Bruno star Sacha Baron Cohen has had his Oscar skit, in which he parodies Avatar, pulled from the Academy Awards ceremony.
Reports said that the Oscars’ producer Bill Mechanic had refused the go-ahead for the skit, in order to protect the feelings of Avatar director James Cameron.
Mr Baron Cohen, who co-wrote the sketch with fellow Jewish actor and comedian Ben Stiller, was to have dressed up as a female Na’vi, a blue-skinned alien from the Oscar-nominated film.
The scene involved Mr Baron Cohen confronting Mr Cameron in the style of American TV chat show Jerry Springer, claiming to be pregnant with Mr Cameron’s love child.
The Academy confirmed that Mr Stiller and Mr Baron Cohen would no longer take part in the ceremony, after previously including them on a published list of celebrities invited to perform.
No reason was given for the cancellation, although Mr Baron Cohen’s spokesman in Hollywood said that there were “amicable creative differences”.
James Cameron has a fearsome reputation in Hollywood for his temper. Actress Kate Winslet, who worked with him on blockbuster hit Titanic, said she would not do so again except for “a lot of money”.
Avatar lead Sam Worthington said Mr Cameron would use a nail gun, to attach to a doorframe the mobile phones of crew members, if they had been left switched on.
Avatar has been nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Film and Best Director. But Mr Cameron is facing stiff competition from ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow, also up for nine awards, whose Iraq war thriller, The Hurt Locker, cleaned up at the BAFTAs last month.
Mr Baron Cohen is no stranger to controversy, having previously upset major politicians, film stars and much of the entire country of Kazakhstan, while making his satirical films and television programmes in the characters of Ali G, Borat and Bruno.
He is currently being sued by a Palestinian activist, who claims his film, Bruno, “ruined his life” by portraying him as a terrorist.