It is never a good idea to get drunk and then appear on camera.
Three fraternity brothers from the University of South Carolina learned this lesson the hard way after their drunken ramblings were shown in the film “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America Make Benefit for Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”
In the film, which hit theaters in early November, the three visibly intoxicated men make sexist and racist comments to the fictional Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev, including advocating the return of slavery.
Two of the three men appearing in the film have filed a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox and three production companies claiming that the movie’s producers used alcohol to coerce their participation in the new film by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.
Another lesson: It is never a good idea to sue a major studio alleging coercion through alcohol and then leave drunken pictures all over a MySpace page.
Justin Seay, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, learned this the hard way after the blog The Smoking Gun posted drunken pictures taken from Seay’s MySpace page on its website.
In the lawsuit, the two men identified only as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, alleged that producers took them to a bar, paid for their drinks, and then led them to believe they were picking up a hitchhiker on his way to Los Angeles.
The hitchhiker was really Cohen’s character Borat, a journalist from Kazakhstan, who was on his way to Los Angeles to “marry” actress Pamela Anderson.
The lawsuit claims that the film made the “made plaintiffs the object of ridicule, humiliation, mental anguish and emotional and physical distress, loss of reputation, goodwill and standing in the community.”
The lawsuit said that the men signed the release to appear in the film after being told that it would not be shown in the United States and neither their school nor their fraternity would be identified.
At the urging of producers, the plaintiffs engaged in behavior they would otherwise not engage in, the lawsuit said.
Seay’s MySpace page might suggest otherwise.
In eight photos posted by The Smoking Gun, the lawsuit’s plaintiff was shown holding a red plastic cup, a college party staple, on more than one occasion.
He appeared to have been drinking in several of the photos.
The lawsuit filed by the two men is only one of the several legal headaches facing Cohen and producers.
Residents of the village of Glod in Romania announced plans to file lawsuits in New York, Florida and Germany seeking over $30 million in damages resulting from their portrayal in the film.
Like the fraternity members, they said that producers misrepresented the purpose of the film, in which Romanian village was portrayed as Borat’s native home in Kazakhstan. The villagers, however, said they had never signed any releases.
Cindy Streit, an Alabama etiquette teacher, also filed a complaint with the California Attorney General seeking an investigation into possible business violations under the California Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Streit, who is featured in the film and signed a release, alleged that representatives from a California-based company misrepresented their intentions when they booked an etiquette session with her company.
Russia, a neighbor and close ally of Kazakhstan, banned the film because of potential humiliation to several ethnic groups and religions, according to a government minister.
In spite of legal troubles, the “Borat” movie grossed over $14 million dollars last weekend, bringing its total box office gross to over $90 million dollars in just over three weeks.