Showtime's Who Is America?, Sacha Baron Cohen's politically charged docu-style comedy, will not return for a second season, the star has confirmed

By Maura Hohman
December 21, 2018 03:12 PM
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Showtime’s Who Is America?, Sacha Baron Cohen‘s politically charged docu-style comedy, will not return for a second season, the star has confirmed.

During an episode of The Hollywood Reporter‘s Awards Chatter podcast released Wednesday, Cohen, 47, told host Scott Feinberg that more episodes weren’t in the cards.

“I will never be able to get a politician to bare his buttocks while screaming ‘God Bless America!’ and screaming the N-word,” the comedian said, a reference to Georgia State Rep. Jason Spencer’s actions on the program, which prompted calls for his resignation, in July. (He resigned a few weeks later.)

Rep. Jason Spencer, Sacha Baron-Cohen
Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP; David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

The father of three — he’s married to actress Isla Fisher — also revealed that to continue the show, he’d need to create more characters, and he didn’t really have any more up his sleeve. He assumed different personas throughout all seven episodes in the series.

“It’s like The Ali G Show in England — I did one season. And the idea is not to make it a Seinfeld or an SNL,” he explained, adding that getting into costume was also a challenge.

“It is grueling … I’m too lazy to do this,” he said.

Reps from Showtime declined to comment.

On a panel in August, however, the network’s CEO David Nevins said he was “dying to bring [Who Is America?] back,” Deadline reports. He also called the show “a risk I am really glad we took.”

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The limited series was filmed in secret and was only announced weeks before its premiere, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Its goal was to get a range of politicians, celebrities and regular people to say ridiculous things on camera, and several litigations are still pending against him and the network as a result.

Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher
HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty

For example, former Alabama Supreme Court justice Roy Moore, who was accused by nine women of sexual misconduct during his race for Alabama Senate in November 2017, launched a $95 million lawsuit against Cohen in September. In it, he claimed he was tricked into appearing on the show, according to court documents obtained by both Variety and TMZ.

On the July 29 episode, Moore sat down with Cohen, who pretended to be an Israeli security expert named Erran Morad, to discuss the development of a machine that detects pedophiles.

Sacha Baron-Cohen
Gavin Bond/Showtime

At one point, Cohen’s character demonstrated how the fictional device would work by waving it at Moore. The device then beeped, prompting Moore to abruptly end the interview.

“I’ve been married for 33 years. Never had an accusation of such things… Certainly, I’m not a pedophile, okay?” Moore said before exiting the room.

Sacha Baron Cohen
David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

“This false and fraudulent portrayal and mocking of Judge Moore as a sex offender, on national and international television, which was widely broadcast in this district on national television and worldwide, has severely harmed Judge Moore’s reputation and caused him, Mrs. Moore, and his entire family severe emotional distress, as well as caused and will cause Plaintiffs financial damage,” the lawsuit states according to the outlets.

Sacha Baron-Cohen as Borat
Sacha Baron Cohen as ""Borat"" during ""Borat"" Sydney Press Conference at Opera House in Sydney, NSW, Australia. (Photo by Dani Abramowicz/FilmMagic)

Although Moore did sign a release before going on the show, he alleges he signed it under false pretenses. He originally thought he was being brought on to accept an award for his support of Israel.

More recently, in December, the politician filed a contention saying that he was “fraudulently induced” to appear on the show, Deadline reports. Showtime, Cohen and CBS Corporation have until Jan. 4 to reply.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Who Is America? was one of the summer’s highest-rated shows with an average of 3.4 million weekly viewers. Cohen was nominated for a Golden Globe for best actor in a TV musical or comedy.