Universal Pictures calls "Bruno" suit frivolous

Fri Jun 5, 2009 8:49pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Movie studio Universal Pictures on Friday responded to a lawsuit filed earlier this week against its parent company and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen calling it "frivolous" and saying its claims were "baseless."

California resident Richelle Olson sued Cohen and Universal Pictures' parent NBC Universal, the media division of General Electric Co., in Los Angeles Superior Court over an encounter with Cohen when he was filming his movie "Bruno."

Olson claims Cohen showed up at a charity bingo event in 2007 as the flamboyant gay Austrian character Bruno and pushed her. Olson says she fell and was surrounded by cameramen who attacked her. Later, she says she fainted, hit her head causing bleeding to her brain, and must now use a wheelchair.

But in its statement, Universal said: "filmed footage of the full encounter, which took place more than two years ago, clearly shows that Ms. Olson was never touched or in any way assaulted by Sacha Baron Cohen or any member of the production and suffered no injury."

Universal said "we expect each of the defendants to be fully vindicated."

"Bruno," which lands in theaters in July, follows Cohen's 2006 surprise hit "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," which made more than $260 million at worldwide box offices.

That comedy featured the comic actor in the role of a naive and rude journalist from Kazakhstan named Borat, who has unscripted meetings with dumbstruck Americans.

"Borat" attracted several lawsuits from individuals Cohen encountered while shooting that film. Both Borat and Bruno are characters Cohen invented for his "Da Ali G Show," which aired on British and American television.

(Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

<p>Sacha Baron Cohen, dressed as the "Bruno" character from his film of the same name, poses for photographers as he arrives at the 2009 MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles May 31, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>