The world of divas
Celebrities sometimes let fame go to their heads.
Celebrities sometimes let fame go to their heads.
ENTERTAINMENT writers are constantly on the look out for divas – celebrities who have become too big for their boots.
It used to be that calling someone a diva meant she was a great singer but of late, it has taken on the meaning of being a prima donna of any gender who makes unreasonable demands and acts in a spoilt manner.
Those who just made the big-time are usually under greater scrutiny. Twilight star Taylor Lautner was recently labelled a diva for suing McMahon’s RV for failing to deliver a trailer made to his specifications on time. He had cited “emotional distress” at having to use a different trailer during the filming of a movie.
While it has since emerged that Lautner did indeed have a case against the trailer makers, and has donated the US$40,000 (RM128,000) settlement he received from them to a children’s charity, some critics are still convinced that Lautner’s diva potential is just waiting to explode.
Musical drama Glee actress Lea Michele was in May panned for being a diva when she refused to tell a photographer her real name at a gala event, an incident that many said seemed to suggest she expected to be known to photographers.
While Michele tweeted her apologies after the incident and said it was a joke that backfired, many were unconvinced. Entertainment writers are keeping a close watch on her and other cast members of Glee following the drama’s popularity.
Once they have achieved success, many celebrities begin to lose touch with reality, often with their fans’ connivance.
Several years back, a Bollywood star was three hours late for a scheduled interview with a colleague of mine at the newspaper we were working for. Not only did he not apologise, he took it as his due that reporters should wait for him matter of course.
Despite the diva behaviour, instead of criticising him, my colleague, obviously a
Lea Michele is said to have refused to give her real name to a member of the media because she expected to be known to them. fan and even more obviously charmed, had glossed the lateness over and even said the star was worth the wait.
It is this easy willingness on the part of fans to overlook bad behaviour that has spawned a number of divas who are as famous for their work as well as for their contract riders, a list of demands when they are contracted to work.
While such riders can be about a rising star’s no-nudity clause, these days they fill several pages of everything from wanting everything in the room or trailer to be white in colour to the size of a trailer as well as the supply of a personal chef, trainer, bodyguards, nannies and assistants.
Madonna, Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez have often been cited as examples of demanding divas when it comes to what needs to be provided for them during their performances but as contract riders are confidential agreements, it is unclear if they truly deserve their reputation.
Lopez has been on record as saying that many of the demands attributed to her were untrue or made by her managers without her knowledge. She also earned brownie points when she revealed during a recent interview with talk show host Jay Leno that she still sometimes made her own bed.
And the word among gossip columnists is that many celebrities have far surpassed the three pop divas in the perks they ask for.
Fans were able to get an inside look at a top star’s demands in 2004 when actress Sharon Stone’s five-page rider list was leaked after it was proffered as evidence in a court case between Stone and movie producers over a sequel to the 1992 hit Basic Instinct.
Apart from three nannies, two assistants, a personal chef and armed bodyguards, Stone’s demands also included first-class seats for herself and her family and friends in the event that a private jet is not used, a presidential hotel suite, a trailer with all the mod cons and a requirement that no other trailer be better than hers, a chauffeur-driven “first class car” and a convertible sedan for her own use.
Then there were incidentals like Pilates equipment during movie shoots and a demand that there be no cigar smoking on set.
But it is the late King Of Pop Michael Jackson who is still remembered as the queen of divas for his often quaint demands. Jackson had a knack for asking for entire makeovers at the hotel suites he stayed in.
According to a music studio source, he had once asked for a room to be built in the studio so that Bubbles, his chimpanzee, could watch him at work.
He had also asked for a six-meter wall to be built at a London hotel to “protect his privacy” when he was in the city for a performance at a major music event.
It has to be remembered that not every demand is met, and very often, fans do expect celebrities not to be too down-to-earth.
Very often, it is how the demands are made, the attitude of celebrities as well as how popular they are that determine the acceptability of the things they do.
So it was that Taiwanese pop princess Jolin Tsai received much negative feedback when a Shanghai variety show host complained that she had set three conditions for performing during the show – not to feature Jay Chou songs, not to be asked about her relationship with Chou, and to have the stage to herself when she performed – that were impossible to fulfil.
It is still unclear whether Tsai really made those demands or an overeager manager had misread the singer’s intent, but Tsai’s reputation took a dive after the purported incident and many, rightly or wrongly, seem ready to judge her a diva at the first sign of the next infraction.
Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, however, has escaped being labelled a diva even though he travels with a huge entourage, including an assistant whose main job is to make him coffee just the way he likes it. To his fans, Khan is pampered but not spoilt.
Diva-divining is an art and not a science, but watchers are in agreement that when celebrities exceed their bounds, they should be quickly cut down to size, so celebrities beware! n In this column, writer Hau Boon Lai ponders the lives, loves and liberties of celebrities.
Taylor Lautner was branded a diva when he sued a trailer maker for breach of contract.