Janet, Chris Brown, 50 Cent to perform at Saudi concert
NEW YORK — Janet Jackson, Chris Brown, 50 Cent, Future and Tyga have been added to the lineup for the Jeddah World Fest, the concert in Saudi Arabia that Nicki Minaj pulled out of because of human rights concerns.
The website for the event, to take place Thursday at the King Abdullah Sports Stadium, posted photos of the newly added acts alongside previously announced performers Liam Payne and Steve Aoki.
The Human Rights Foundation and other organizations have asked artists not to perform in Saudi Arabia, where gender segregation between single men and women is enforced in many restaurants, coffee shops, public schools and universities. Other rules have loosened in the kingdom with women now allowed to drive and attend events at sports stadiums.
Representatives for Jackson, Brown, 50 Cent, Future and Tyga didn’t immediately reply to emails seeking comment.
Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, criticized the entertainers in a statement Thursday to The Associated Press, saying it was “profoundly distressing that they have chosen money over morals.”
He added: “These individuals constantly make public statements of support for LGBT rights and women’s rights, except, apparently, when a seven-figure check is attached. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. Principal apparently matters to them far more than principles.”
Minaj said she pulled out of the concert because she wants to show support for women’s rights, gay rights and freedom of expression. Human rights organizations praised the rapper for her decision.
Saudi Arabia saw profound change last year as a result of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s top-down reform efforts, including the opening of the first movie theater and the lifting of the world’s only ban on women driving. But there’s a hard limit to the reforms — as revealed by the brutal killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents close to the crown prince in October and the reported torture of several women’s rights activists in detention. While the arena for entertainment is widening, the space for political engagement and dissent has virtually disappeared.
“It’s clear that, after losing Nicki Minaj on the basis of the Saudi regime’s atrocious human rights record and their treatment of women and the gay community, the Crown Prince has chosen to spend whatever it takes to give the appearance that things are normal and that this is just another music concert. Except it isn’t,” Halvorssen’s statement read. “It’s a blatant public relations push on the heels of the pre-meditated assassination of a Washington Post columnist and the ongoing imprisonment of dozens of human rights activists. Saudi is engaged in a sophisticated campaign of distraction.”
Over the past several months, the kingdom has seen performances by Mariah Carey, Enrique Iglesias, the Black Eyed Peas, Sean Paul, David Guetta and Tiesto. That’s a stark change from when Saudi morality police would raid establishments that played loud music.
Jennifer Lopez shines in first look at ‘Hustlers’
The first trailer for the money- and star-studded flick “Hustlers” dropped at midnight Wednesday — and Constance Wu, not Jennifer Lopez, appears to be the main chick.
“I just want to take care of my grandma,” the “Crazy Rich Asians” star says in the clip. “Maybe go shopping every once in awhile.”
Second-billed J.Lo’s struggles as a more seasoned stripper appear to take side stage to Wu’s headlining immigrant struggles in the film. The trailer opens with the pop diva-dancer showing the “Fresh Off the Boat” star the ropes of pole-dancing.
Also billed are “Juice” singer Lizzo, Keke Palmer (“Scream Queens”), and Lili Reinhart (“Riverdale”), all of whom make brief trailer appearances. Hip-hop superstar Cardi B is also making her big-screen debut, and her track “Money” plays throughout it.
The film is inspired by a New York Magazine article called “The Hustlers at Scores,” about strippers who stole from Wall Street bankers for their own gain. It’s based on a true story — maybe too true, as one strip club scammer is claiming J.Lo stole her life story for the flick.
‘The Rock’ saves day at ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ premiere
“The Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” recent premiere featured just as much sparks as the actual movie according to witnesses at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.
There were sparks reported in the auditorium close to stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham, causing a bit of chaos.
The Rock was called a “real-life hero” by Fox News and then Vanity Fair says he “saved the day.”
The film was stopped as the sparks flew and the audience began to leave. The showing was continued after fire officials inspected and cleared the site.
The Rock took the mic and reassured viewers that the area was safe and they could return to the auditorium.
Lin-Manuel Miranda joins rally against Puerto Rico governor
NEW YORK — “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has joined protests in New York demanding the resignation of Puerto Rico’s governor.
Miranda led about 200 people, many from Puerto Rico, at a rally in Manhattan’s Union Square on Wednesday. They waved Puerto Rican flags and followed him to a drumbeat, chanting in Spanish, “Viva Puerto Rico libre,” which translates to “Long live free Puerto Rico.”
A leaked series of chat messages has compounded outrage over corruption. The messages show the governor and key aides mocking women, the disabled and Hurricane Maria victims.
Miranda said the alleged corruption surrounding the governor of the U.S. territory “is the last straw and Puerto Ricans are standing up against it.”
Puerto Rico has been mired in crises, still struggling with debt and the aftermath of the 2017 hurricane that collapsed the country’s electrical system and left thousands dead.
—Compiled from Tribune News Services