For real! Ali G swaps Westside for Stateside with a well massive deal

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Ali G's offbeat questions and liberal swearing could soon be outraging suburban America under plans to take his show to the United States.

A deal is being thrashed out between a British production company and HBO, the network that is home to Sex And The City and The Sopranos, for special US shows by the controversial star.

The format will prove a big test of both American audiences and television executives. As British audiences know, Ali G is the last word in political incorrectness, graphic sexual language and holding establishment figures to ridicule. Ali G's alter ego, Sacha Baron Cohen, is known to be unwilling to compromise his routines, even for the fat cheques an American contract would bring.

The deal is being negotiated between Talkback Productions and HBO. Talkback is co-producer of the new Ali G movie, Ali G In Da House. Meanwhile Channel 4, which screens Da Ali G Show on British television, is working out a deal with the New York-based HBO for UK broadcasting rights.

The deal, revealed in Broadcast magazine, is the latest exploitation of what has become a hugely successful character, which made its first appearance on Channel 4's The 11 O'Clock Show in 1999.

He appeared at the Brit Awards last week and managed to grab headlines when interviewed recently on Radio 1. On that occasion he swore on Sara Cox's breakfast show, ensuring public and press attention.

Ali G has already been to America for an episode of his Channel 4 show, in which hemanaged to interview a senior FBI agent. To the agent's bewilderment, Ali G panicked in the middle of that interview when he thought Staines police had informed the FBI of his drug-taking.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: "There is a deal going on, and it is at a pretty advanced stage." No details of the American show are yet available, but production could begin within the next few months.