According to the CIA, the romance novel Zabibah and the King was written by ghostwriters on behalf of Sadam Hussein. That such a book even exists seems rather unlikely, but seeing as it does, I’m really not at all surprised that Sacha Baron Cohen is turning it into a film.
The Dictator, as they’re calling it, is produced by and will star Cohen, will be directed by Larry Charles and has a screenplay by Seinfeld alumni Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schneider. They might have ditched Charlie Chaplin’s Great from the title but I’m sure they’ll outdo the little man on moustaches.
Ben Kingsley and Jason Mantzoukas have recently been negotiating a pair of fairly mysterious roles in the film. The latest to join them in the queue to sign up is Anna Faris who, according to Deadline, is the final pick for the film’s female lead, a love interest for a despotic dictator at large in the US. Here’s their version of the plot set-up:
Baron Cohen plays a ruthless dictator who heads to the U.S. for a meeting at the United Nations and finds that his number two has replaced him with an unsuspecting sheepherder lookalike. As the dictator wanders the city, he meets the owner of an organic food store. That’s the role Faris is negotiating. She turns around his dictatorial thinking, and there’s a little romance in it as well.
I’m sure anybody who met Faris would find there’s “a little romance as well.” She’s one of our best comediennes, and I’m glad to see her working on something so un-Yogi Bear once again.
I hope Baron Cohen and Charles can make this as worthwhile an endeavour as Bruno and Borat. They could have something very sharp and incisive here, if they take their best whetstones to it.