Estate of late Holocaust survivor sues creators of ‘Borat’ over appearance in upcoming sequel
FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 23, 2006, file photo, actor Sacha Baron Cohen arrives in character as Borat for the film premiere of "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. Borat is back. Sacha Baron Cohen has filmed a sequel to his 2006 film “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” that Amazon plans to release before the 2020 election. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)
The woman spoke as an expert in Jewish studies but was horrified when she found out Sacha Baron Cohen’s intentions.
The estate of a recently deceased Holocaust survivor has sued the creator and distributor of the upcoming “Borat” movie, attempting to keep her interview out of the spoof, which is set to be released by Amazon Prime October 23.
The lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of Fulton this week, and it states actor Sasha Baron Cohen, as his character Borat, interviewed Judith Dim Evans in Atlanta earlier this year about the Holocaust “under false pretenses with the intent of appropriating her likeness. Ms. Evans did not consent to the commercial use of her likeness in ‘Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm,’ or in a comedy ‘mockumentary.'"
The plaintiff is requesting Evans’ scenes be removed from the film and is seeking damages of less than $75,000 for false light invasion of privacy, appropriation of Evans' likeness for commercial gain, and fraud.
The movie, based on previews, has the fake Central Asian Borat yet again running around the United States doing silly, often outrageous things. This time, he is often accompanied by his fictional daughter, pranking Americans, including residents of Macon and a cop in Lilburn. The original film, which came out in 2006, was a worldwide hit, generating more than $262 million.
Evans, who lived in Aiken, South Carolina, passed away over the summer, so Evans' daughter Michelle Dim St. Pierre, as executor of her estate, filed the lawsuit on her behalf.
The lawsuit said Evans was approached to talk about the Holocaust for what she thought was a serious documentary. The interview happened at a synagogue in Dunwoody on January 29.
“Upon learning after giving the interview that the movie was actually a comedy intended to mock the Holocaust and Jewish culture, Ms. Evans was horrified and upset,” the lawsuit said. “Had Ms. Evans been informed about the true nature of the film and purpose for the interview, she would not have agreed to participate in the interview.”
The lawsuit said the movie producers attempted to pay her for participating in the interview, but she declined.
Darryl Cohen, an Atlanta-based entertainment attorney, said participants for such a project typically sign waivers which give the producers free rein to use what was recorded any way they want.
Adam Hoipkemier, the Watkinsville attorney representing the Evans' estate, in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday declined to say if Evans actually signed any paperwork regarding the film.
Hoipkemier has not seen the film but knows that Evans will be included in the final cut.
The defendants, Amazon Prime and Oak Springs Productions, did not respond to requests for comment.
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years.