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Showtime Sets Sacha Baron Cohen’s TV Return ‘Who Is America?’

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Showtime has revealed its new project with Sacha Baron Cohen. The pay cabler announced Monday that the comic’s new television series “Who Is America?” will premiere at midnight Eastern time July 15. Written and directed by Cohen, the seven-episode series will explore individuals known and unknown across the American political spectrum.

“Sacha is a comedic genius who shocks you with his audacity, bravery and inventiveness,” Showtime president and CEO David Nevins said. “He is the premier provocateur of our time, but not for the sake of ‘gotcha’ moments. Behind the elaborate setup is a genuine quest for the truth about people, places and politics. Nobody knows how to cause a stir like Sacha Baron Cohen, and it’s going to be fascinating to watch what happens when ‘Who Is America?’ is released on the world.”

“Who Is America?” marks Baron Cohen’s first series television project since “Da Ali G Show,” which aired on Channel 4 in the U.K. and HBO in the U.S. That series and the two movies that spun off from it — “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” and “Bruno” — elevated Baron Cohen to comedy stardom in the U.S.

Variety first reported last week that Baron Cohen was in talks with Showtime on a new series that would be similar in format to “Da Ali G Show,” which saw Baron Cohen conducting interviews with public figures in disguise as various characters and everyday people.

Cohen teased the project on July 4, releasing a cryptic video via social media that said, in part, “He’s back as you’ve never seen him before.”

The video also featured real footage of Donald Trump insulting Baron Cohen and ends with the logo of the now-defunct Trump University. Other than Trump, Baron Cohen could also be targeting other celebrities. He was reported to have filmed a stunt with O.J. Simpson in his Las Vegas hotel room in February. The new series is created and executive produced by Baron Cohen and is also executive produced by Anthony Hines, Todd Schulman, Andrew Newman, Dan Mazer and Adam Lowitt.

Watch a teaser for “Who Is America?” below:

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Israel says it has conducted ‘wide-ranging’ air strikes against Hamas

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Israeli aircraft and tanks hit targets across the Gaza Strip Friday after shots were fired at troops on the border, the army said, with Hamas reporting three members of its military wing killed.

An army statement said shots were fired at troops during renewed protests along the Gaza-Israel frontier and “in response, (Israeli) aircraft and tanks targeted military targets throughout the Gaza Strip.”

The IDF says its warplanes have carried out ‘wide-ranging’ air strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza, in response to the earlier gunfire.

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US Secretary of State Pompeo demands “full enforcement of sanctions” on North Korea

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told United Nations Security Council envoys on Friday that there needs to be “concrete actions” by North Korea before an easing of sanctions on Pyongyang can be discussed, said Dutch U.N. Ambassador Karel van Oosterom.

“The secretary made very clear we need concrete deeds, concrete actions and only then we can start the discussion,” van Oosterom told reporters after Pompeo informally briefed envoys from the 15-member council, Japan and South Korea behind closed doors at the South Korea U.N. mission.

(New York Times)

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Michael Cohen Secretly Taped Trump Discussing Payment to Playboy Model

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 President Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation with Mr. Trump two months before the presidential election in which they discussed payments to a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump, according to lawyers and others familiar with the recording.

The F.B.I. seized the recording this year during a raid on Mr. Cohen’s office. The Justice Department is investigating Mr. Cohen’s involvement in paying women to tamp down embarrassing news stories about Mr. Trump ahead of the 2016 election. Prosecutors want to know whether that violated federal campaign finance laws, and any conversation with Mr. Trump about those payments would be of keen interest to them.

The recording’s existence further draws Mr. Trump into questions about tactics he and his associates used to keep aspects of his personal and business life a secret. And it highlights the potential legal and political danger that Mr. Cohen represents to Mr. Trump. Once the keeper of many of Mr. Trump’s secrets, Mr. Cohen is now seen as increasingly willing to consider cooperating with prosecutors.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, confirmed in a telephone conversation on Friday that Mr. Trump had discussed the payments with Mr. Cohen on the tape but said the payment was ultimately never made. He said the recording was less than two minutes and demonstrated that the president had done nothing wrong.

“Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Mr. Giuliani said, adding that Mr. Trump had directed Mr. Cohen that if he were to make a payment related to the woman, write a check, rather than sending cash, so it could be properly documented.

“In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” Mr. Giuliani.

Mr. Cohen’s lawyers discovered the recording as part of their review of the seized materials and shared it with Mr. Trump’s lawyers, according to three people briefed on the matter.

“We have nothing to say on this matter,” Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny J. Davis, said when asked about the tape.

(New York Times)

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