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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 30, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 53
Celebrities shun Trump inaugural

Elton John, Celine Dion, Garth Brooks all decline invitations to perform
Section One
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Celebrities shun Trump inaugural

Elton John, Celine Dion, Garth Brooks all decline invitations to perform

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Donald Trump may have to rely on the talents of a 2010 America's Got Talent runner-up to grace his inaugural festivities, because all the name performers his team has contacted have refused to appear.

Celine Dion is the latest star to turn down the Trump team. TheWrap, an entertainment industry website, reported on December 21 that the singer declined an invitation to perform at a Trump inaugural ball.

According to the report, Dion was picked to perform by Mark Burnett, producer of Celebrity Apprentice and the planner of the Trump festivities. Burnett reportedly enlisted Trump's friend and fellow Las Vegas hotel owner Steve Wynn to deliver Dion.

Wynn promised to do so but failed, TheWrap said. Dion flat out refused to appear.

A spokesperson for Wynn denied the claims, however.

'Mr. Wynn was not asked to book specific performers for the inauguration, nor did he ever make a commitment to find specific performers,' the spokesperson said.

Another source, identified only as 'a Hollywood insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity,' told TheWrap that Wynn had also tried to book country star Garth Brooks for the January 20 inaugural events but failed with him as well.

The Trump team is reportedly so desperate to book A-list talent that they are willing to pay performers to appear.

'They are willing to pay anything,' a source told TheWrap. 'They told me, 'We'll pay their fees.' Most of these artists' fees are in the six to seven figures.'

The source said the Trump negotiator also offered to pay him for delivering top talent, saying, 'Name your price.'

'I couldn't do it,' the insider said. 'Not even for a billion dollars.'

Another unnamed source, identified as 'a veteran inaugural organizer,' told TheWrap that 'it is unusual to pay artists for the inauguration, considered a high-profile, high-prestige, patriotic gig.'

'I've never heard of talent being compensated,' the source said. 'Nor have I heard of talent recruiters being compensated.'

The Trump team denied they were trying to buy performers for the inauguration.

'No one with any official position at, or official relationship with, the Presidential Inaugural Committee, is engaging in the conduct described,' said Boris Epshteyn, spokesman for Trump's Presidential Inaugural Committee.

'We are focused on organizing an exciting and uniting celebration of freedom and democracy while following all rules, regulations, and appropriate standards of conduct.'?

In November, Anthony Scaramucci, a spokesperson for Trump's presidential transition team, told BBC News that Elton John would perform at the festivities, but John issued a strong denial.

John's publicist, Fran Curtis, said flatly 'Incorrect. He will NOT be performing.'

To date, the only person confirmed to perform at the Trump inauguration is Jackie Evancho, the second-place finisher in the 2010 season of America's Got Talent. She is set to sing the national anthem before Trump takes the oath of office.

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