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School officials not amused by comedian's photo shoot

Sacha Baron Cohen, in his new guise as gay Australian fashionista 'Bruno,' appears in a cover story in GQ magazine that includes photos of him cavorting with the Birmingham High School football team.

June 30, 2009|Mitchell Landsberg

After he offended the entire nation of Kazakhstan, the Los Angeles Unified School District was apparently child's play for comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.

Cohen, in his new guise as gay Austrian fashionista "Bruno," appears in a cover story in the latest issue of GQ magazine that includes a photo shoot with the Birmingham High School football team. A slide show on the GQ website shows Cohen cavorting with the uniformed players while wearing shoulder pads, tight red shorts, an athletic cup and little else. In one shot, the "Borat" star is lying on top of a player he has evidently just "tackled."

District officials, beginning with Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, were not amused.

The stunt has added fuel to a debate over whether Birmingham should be allowed to convert to a charter school. The conversion is up for a school board vote Wednesday.

"This recent GQ thing has not helped matters," Cortines said Monday. "We've allowed our students to be used, and not in the most glamorous circumstances, either."

Cortines blamed Birmingham Principal Marcia Coates and athletic director Rick Prizant, and asked local district Supt. Jean Brown "to take the appropriate action." Both Coates and Prizant declined to comment.

Brown, who said the district was "very embarrassed" by the shoot, said she was attempting to determine who was responsible, after which "we'll decide what our next steps are going to be."

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mitchell.landsberg@latimes.com

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