Donald Trump’s Inauguration may be devoid of the normal celebrity speeches, appearances and performances, and Trump’s team is desperate. They’re reportedly offering government appointments and cash rewards for anyone who can book a big name for the DC bash.
According to TheWrap, celebrities aren’t jumping at the chance to perform for Trump’s swearing in, or the balls, parade or National Mall concert that typically accompany the signature inaugural event. In the past, celebrities, including Beyonce, have volunteered for the slots, calling an Inaugural performance a “patriotic duty.”
But this year, too many actors, artists and musicians are struggling to come to terms with the Republican President-elect. And it’s making it hard to fill slots for the typically star-studded occasion.
“They are willing to pay anything,” one of the Inaugural insiders told TheWrap. “They told me, ‘We’ll pay their fees.’ Most of these artists’ fees are in the six to seven figures.” And yet artists wouldn’t agree.
The Trump team, led by casino billionaire Steve Wynn, insists that they aren’t offering a pay-to-play to top talent, that three mega-acts are already booked, and that they “are focused on organizing an exciting and uniting celebration of freedom and democracy while following all rules, regulations and appropriate standards of conduct.”
Industry insiders, and DC politicos, doubt that Trump has managed to land a major celebrity just yet. Ahead of the Republican National Convention, Team Trump claimed to have plenty of A-list acts for the crowd, but wound up booking only a few high-profile country singers and what’s left of the ’80s band Journey.
He promised the biggest and the best entertainers,” an insider said. “He got Chachi and Antonio Sabato, Jr.”
Just weeks ago, a Trump adviser told the BBC that Elton John was slated to perform at the Inaugural ball, but he insists he was never asked—and would turn down the invitation. Garth Brooks says he’d be open to performing for the President-elect, but hasn’t been offered the gig.
And while there’s always the possibility of snagging Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, Azealia Banks, Clint Eastwood’s empty chair, Mike Tyson, Scott Baio and Sabato, Jr., Team Trump says that it would prefer to book acts that have name recognition among people born in the 21st century.
Making things more difficult, some celebrities have called for a boycott of any artist, actor or musician who donates their time to honor Trump. Even People magazine is feeling the ire of the A-list after putting Trump on their cover after the election. Potential inaugural acts are worried about the long-term career ramifications of simply playing a hit song on the White House lawn, on or around January 20.
The Trump inauguration will cost between $65 million and $75 million, only part of which will be paid by taxpayers.