The world of di­vas

Celebri­ties some­times let fame go to their heads.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ENVIRONMENT - HAU BOON LAI

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.


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