Showtime host Sacha Baron Cohen revealed Wednesday that he stumbled upon what he thought could be a possible pedophile ring while taping his controversial summer series "Who is America?"
During a classic Baron Cohen-style fake interview, the comedian plays a character named Gio who eventually asks a Las Vegas concierge to get him an underaged boy as a "date." After this concierge offered to put "Gio" in touch with a person who apparently procures such boys, Baron Cohen turned the troubling footage over to the FBI.
"We were shooting some of this at the time of Harvey Weinstein. We wanted to investigate how does someone like Harvey Weinstein gets away with doing what ... get away with criminality, essentially. And the network that surrounds him. We decided that Gio would interview a concierge in Las Vegas," Baron Cohen explained to Deadline.
"During the interview, I revealed that basically Gio has molested an eight-year-old boy," he continued. "Now, mind you, this is extreme comedy and we thought that the guy would leave the room. Instead, this concierge stays in the room and I go, listen, you’ve got to help me get rid of the problem. And this guy starts advising Gio how to get rid of this issue. We even at one point talk about murdering the boy, and the concierge is just saying, 'well, listen, I'm really sorry. In this country, we can't just drown the boy. This is America we don’t do that.' And then, in the end, he puts me in touch with a lawyer who can silence the boy."
Baron Cohen then asked the concierge about getting him an underage boy as a "date":
"And then at the end of the interview I say, listen, I want to go out and celebrate now. Can you get me a date for tonight? He says, ‘what do you mean, a date?’
I go, you know, like a young man. He says, ‘well, what kind of age?’ I say, lower than Bar Mitzvah but older than eight. And he says, ‘yeah, I can put you in touch with somebody who can get you some boys like that.’
The footage was immediately handed over to the FBI by Baron Cohen's team "because we thought, perhaps there's a pedophile ring in Las Vegas that's operating for these very wealthy men," he told Deadline. "And this concierge had said that he’d worked for politicians and various billionaires."
In the end, said Baron Cohen, "the FBI decided not to pursue it."
Earlier in the interview, Baron Cohen said he felt compelled to create the Showtime series because of one man: President Donald Trump.
"I haven’t done this style of comedy for many years. My last attempt at it was the movie, Bruno. Donald Trump got elected and like many people, I started emailing my friends, and sharing articles and they were sharing stuff with me, and that was how we were dealing with upset and uneasiness at having this man take over," he said.
"I realized I had to go undercover again," added the "Bruno" star. "As difficult as it was, as unpleasant as I knew it would be, I felt it was time to create new characters that were designed to expose people, and expose politicians and those in power."
Read the full Deadline interview, here.