously has said it may consider legal action against Mr. Baron Cohen for having Borat, among other things, make fun of his homeland, demean women, slander Gypsies and urge listeners to “Throw the Jew down the well. So far, no lawsuit has been filed, however.

Anti-Borat hard-liners also pulled the plug on borat.kz, Borat’s Kazakhstan-based Web site, after his frequent displays of anti-Semitism and his portrayal of Kazakh culture.

Report: No. 2 for Brit

Britney Spears gave birth to her second son early Tuesday at a Los Angeles hospital, Associated Press reported yesterday, citing accounts from several entertainment magazines.

The baby boy was delivered about 2 a.m. at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Us Weekly reported on its Web site yesterday, citing an unnamed family source. The child was delivered by a scheduled Cesarean section, People.com reported.

The newborn’s name wasn’t released immediately. Leslie Sloane Zelnik, Miss Spears’ New York-based publicist, did not return a call from AP seeking comment.

It was the second child for Miss Spears, 24, and her husband, Kevin Federline, 28. The baby arrived just days before their son Sean Preston’s first birthday today. Mr. Federline also has a daughter and a son with actress Shar Jackson.

Houston, Brown part

Whitney Houston has filed for divorce from Bobby Brown, her husband of 14 years, her publicist confirmed yesterday.

Publicist Nancy Seltzer declined to reveal where or when Miss Houston filed the divorce papers and said the singer had no statement to make, AP reports. The couple, who live in Alpharetta, Ga., and have one child, a 13-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, have had a tumultuous marriage. Miss Houston, 43, had her greatest musical success in the 1980s and 1990s when she had several No. 1 records on Billboard’s Hot 100, including the megahit “I Will Always Love You,” from the 1992 film “The Bodyguard,” in which she also starred opposite Kevin Costner. She hasn’t been as active in the last decade and has battled drug problems.

Mr. Brown, 37, recently reunited with his old soul group New Edition for a show at July’s Essence Musical Festival. He has had a history of drug and alcohol arrests and was sentenced to 90 days in jail in 2004 for missing three months of child-support payments for two other children.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.



Click to Read More

Click to Hide