Back in June, Michael Granberry wrote in The Dallas Morning News that "at one of those big office parks on International Parkway" in Carrollton, "a whole bunch of people got really mad" and stormed out of the taping of a television show. His 23-year-old son related the story to Granberry: Sacha Baron Cohen -- as alter-ego Bruno, a gay fashion-TV correspondent who fancies himself the biggest Austrian celebrity since Hitler -- had come back to the Dallas-Fort Worth to, yet again, dupe the natives. (Cohen, of course, filmed several scenes from 2006's Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan around town.) Last night during a sneak peek at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, the media finally got to see what led to the mass exodus.
Cohen, who introduced three extended scenes via video, provided a brief outline of the movie's plot, which involves Bruno on a global odyssey that includes stops in the Middle East (where he gets involved in the peace process, like Bono), Africa (where he adopts a child, like Madonna) and the U.S. and A (where he shows Americans how ugly we can be, like Borat). The first scene screened last night involved interviews with parents of small children, who were quizzed about what their kids would and wouldn't do for a fashion shoot involving Bruno's adopted child and a crucifix and, possibly, bees, hornets, lighted phosphorus, being dropped from a four-story window and a small child dressed as a Nazi while pushing a Jewish baby into an oven. Those were just some of the myriad no-no's to which all the Mommys and Daddys said, Yes, absolutely, sounds great if it'll get my kid the job.
Then, it was off to what Cohen called "some ghastly shithole called Texas." And, specifically, Carrollton.
The Carrollton sequence takes place at the taping of a Jerry Springer-like show called Today with Richard Bey -- who, turns out, is still working in the show business. Bruno, in frosted tips and teensy tank, is introduced as a single dad in search of a partner -- a woman, assumes an audience consisting mostly of African American women who prove to have little patience for the "Australian." But, no, Bruno says; he would like a black man, especially to help with the raising of his adopted baby, who's wheeled out in a strolled and dressed in a spangly "GAYBY" T-shirt and what appear to be toddler-sized leather pants. The inevitable furor ensures.
But the shouting turns to chaos when Bruno reveals the fruits of his fashion shoot -- including, indeed, a picture of his baby on a crucifix, with other toddlers dressed as Roman soldiers below. Which is when the walk-outs begin -- even as someone allegedly from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (but so clearly not) intervenes to rescue the wee one. (Indeed, much of the Carrollton sequence has the canned feel of a set-up, including audience members, something seldom evident in Borat.)
Which finally brought us to the third scene: the now-infamous Texarkana cage fight that got real gay real fast.
The movie opens in July, and all three scenes screened last night will be trimmed significantly -- last night's offerings were raw, uncolor-corrected, barely edited sequences.