Despite what celebrities try to have us believe, ultimately a check is a check. That explanation much better clarifies why so many pop stars have gone over to countries in political strife to perform for notorious dictators and essentially glamorize their oppressive regimes. For the greater part of the last year, Kanye West has been in the headlines for being Mr. Kardashian, but he recently received backlash for performing at Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s grandson’s wedding. Nazarbayev’s government was accused of violating basic human rights by imprisoning social activists just last year, so the news of West receiving $3 million to perform at the wedding didn’t go over well with the public. Here are 4 other stars that have performed at questionable venues for a fat check, only to plead ignorance later on.
Beyoncé On New Year’s Eve 2009, Beyoncé was paid approximately $1 million to perform for the sons of former Libyan ruler Muammar Gadhafi, Mutassim and Hannibal. Considering this was the same Gadhafi that was overthrown and murdered by his own people less than 2 years after the fact, it’s not too surprising that the show was controversial. Gadhafi had been being called the “mad dog of the Middle East” since Reagan’s time, so there really wasn’t any excuse for not being up-to-date with the political climate in Libya. To be fair, Usher, Nelly Furtado, 50 Cent, and Mariah Carey also received large sums of cash to perform for the Gadhafi sons, and all singers allegedly donated their checks to charities. After they got busted, of course.
Jennifer Lopez Earlier this year, Jennifer Lopez performed in Turkmenistan, a place that has the dubious honor of being named “one of the world’s most repressive countries” by the Human Rights Watch. Performing for President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s birthday, Lopez reportedly received $1.5 million for her efforts. Lopez also tried to play the ignorance card, but homegirl has also performed in Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, 2 countries that are not too far off from the conditions in Turkmenistan. Serious question: How many "Plead Ignorance Free" cards can someone use before we can officially just call them dumb?
Sting Sting performed at a concert put together by Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov’s daughter in 2010. This was hugely controversial, namely because the Uzbekian government has been accused of literally burning protesters alive. Sting is Sting, so it’s common knowledge that he isn’t exactly struggling for dollars, and he received a measly $1.5 million or so for his performance. Sting was one of the few celebrities who didn’t play dumb and owned up to what he did, albeit in a chop logic statement. Claiming that he was fully aware of the “appalling reputation” of the Uzbek president, he stated that he played the show anyway because “cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counter-productive, where proscribed states are further robbed of the open commerce of ideas and art and as a result become even more closed, paranoid and insular." OK, Sting. Keep on rocking that Bullsh*t Thesaurus.
Seal & Hilary Swank In 2011, Seal performed at Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s birthday bash, the same party that Hilary Swank was caught hanging at. Swank’s people had apparently told her about the human rights violations that Kadyrov had been accused of, but she ignored their warnings and not only went to the party, but talked about how awesome he was after the fact. Seal performed at the same party, and after he was questioned about his actions, he stated that he was merely “playing for the people.” If “people” means a group of elite despots that run a country full of citizens who couldn’t even afford a concert ticket, then Seal is definitely in the right.
More:Farewell To Cal WorthingtonRockers Love Models, And Vice Versa'The Mortal Instruments' Sequel Put On Hold
From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
British rocker Pete Doherty has cast doubt over his comeback tour because he can't bear to split his earnings with his Babyshambles bandmates. The former Libertines frontman has not hit the road with his group for three years, preferring to perform as a solo artist, but he is currently touring the U.K. with his bandmates to promote their new album.
However, on the eve of the trek, the troubled singer confessed he was on the brink of pulling out because he will only earn a fifth of the money he makes playing gigs on his own.
He tells NME magazine following the first concert of the tour in London, "Up until about three hours ago I was gonna (sic) pull the whole (tour) to be honest... I can't wait to get on the road and split the money I'd normally get all myself five ways - it's great."
Rapper Dmx's recent naked streak through a Detroit, Michigan hotel was part of a "playful dare between friends", according to his representative. The Party Up (Up In Here) star, who has struggled with drug addiction for years, hit the headlines on Monday (09Sep13) after video footage of himself running completely nude around the corridors of a hotel emerged online.
The clip was shot hours before he performed at the city's Return of the Legends gig with Eve and Lil' Kim on 31 August (13).
A statement released to AllHipHop.com reads: "X and the team were killing time at the hotel before the concert and dared each other to streak in the hallway. No one was aware that security cameras were rolling and it was just a playful dare between friends."
When asked about the incident by editors at TMZ.com, DMX claimed he just "felt like" stripping off, adding, "I'm not ashamed of anything I got."
Meanwhile, DMX is set to sit down for an hour-long interview with U.S. TV therapist Dr. Phil McGraw to discuss his personal troubles and his faith in God. The candid chat will be taped for the Dr. Phil show in Los Angeles on Monday (16Sep13) and air at a later date.
Basketball star Lebron James is preparing to marry his fiancee in California this weekend (14-15Sep13), according to a U.S. report. The Miami Heat star proposed to his longtime partner Savannah Brinson on New Year's Eve in 2011, and editors at the New York Post's gossip column Page Six report the couple will tie the knot in San Diego on Saturday (14Sep13).
The wedding celebrations will reportedly last three days, kicking off with a welcome barbecue on Friday evening (13Sep13), followed by the nuptials on Saturday and a farewell brunch on Sunday (15Sep13).
French rockers Phoenix have pulled out of a planned performance at London's iTunes Festival on Saturday (07Sep13) after frontman Thomas Mars fell ill. The 1901 hitmakers were due to follow in the footsteps of fellow festival acts Lady Gaga, Sigur Ros and Paramore and headline the city's Roundhouse venue this weekend, but illness has forced the band to cancel on the eve of the gig.
A message posted on Phoenix's Twitter.com page on Friday (06Sep13) reads: "Unfortunately Thomas won't be able to sing as he is ill & cannot travel. We are very sorry that our @itunesfestival show on 9/7 is cancelled".
Glee star Jane Lynch feared she would have to unveil her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this week (begs02Sep13) with a huge bandage on her nose after injuring herself on the eve of her big reveal. The actress was joined by friends and family members as she was feted with the 2,505th star on the famous sidewalk on Wednesday (04Sep13), but she admits she suffered a panic the night before after receiving a bloody blow to her nose.
During a late night interview with U.S. talk show host Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday (05Sep13), she said, "The night before (the ceremony), I opened the car door right onto my nose and it bled profusely and it was very, very painful and it was swollen, and by the time I woke up in the morning it was all right."
She managed to cover up the cut with make-up for the Walk of Fame induction ceremony, but the injury is still causing her pain.
She adds, "It still hurts. It's like, three days later."
Rapper Jay Z's Made in America Festival documentary has been acquired by U.S. network Showtime. The film, directed by Ron Howard, will debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada on 7 September (13), and air on Showtime in America on 11 October (13).
A statement from Showtime’s entertainment president David Nevins, reads, "Ron Howard and Jay Z have crafted an inspirational portrayal of American resilience, drive and creativity, interwoven with an incredible showcase of musical talent."
The film follows the creation of the rapper's new two-day musical festival, which he launched last year (12) with performances from the likes of Jay Z, Pearl Jam, Kanye West, Janelle Monae, Run D.M.C., Jill Scott and Eve.
The second annual Made in America Festival will be held this weekend (31Aug-01Sep13) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The line-up will feature Beyonce and Nine Inch Nails.
Veteran British actor Steven Berkoff has been convicted of careless driving after knocking over a woman in central London. The Rambo star was accused of overtaking a car on Oxford Street on New Year's Eve (31Dec12) and hitting pedestrian Fiona Scully.
Scully was left needing to use a walking stick for a week due to her injuries.
Berkoff was found guilty at City of London Magistrates Court on Tuesday (27Aug13) and was fined $525 (£350) for driving without due care and attention. He was also fined $75 (£50) for driving without a valid licence and ordered to pay $375 (£250) costs and a $52 (£35) victim surcharge.
The Pet Shop Boys will play their only U.K. show of the year on the last night of 2013 when they headline Edinburgh's Hogmanay festivities in Scotland on New Year's Eve (31Dec13). The duo was scheduled to perform at the event on the last night of 2006 but heavy rain and strong winds forced organisers to scrap the show.
Singer Neil Tennant says, "We are delighted to bring this show to Scotland on New Year's Eve. We've always felt we've had some unfinished Hogmanay business in Edinburgh after the weather put a stop to the planned 2006 show and this is going to be a fantastic way to see in the New Year."
Cult indie duo Matt & Kim have stripped off to portray Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden on the cover of their new album Lightning Remixes. The couple bares all in the provocative photo and their genitals are hidden from view by carefully-placed leaves, but Kim Schifino's breasts are exposed.
The album, which is released on 1 October (13), comes with a reusable sticker to paste over Kim Schifino's cleavage.