I don’t even know what to say about this.
That doesn’t mean I won’t give it a shot.
They say this is how it’s done, and that may be so. That doesn’t make this any less unnerving.
So the scramble is on to find top talent to play President-elect Trump’s inaugural event. I’m sure Ted Nugent and Kid Rock are willing to play, but it would seem the Trump team were hoping for a little more. So much so that sources are saying they’ve offered at least two booking agents ambassadorships, if they could come through with some top names to perform.
The bookers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they were approached by members of Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee in recent weeks with offers of cash or even plush diplomatic posts in exchange for locking in singers.
The first insider said he was “shocked” at the proposal: “Never in a million years have I heard something so crazy,” he said. “That was the moment I almost dropped the phone.”
On Tuesday, Kanye West met with Trump at his New York office, but if West agreed to perform, they’re definitely keeping it under wraps.
On Wednesday, the Trump team announced that they’d managed to snag a 16-year old former “America’s Got Talent” star, Jackie Evancho.
Yeah. I don’t know who that is, either.
In a statement to TheWrap, Trump’s team denied offering any ambassadorships. “There is no truth to this insinuation,” said committee spokesman Boris Epshteyn. “First-class entertainers are eager to participate in the inaugural events. The inauguration as a whole will be an exciting and uniting celebration of freedom and democracy. We will be releasing further details at the appropriate time.”
But according to the insider, there was no ambiguity about the ambassadorship offer. “My first thought was, ‘Are you joking?’” he said. “But no, it was serious.”
The insider, who has secured talent with the star power Trump’s team is seeking for past inaugurations, said he “didn’t like what was going on” and politely declined the offer. The conversation lasted only a few minutes, so no additional specifics were discussed, he said.
A second insider said he was offered a government post, including an ambassadorship, if he could wrangle a top artist. The insider, a talent manager, said he knew at least two other people who have been offered similar deals, but who did not wish to speak to the news media.
Asked how the subject of a possible ambassadorship came up, the second recruiter said he was offered “access to the administration.”
I know donors are often offered these positions.
During President Obama’s second term about 40 percent of his ambassador nominations were for loyalists who campaigned, donated, or otherwise served to further his career goals.
Offering such positions to talent agents, in return for getting Katy Perry to play your inauguration, however, is a bit outside of the norm.
One veteran inaugural organizer told TheWrap it is unusual to compensate talent and recruiters for an inauguration performance, which is usually considered a high-profile, high-prestige, patriotic gig. And the Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan group that advocates for open government and accountability, called the idea “alarming.”
“It’s bad policy to offer ambassadorships to unqualified, inexperienced individuals, no matter who is president,” spokeswoman Jenn Topper said. “The public deserves an opportunity to vet the people who will be at the forefront of our diplomatic relations, and this alleged backroom dealing is alarming.”
Some of the trouble Trump may be having with lining up guests could be due to the nasty climate that has dogged this entire election season.
Most artists tend to have a leftward slant to their politics, and Trump is probably one of the most intensely disliked, polarizing political figures to emerge in many years. Even though the event is seen as high-profile and patriotic, some of the protests that would surely emerge might make many artists leery of signing on.
We are living in very different days, now.