Bingo Mishap Results in Historic First Bruno Lawsuit
It felt like it took forever, but Sacha Baron Cohen and NBC Universal finally have their first lawsuit to contend with from the making of Bruno. A Palmdale, Calif., charity director filed a complaint today arguing that Cohen didn't quite live up to his end of the "celebrity" bargain when he arrived in character to call a bingo game. But that was just the first indignity.
Richelle Olson alleges the trouble started one fateful night in 2007, when she tried to wrest the microphone from the "extreme, outrageous, offensive caricature of a gay man dressed in sexually revealing clothing with an Austrian accent." Foul language and more fighting are said to have ensued, followed by Olsen's humiliating, filmed tumble to the stage. As many as three cameramen "attacked" her at that point, she claims, trapping her on the stage as long as five minutes while the suitably Brunoesque melee unfolded on tape.
But it wasn't until she wound up "sobbing uncontrollably" in an adjacent room that she says she went unconscious and knocked her head on the concrete floor, causing two "brain bleeds" and keeping her wheelchair- and walker-bound ever since. Worse yet, Olson and her husband say the injury has triggered a diminishment in "marital relations." They are suing for unspecified damages.
There are no real winners here, of course, but despite poor Mrs. Olson, Cohen's lawsuit-free streak deserves special consideration in his defense. By this point in the pre-Borat machine, no fewer than four suits had been filed by aggrieved subjects; in a rough economic time, Cohen's diligent attention to Universal's interests should be applauded. Either that or his luck, which could just as easily run out with another lawsuit flurry any day now. In any case, here's hoping next time he'll be on the lookout for a more famous charity-bingo organizer -- someone who'll just complain to the media or storm out of the bingo hall before turning to the law. It's so much harder to feel bad about Eminem's face-full of ass than it is about a couple of "brain bleeds" in Palmdale.