DOCUMENT: Celebrity

Sacha Baron Cohen's Guerilla Tactics

How shell companies, web sites help trick rubes for new film 'Bruno'

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Sacha Baron Cohen's Guerilla Tactics

MARCH 19--As he travels the country searching for Americans to dupe into appearing in his next film, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is operating behind a series of dummy companies and web sites intended to mask his involvement in the follow-up to the hit "Borat" movie.

Claiming to be preparing a documentary for German television, Cohen and his production team have recently approached interview subjects (ballroom dancers, Alabama National Guard officials, and a white supremacist) claiming to be affiliated with Amesbury Chase, a Los Angeles-based production company.

In his new film, Cohen appears as "Bruno," a gay Austrian journalist who asks embarrassing (and sexually charged) questions. Prospective interviewees have been directed to the Amesbury Chase web site, which describes the firm as having "world class facilities, and state-of-the art equipment to help you create dynamic and compelling content." The firm's address is actually a box at Sunset Blvd. Mailboxes. And the company and its web site were both created within the last 18 months.

Three other Cohen front companies--Chromium Films, Cold Stream Productions, and Coral Blue Productions--use the same mailbox drop and phone number as Amesbury Chase. The four firms have nearly identical web sites, all of which originate from the same web hosting firm (click here for screen grabs from Cohen's Amesbury Chase site).

In a brief interview, Stephen Strick, a Los Angeles lawyer who formed Cohen's straw firms, told TSG that, "I'm no longer involved in those" and said he would see if "the production's lawyer" would get back to a reporter.

Last year, Cohen as "Bruno" interviewed Glenn Miller, a 68-year-old Missouri man who describes himself as a Nazi who hates "filthy Jews." Miller, who told TSG that he was paid $2000 in cash for an on-camera interview, claimed that he knew the interview was a set-up and that his interviewer was "a faggot." Before meeting with "Bruno," Miller crowed on a bulletin board that a German TV station would be paying him for an interview in which he could "air my racist and anti-semitic 'ravings' far and wide."

In follow-up posts, Miller, a convicted felon who spent three years in prison for weapons possession and mailing a "declaration of war" to fellow white supremacists, noted that he had met with two female production coordinators who told him that "a German fellow will do the actual interview." He also reported that, according to the two "gorgeous young chicks," the "interviewer is not a jew."

In two posts, Miller included the phone number he was given by Cohen's deputies. The number is listed on the contact page of each of Cohen's four front companies. (8 pages)