The controversy surrounding the film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan has boosted the movie’s popularity and income at the box office, which has surpassed $240 million worldwide, as controversy has done for most movies of a similar daring nature, such as Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 and Bowling for Columbine; however, the stream of anger from and confusion on the parts of participants is beginning to undermine the film’s deeper purpose.
To expose the underlying human character flaws associated with the hodge-podge of ethnicities, beliefs, backgrounds, and religions in the United States is a valid and novel purpose for a film. Unfortunately, the overwhelming outcries of fierce allegations have generated concern that the makers of the film may have let the social experiment derail into a particularly sick version of the popular MTV show Punk’d by supposedly conducting it at the participants’ expense and based on their misunderstanding. The creators of the film were aiming to communicate a strong message to a narrow-minded and corrupt cluster of society but may have ended up making the film itself a hypocrisy contributing to the type of behavior that it bashes.
After the hit movie exploded onto the big screen with record-breaking sales grossing $26.4 million in its opening weekend in the United States and Canada (despite the fact that it was released in fewer than 1,000 cinemas), rumors of scandal and lies arose–as well as a few lawsuits. Two (now-former) fraternity brothers from the University of South Carolina, who are featured in the film traveling in an RV and picking up the hitchhiking Borat, claim that they were lied to and coaxed into signing questionable contracts after a member of the film crew took them out for a night of binge drinking.
Olivier Taillieu, a savvy Beverly Hills entertainment lawyer from Zuber & Taillieu, LLP, has taken on the case. Armed with an aggressive work ethic and extensive experience in the arena of films’ contractual procedures, he believes that he can pinpoint exactly where 20th Century Fox went wrong.
With permission to block the film’s DVD release and the scene featuring the frat boys having been denied by West Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joseph S. Biderman, the heat is turning up as the plaintiffs’ trial for unspecified monetary damages approaches.
So how did Taillieu, a 16-year-old high school dropout from France, end up one of the most sought-after attorneys in Los Angeles, representing the most current high-profile entertainment lawsuit? “Perseverance and determination,” Taillieu said. “I think it’s just part of my mentality. I don’t tend to do things half-ass. If I’m going to blow off steam, I do it all the way, but if I’m going to be serious, and I’m going to be driven, then I do that all the way, as well.” Perhaps Taillieu’s experiences in his rowdy, rebellious teenage days will give him an advantage and insight into representing the two carousing comrades from South Carolina.
Natives of France, Taillieu and his mother picked up and left home when he was 15 years old to find a better life in Los Angeles. A large portion of Taillieu’s life and career success has been derived from the superb example his mother set for him while he was growing up. “She’s demonstrated what one can do when one has no fears, and that’s to just believe in yourself and go for what you want, no matter what obstacles are in front of you,” he said.
After getting caught up in typical teenage punk behavior, Taillieu finally decided to follow “a more intellectual pursuit,” as he put it. He finished high school and enrolled at Arizona State University (ASU) at the age of 23. While working toward his Bachelor of Arts in Communications, Taillieu began looking into graduate school programs and considering law because of its wide array of career options.