A few weeks ago, you may remember Danger Guerrero bringing you the story about Hilary Swank (along with Jean-Claude Van Damme) getting paid a fee rumored to be in the six figures to attend a birthday party for autocratic Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov (pictured, left), a dude who Human Rights Watch has said presides over a regime responsible for kidnappings, torture, and executions. At the party, Jean Claude was filmed on stage telling Kadyrov “I love you,” and Swank wished him a happy birthday. (No word on whether she worked in any references to her movies, but I think it’d be neat if she’d said “Birthday boys don’t cry, you look like a million dollars, baby!”).
The party also included performances by Seal and a famous British violinist, fireworks, acrobats, a floating stage on the river Sunzha in Grozny, and portraits of Kadyrov displayed throughout the city, leaving little doubt that this dude parties way harder than Kirk Cameron, who celebrated his birthday with extra mayo. Now, in the fallout from all the anti-murder-and-kidnapping shrivs blowing up her spot, Swank has offered to donate her appearance fee to charity and fired her manager.
The Independent on Sunday understands that Jason Weinberg, Swank’s friend and manager of eight years, was unceremoniously fired last week. Amie Yavor and Josh Lieberman, two of Swank’s representatives at Hollywood’s most powerful talent agency, CAA, and the people who made the Chechen booking, also face being moved off her team.
Can one be ceremoniously fired? That’d be something I’d like to see. I hope it would involve tearing a fancy seal off someone’s jacket in front of everyone. I’m also curious as to how many members there are of “Team Swank,” and what they do all day.
YouTube footage of the celebration showed her offering warm applause for the Moscow-backed warlord, who is widely accused of torturing dissidents, killing political opponents, and encouraging citizens to abuse women who dress immodestly.
At one point, Swank strode to the microphone and announced how much she had enjoyed visiting the totalitarian state. “I could feel the spirit of the people, and I could see that everyone was so happy,” she said. “Happy birthday, Mr President!”
When you’re JFK you get Marilyn Monroe. In the former Eastern bloc, you’re lucky to have the chick who won an Oscar for playing a transgender. “And now here’s a birthday medley from Sinbad and Vanna White!”
Mr. Weinberg’s role in the saga was particularly unfortunate. Just before the event, the talent manager – whose clients include Madonna, Demi Moore and Lindsay Lohan – wrote an email to the New York-based Human Rights Foundation saying Swank had “no current plans to attend”. That was clearly untrue. But a source close to the controversy denied a deliberate effort to mislead. “Jason was never properly told about the Grozny event,” the source said. “He’s the fall guy in all this.”
These slavs probably bought Turtle some new kicks, and the next thing you know he was going behind Ari’s back. Trust me, I know how this Hollywood stuff works.
Swank has expressed remorse. The same is not true of Van Damme or Mae – or Seal, who used Twitter to bizarrely lambast critics: “You sit there under the umbrella of democracy and never once stop to think how it keeps you dry!” he said. [TheIndependent]
Ooh, nice one, Seal. I don’t know what that means, but I suppose making a point of some kind is hardly relevant when you’ve got such a vivid metaphor. “You sit there under the umbrella of democracy and never once stop to think how it keeps you dry! Me, I know what it is to be wet! I am a Seal!”
No word on whether Van Damme plans to make amends, or respond to the controversy, but I think it’d be nice if he called a big press conference, and then just came onstage and did the splits for some reason.