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.
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The Basic Instinct star was at a runway show for fashion house Fendi on Friday (21Sep12) when she fell ill and was taken to hospital to undergo tests.
However, she bounced back to full health in time for a special AIDS research gala in the city on Saturday (22Sep12), which she attended as a guest of honour.
Addressing the health scare to reporters on the red carpet, she said, "I feel fine and I'm good and I've got a clean bill of health and I'm happy to be here."
A representative for The American Foundation for AIDS Research added, "She was examined and given a clean bill of health. And as she said, wild horses couldn't keep her away."
The hospitalisation comes more than a decade after Stone suffered a brain aneurysm in 2001.
Casino Royale starts at the beginning as James Bond (Craig) takes his first baby steps as a Double O agent. His first assignment is to track down a terrorist cell in Madagascar but he’s a bit of a loose cannon and things quickly go awry. Bond’s superior M (Judi Dench) is soon regretting giving the arrogant Bond the promotion. Nonetheless Agent 007 takes it upon himself to follow a lead to the Bahamas and discovers that all nefarious dealings point to Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) a nasty fellow who has money ties to terrorist organizations. Le Chiffre is planning to raise money in a high-stakes poker game at the Le Casino Royale in Montenegro—and Bond gets in to beat him at his own game. Along with a hefty bankroll M also sends the beguiling accountant Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) to keep Bond in check. They are skeptical of each other at first but as the danger escalates it becomes apparent there is a growing attraction—and affection—between them. Natch. Can these two crazy kids make it work immersed in the cutthroat world of international intrigue? Well this is Bond after all—and we know how he ends up. Craig absolutely gets it. Whatever doubts people may have had when Craig was first announced as the new Bond are washed away in the first few minutes of the film. Sure if Casino Royale was anything like the last few Bond movies then maybe the understated Craig wouldn’t have fit in as well. But this is a different Bond. The British actor plays him not as the icon we’ve come to know but as a flawed man warts and all who flies by the seat of his pants isn’t necessarily refined and yes can even fall in love. Craig also raises the acting bar. His brief scenes with the impeccable Dench for example simmer and pop unlike anything we’ve seen before in a Bond film. Danish film star Mikkelsen (Pusher) is quite effective as the main baddie with a particularly gruesome physical malady while the always good Jeffrey Wright (Syriana) shows up as CIA Agent Felix Leiter. The one weak link unfortunately is Green (The Dreamers). She certainly looks the part of a “Bond girl ” but her Vesper is supposed to be whip-smart able to engage in witty banter with 007 and the French actress can’t quite pull it off. Craig needs more of a challenge. Too bad Judi Dench isn’t 30 years younger; she would have been perfect. Casino Royale the first book in the Ian Fleming series is basic Bond 101. Director Martin Campbell--who helmed Goldeneye Pierce Brosnan’s first and probably best foray into the franchise--strips it of all the far-fetched gadgets (save for a few new-fangled PDAs) and over-the-top action sequences leaving just good clean action devoid of any invisible cars armored Russian tanks and the such. Oh wait Bond does use a bulldozer at one point but that comes briefly in the middle of a rather extensive and hair-raising foot chase. It just proves action can be just as riveting without having to completely suspend your disbelief. Casino Royale is also rare in that it shows how Bond became THE James Bond the one we’ve seen in countless movies over the years in the stylish tuxes drinking the martinis driving the Aston-Martins and bedding all the beautiful women. Casino Royale breathes new life into the franchise and one can only hope they can keep up the good work without once again lapsing into the ridiculous.