Tuesday, June 30, 2009


By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer|LA Newspaper Group/Daily News

This is one of the GQ photos of Sasha Baron Cohen's Bruno character posing with members of the Birmingham High School football team. (Photo: Mark Seliger)

July 1 -- Birmingham High School administrators will be disciplined for allowing student athletes to appear in a suggestive GQ magazine photo shoot with "Bruno" star Sacha Baron Cohen, Los Angeles Unified officials announced Tuesday.

While parental consent was granted for the April 16 photo shoot, LAUSD Schools chief Ramon Cortines said the forms lacked "specificity" about the nature of the photos.

●●smf's 2¢: 10.2 Miles from Hollywood and Vine - There has been some bad taste here - and some poor judgment. Bruno/Borat star Sasha Baron Cohen is an agent provocateur in the arena of bad taste, and everyone from the football team to the principal to the 24th Floor of Beaudry has been the victim of as powerful a piece of Hollywood Press Agentry as we've seen in this town in decades. A publicity shoot for the movie in GQ magazine has become a cause celebré (or perhaps horriblé) and LAUSD has been played like a rube by the Hollywood hucksters.

You can't buy publicity like this for an upcoming movie release!

Cohen's brand of humor is about provoking predicable overreaction from self-appointed guardians of propriety and good taste – the folks H.L. Mencken called the  ‘boobsgeoisie’ - and Superintendent Cortines has predictably overreacted like a small town school official in a Marx Brothers movie.

Cortines said "appropriate personnel action" would be taken against Birmingham's principal, Marsha Coates, and athletic director, Richard Prizant. But he said personnel matters were confidential and he could not specify the disciplinary actions.

"Rules were broken. The principal is ultimately responsible, but I also hold accountable the athletic director, who is also the school's filming coordinator and was present when the pictures were taken," Cortines said.

"I also want parents to know that this district will allow no one to take advantage of our students."

District officials said they did not know if Birmingham students will also appear in the "Bruno" film, due out July 10.

Officials also expect to learn more about how the film shoot was allowed to occur when they speak to students who return to campus in the fall. The Office of Inspector General is also looking at whether GQ's publishing company, Conde Nast, gave the school any donations above and beyond any payments given to the school for filming on campus.

"I also believe the film and production companies share some responsibility," Cortines said adding that he plans to ban the companies from filming on any district property for a year.

A spokeswoman for Seliger Studios, which organized the photo shoot, could not be reached for comment.

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