WHETHER he's unwisely killing the golden goose, just tired of goosing audiences or simply wanting to take wing in a different direction,
Sacha Baron Cohen
yesterday that his terrifically successful creation, Kazakh journalist-cum-moron Borat, is kaput, as is Cohen's other character, rapper Ali G.
Maybe he just couldn't stand the competition. Everybody wanted to interview Borat. But Cohen . . . ?
"I came to love them, so admitting I am never going to play them again is quite a sad thing," the 36-year-old actor-comedian said.
"It is like saying goodbye to a loved one. It is hard, and the problem with success, although it's fantastic, is that every new person who sees the Borat movie is one less person I 'get' with Borat again, so it's a kind of self-defeating form, really."
Considering that his film "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" was made on an $18 million budget and grossed $128 million in the U.S. alone, it's hard to see Cohen as being in any way defeated, self- or otherwise.
But an indication that he wants to go straight, or at least straighter, is his appearance as a singing barber in the currently-in-theaters "Sweeney Todd."
UNHAPPY WITH CHUCK ROAST: There's a new book out called "The Truth About Chuck Norris," and the subject of the book - wooden, actor-ish Chuck Norris - is karate-chopping mad.
In fact, yesterday he sued Penguin Group Inc. and the book's creator, Ian Spector, to stop distribution of the book, saying his good image is being spoiled by a tome that depicts him as callous and unlawful, and that he says includes false "facts" that are sometimes racist and lewd.
If Borat hadn't been killed off, he could have played Norris in the movie version.
KIEFER CLEANS UP: In the clink for a 48-day DUI-inspired visit, Kiefer Sutherland's getting the full treatment. According to World Entertainment News Network, Sutherland - who celebrated his 41st birthday in the slam yesterday - is laundering dirty sheets and cooking for his fellow cons. According to a Glendale City Jail spokesman, in his cleaning tasks Sutherland "needs to wear rubber gloves for the job. It's not a pretty sight. Because it's such a messy job, Sutherland is allowed to shower twice a day."
Whether he he gets to do it alone wasn't mentioned.
Meanwhile, Kiefer's not the only one missing his day job. Former President Bill Clinton, stumping in Iowa for wife Hillary, told breakfastmates that he prayed the writers strike ends soon. The reason? "How will we know what the bad guys are up to if there's no '24'?" he asked.
_ Oscar-winner Denzel Washington is reportedly looking for a play to get him back on the Broadway boards.
_ After seven years of separation, Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli were divorced Thursday. *