Passport

New service for celebrities who can’t read good and wanna learn not to hang out with dictators

The New York Times’ Media Decoder blog reports on a valuable new service for celebrities looking to avoid rubbing shoulders with the world’s most despotic regimes:   Global Philanthropy Group, a celebrity-focused advisory firm, and Human Rights Watch on Thursday announced a free, confidential service to help stars and their handlers verify the records of ...

STR/AFP/Getty Images
STR/AFP/Getty Images

The New York Times’ Media Decoder blog reports on a valuable new service for celebrities looking to avoid rubbing shoulders with the world’s most despotic regimes:  

Global Philanthropy Group, a celebrity-focused advisory firm, and Human Rights Watch on Thursday announced a free, confidential service to help stars and their handlers verify the records of people who want to hire them to appear at birthday parties and other private events.

It’s a response to an online brushfire that broke out last week involving Ms. Swank, a two-time Oscar winner. She accepted a reported six-figure payment to travel to Chechnya to attend a lavish ceremony that turned out to be a birthday party for Ramzan A. Kadyrov, the Chechen president whose rule, international critics say, has been marked by abductions and torture. After suffering public criticism, Ms. Swank apologized and said she would donate her fee to charity.

These kinds of “oops-I-didn’t-know” moments have been happening with greater frequency as top stars, looking for ways to make up for diminishing studio paychecks, have become more comfortable making paid appearances. In March, Beyoncé said she donated to Haiti relief efforts the money she received to perform at a New Year’s Eve party thrown by the son of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

As Alyssa Rosenberg notes, it’s not quite clear what this service will provide that a simple Google search couldn’t. Generally speaking, I would think it’s a good idea to at least read the Wikipedia page of the guy who wants to fly you across the world to perform at his birthday, but I don’t really know how things work for celebrities.

Mariah Carey, Usher, Jay-Z, and Lionel Ritchie have also all performed for the Qaddafi family. Jean-Claude Van Damme* was also at that dinner in Chechnya and has been quoted as saying, "I love you, Mr. Kadyrov."

Correction: Post originally said Steven Seagal. Please don’t roundhouse kick me. 

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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