That’s the new
Sacha Baron Cohen movie in which the funnyman portrays a despot who rules over the fictional African nation of Wadiya. The name alone probably raised a red flag for savvy recipients, who recalled Cohen’s previous antics. He attempted to seduce Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) in the movie “Bruno,” and fed cheese to former congressman Bob Barr — and later informed the Georgia Republican it was made from breast milk — in “Borat.”
The movie screening purportedly takes place at the Presidential Residence in Zimbabwe on May 12. Realistic specifics, such as a note at the bottom directing attendees to “the Southeast Entrance” of the residence, might convince recipients that it’s a bona fide event.
We called the number provided and actually reached Zimbabwe’s Art Ministry. Confusion ensued — no one there had heard of the movie or its premiere — and we were patched through to the minister’s office. “I’m sure it didn’t come through our ministry,” we were informed.
Zimbabwe’s embassy in Washington similarly pronounced the invitation false. “We know nothing of this event,” the embassy spokesman said.
It seems the screening is a hoax, the kind of publicity stunt Cohen has perfected.
He pulled a high-profile prank at the Academy Awards in which he appeared on the red carpet in character, flanked by leggy female bodyguards and toting an urn that he said held the ashes of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. The actor “accidentally” spilled the remains (later revealed to be pancake mix) onto the Armani tux of E! host Ryan Seacrest.
We hear the invite has reached various media, lobbying and association types around town. But we weren’t able to reach a rep from Paramount, the studio releasing the flick.
It sounds like a match made in geekdom. When the aerospace and defense company ATK hosted a reception at a space symposium last month in Colorado Springs, it invited Bill Nye and the Science Guys — a local college band — to perform with their namesake, the TV science celeb.
But here’s where a microscope might be in order. It just so happens that the band’s keyboardist is the son of the No. 2 official at NASA. And
Lori Beth Garver
, the agency’s deputy administrator, showed up at the event to cheer on her son and to dance with Nye in front of an applauding crowd.
Pretty nice way to curry favor, no?
A NASA spokesman tells us that ATK did not pay the members of the band to perform what he called a short set. ATK did not respond to multiple calls and e-mails seeking comment. Nye is available for public appearances — for a fee, of course — and often speaks and entertains at conferences.
A YouTube video of the event shows Nye dancing (every bit as awkwardly and enthusiastically as you might expect) as the band, wearing white lab coats, performs the theme song to Nye’s old show and the Thomas Dolby song “She Blinded Me With Science.” Conference attendees wearing badges sway and cheer. And Facebook pictures of the event show Garver dancing with Nye.
The description of the video says only that Nye “was in the Colorado Springs area and wanted to do a gig with the Science Guys, and the rest is history” but makes no mention of the NASA connection.
It seems Nye didn’t need to give lessons on the theory of relative-ity.
Securing no favors
Seems even senators are not immune from intrusive, hands-on airport screeners.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein
(D-Calif.) issued a statement Monday congratulating the CIA for foiling a plot by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to blow up a U.S.-bound airplane with a bomb similar to one used by the would-be underwear bomber.
Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, noted the latest bomb was “of new design and very difficult to detect by magnetometer.”
The latest incident, she said, was a reminder of why the Transportation Security Administration and other agencies are “extremely vigilant” on airline security.
And then: “I recently travelled through Dubai and was subjected to three levels of intense security,” Feinstein revealed in the release, “including personal pat-downs of my body.”
A senator getting patted down? A senator who chairs the Senate intel committee? Traveling with a congressional delegation? No diplomatic passport? What is going on here?
As we reported, Feinstein flew to review the situation in Afghanistan about 10 days ago. She flew commercial via Dubai, where, her office tells us, the country’s diligent airport security officials thoroughly screened her.
There were a couple of bag checks before arrival at the airport, we were told, a customs check at the airport, and then another bag check, a pat-down, shoe removal, magnetometers and so forth at the gate.
(What happened to the outrage sparked by that spectacular “Don’t Touch My Junk” warning by airline passenger John Tyner in November 2010 to a TSA screener? Tyner happily let his cellphone record the encounter.)
How do you say “Don’t touch my junk” in Arabic?
With Emily Heil
The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoop.