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Sasha Baron Cohen to bring Saddam novel to big screen

By the CNN Wire Staff
Sasha Baron Cohen will team up with "Borat" director Larry Charles for his next film, "The Dictator."
Sasha Baron Cohen will team up with "Borat" director Larry Charles for his next film, "The Dictator."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "The Dictator" is inspired by "Zabibah and the King"
  • "Zabibah" is said to be an allegory for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 1991
  • "The Dictator" is scheduled to be released in May 2012, Paramount says

(CNN) -- Borat meets Saddam Hussein?

Maybe not, but Sasha Baron Cohen's next comedy project draws from the former Iraqi strongman -- or rather from his writings.

Hussein, executed in Iraq in 2006, fancied himself something of a novelist, penning four of them while ruling Iraq. Baron Cohen's next film, "The Dictator," is inspired by Hussein's "Zabibah and the King," a romance novel originally published anonymously in 2000, reportedly as an allegory for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in the First Gulf War.

Baron Cohen's version "tells the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed," according to Paramount Pictures, which will distribute the film. Larry Charles, who directed Cohen's comedies "Bruno" and "Borat," also will direct "The Dictator."

The film is slated for release on May 11, 2012, Paramount said.

Baron Cohen is producing, along with Scott Rudin -- who produced Joel and Ethan Coen's "True Grit" -- Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer and David Mandel. Berg, Schaffer and Mandel will pitch in with the writing chores.

 
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