Will Smith and he who gets slapped

The Ukrainian TV personality who tries to out-Borat Borat got what he wanted: face time with Will Smith.

In fact, he got more than that. He got face-smacking time.

The morning news TV performer -- I won’t call him a reporter -- named Vitalii Sediuk was evidently just up to his usual “hey-look-at-me-messing-with-this-famous-person” hijinks when he accosted Smith on the red carpet at the Moscow premiere of “Men in Black III.”

Sediuk was wearing camera-glare white among dark-clad journalists as Smith moved along from op to op. Smith seemed fine for a few seconds with what seemed to start as a man-fan hug -- Smith even momentarily patted the guy on the back. But when Sediuk started to get smoochy, Smith -- who once played Muhammad Ali -- shoved the man away and delivered a backhanded smack at him, saying, “Hey, man, what the hell is your problem, buddy?” Then, a few feet away, down the rope line, Smith, clearly still rattled, remarked, “He tried to kiss me on my mouth!”


(Remember Ron Paul’s awkward moment in “Bruno,” confronted in a hotel room by Sacha Baron Cohen’s comical seduction attempt? Once Ron Paul realized he’d been punked by “Bruno,” he told an interviewer, he wondered why he hadn’t socked Cohen instead of just walking out.)

Already, people have been jumping on Smith, using words like “homophobic” for his reaction to the boorish Sediuk. (In point of fact, Smith recently affirmed his support for President Obama’s stand on same-sex marriage.)

Others are tsk-tsking at the behavior of this supposed reporter-turned-fanboy. But had they done their homework, they would have seen that this fellow Sediuk has made a career out of this kind of encounter:

As he “covered” the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton last year, Sediuk costumed himself as a Disney prince, mugged to the crowds in front of Buckingham Palace and, in gold braid and epaulets, barged in on a TV reporter during her live shot, apparently asking her to marry him. (I can’t lip-read Ukrainian, but that’s what the body language looked like.)


Using microphone and cameraman as his laissez-passer, just as Sasha Baron Cohen did as Borat, Sediuk has barged into celebrities’ line of sight. In Cannes, he managed to get close enough to present Madonna with a hydrangea, telling her, “You are my princess.” She put the bloom on the floor and muttered to someone sitting next to her, “I absolutely loathe hydrangeas.”

Sediuk has pounced on Kylie Minogue and Bill Clinton, he’s dressed up like Batman, done a send-up of Clark Gable in “Gone With the Wind” and managed to get Larry King to show him how to wear suspenders.

Sediuk’s TV station’s story on the Madonna incident very pointedly displayed how many hits that video got. This isn’t some naive fan, nor is he a reporter who impulsively jumped the journalistic shark. This is a man with a shtick to get face time with stars and airtime on his TV show. No wonder he was smirking as Smith walked away; he’d gotten exactly what he wanted.

So let’s lay off Will Smith, shall we? Stars of his magnitude get all manner of threats, and ever since John Lennon’s murder by a “fan” more than 30 years ago, how can anyone really tell whether that “huge fan” who lunges at them is just overcome with affection, or armed and dangerous?


As for Sediuk, here’s an idea for his next TV “punking.” Next month, Ukraine co-hosts the Euro 2012 soccer championship. Maybe he could show up all tricked out as Stalin, whose policies, 80 years ago, starved millions of Ukrainians to death. Yeah, that’d be hilarious.


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