Dancing for dictators: stars return Gadafys’ million-dollar pay cheques
JUST AS A number of cool indie film stars pocket millions of dollars for appearing on a Japanese TV ad (and it’s written in their contract that the ad can never be screened in the West), the grubby little secrets of more pop/rock stars are being revealed.
The rebellion/intervention in Libya has seen many a skeleton fall out of the music community’s closet as A-listers take to Twitter to berate themselves publicly for receiving shedloads of money for performing for the Gadafy family. As the subject is taken up by the media, more unsavoury “private personal appearances” are coming to light.
After it came to public attention (courtesy of WikiLeaks, which got hold of the Libyan government’s “entertainment” budget sheets) that Beyoncé and Usher were paid handsomely to perform for Gadafy’s son and national security advisor at a 2009 New Year’s Eve party on the Caribbean island of St Bart’s, both acts had sudden changes of mind about the millions they received and promptly announced that they would forward the money to charity.
Just as Libya was really kicking off, we learned that other big-name acts were suddenly emptying their piggy banks and loudly shouting “Sorry about that, it’s all going to charity now”. This after it was revealed that Nelly Furtado and Mariah Carey had also received money for “private performances” connected to the Gadafy family.
“Going forward, this is a lesson for all artists to learn from,” proclaimed La Carey. “We need to be more aware and take more responsibility. Ultimately, we as artists are to be held accountable.”
Drop the “artist” BS, Maria, and the next time someone pushes a cheque for $1 million into your hand for a one-night stand, just ask where the money is coming from.
Perhaps the weirdest revelation was that Furtado was able to get $1 million out of the Gadafys for a 45-minute show in 2007. Nelly recently tweeted: “In 20007, I received 1million$ from the Gaddafi clan to perform a 45 min show for guests at a hotel in Italy. I am going to donate the $ (to charity)”.
Which is all very admirable, but for four years Furtado’s milliondollar payday was okay? Now it’s suddenly become dirty? It’s not as if Gadafy’s general policies and treatment of dissidents was any different back in 2007.
“When I saw Beyoncé and Usher and whoever else was out partying with these Libyan criminals . . . these are people who have stolen tens of billions of dollars from their nation,” said the ex-president of Reprise Records, Howie Klein. “For very, very wealthy popstars to take part in this kind of thing makes me want to puke.”
The performers’ excuse that they were booked to play a private show and didn’t know who was ultimately paying them doesn’t wash. If you’re offered a million dollars for a 45-minute appearance (and there’s usually a private jet to and from the gig thrown in), it behoves you to find out the provenance of the money.
As unrest grips the oil-rich Saudi peninsula countries, sources have it that there’s a few A-list rock stars out there currently quaking feverishly as they watch the action unfold on CNN and wondering when they’re going to be fingered. Expect some more milliond heading to charity any day soon.
Show me the money: Beyoncé and Mariah Carey