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Odd celebrity contract demands – You need what in your dressing room?

Posted by mandyf on September 2, 2011

Celebrity contracts are the same structurally as any other contract. They contain an outline of services to be performed and compensation for those services which sounds pretty cut and dry. Then there are the riders. Riders are present in contracts all the time and are usually fairly reasonable. A rider might dictate a performer has some fresh flowers in their dressing room, a certain brand of bottled water, or any number of little things.

Then there are the riders that are a bit more outrageous. Sometimes they are so over the top people assume they have to be urban legends. At other times they are just bizarre insofar as they seem to make absolutely no sense other than to be a total pain in the butt and provide the performer with an excuse to behave badly should they be ignored.  Sometimes the requests are even sweet in a way.

Coldplay photo by Wonker Wonker

Coldplay is an example of a band that has sweet and weird requests. Their contract includes normal things like snacks and a specific brand of vodka, but also a demand for cotton socks. Seriously, what do they need cotton socks for? They don’t have time to do laundry on the road and like fresh socks waiting after a show – some ask for underwear too.  Their request for pre-stamped local postcards makes perfect sense – they send them home to their families each show.

Child actor turned pervert idiot, Dustin Diamond, who is always going to be known as “Screech” from saved By the Bell” demands in his contract no one call him Screech, refer to the character, or even the show. Each time it happens his contract states he is due $100.  As one agent said, it cannot actually be enforced, and Diamond is so out of demand he’d be crazy to risk enforcing it if anyone was actually willing to give him some pity work.

John Mayer requests soy milk and soft head toothbrushes. Beyond that his contract stipulates Listerine, Tom’s Toothpaste, and Altoids – just in case there is anyone left that wants to kiss him, or perhaps keeping something in his mouth prevents him from saying stupid things.

Lil’ Wayne who has had plenty of problems with the police for gun and drug problems actually insists he has 4 off duty police officers present at each show to serve as his security while in transit – and has walked out on a show when the clause was not satisfied.

Ms. Lopez likes things her way

Jennifer Lopez is a nut or a diva – pick whichever word works for you. Her contract demands that her dressing room have white flowers, white curtains, white furniture, and a full spread of Cuban food no matter how long she will be on set. One person that had to satisfy this clause to get her to perform on the African AIDS charity video said she wouldn’t even touch the food. A former employee of hers cited in another source Lopez never eats the food – and doesn’t allow anyone else to either. She just likes the smell of it. That may be true or just a disgruntled rumor, but considering her reputation it is at least plausible.

Mary J. Blige is a noted germaphobe and has only one contract request that is a bit odd – wherever she is, any toilet that is within an area she is going to be must have a new toilet seat installed and no one else may use it prior to her.

Sir Paul McCartney takes the vegan thing a little too far. He won’t ride in limos with leather seats, he won’t allow Is that Sir Paul? No, but he's a lot like that guy any leather furniture in his dressing room or a set he is going to appear on. He further demands a spread of vegan meals and for some reason, 24 bars of Ivory soap. Why 24? No one knows, and it is doubtful anyone has had the stones to inform Sir Paul that when he scrubs up with Ivory soap he’s slathering on a little bit of animal fat.

Sarah Palin’s contract has a rider for “bendy” straws for her water, transport by Learjet only, and ground transportation must be either a black town car or SUV.

If you're Van Halen, you now have carte blanche to trash the place

The most famous rider of all however may very well be the one that was standard in all of Van Halen’s deals on their 1982 world tour – the brown M&M clause. The rider stated that the band was to have a bowl of M&M’s in the dressing room that had all the brown M&M’s removed from it. Now, if they found a brown M&M they would perform – they weren’t going to punish the fans. They would instead punish the promoter by trashing everything in their path – dressing rooms, hotel rooms – anything.

Van Halen at least had a reason for the rider that had nothing to do with ego. Their reason for the rider was to see if a promoter paid attention. Their rationale was that if a promoter didn’t care enough to read the contract in full or thought they could skimp on the things they deemed to be minor – they might skimp on big things as well like amps, security, microphones, lighting, or anything associated to how they performed on stage.

Then there are loads of other oddities like:

* Prince insisting his dressing room be fully wrapped in plastic
* Ben Kweller’s request for live fishing bait
* Ruben Studdard’s large bucket of KFC along with a bottle of Moet and 12 Miller Longnecks
* Sinead O’Conner demands 12 8×10 glossies of the reigning Pontiff
* Ice Cube – A pork free environment, Big Red gum, and Doritos
* Barbara Streisand – metal detectors at all doors and a full facility sweep by a police K-9 unit
* Rihanna – Cheese Doodles and two Trish McEvoy candles
* Shania Twain – 10 lbs. of carrots
* Joan Rivers –  All rooms must be 65 degrees or lower – maybe so she doesn’t melt?
* Britney Spears – Red Altoids, Froot Loops, Pop Tarts, Cap’n Crunch, and Doritos

Some celebrities are a little crazy with their demands, others just want to make sure they get in and out in one piece. Either way, riders are a part of life on the road and they sure can give you an idea of the person behind the performance.


The Smoking Gun

ABC News


4 Responses to “Odd celebrity contract demands – You need what in your dressing room?”

  1. There was a story done on contract riders and it was said by a road manager that often unusual requests will be buried in a rider to make sure that the promoter has read through the contract and delivered on the agreement. If they can get the small contract details right, then they probably came through on larger issues like adequate promotion, sound system, security detail, etc. If you insist on having a certain food in your dressing room and it’s there, then the promoter has probably fulfilled more important aspects as well.

  2. mandyf said

    That’s what David Lee Roth said the M&M rider was really about. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Oops! I’m sorry I missed that detail in your article. My mistake!

  4. mandyf said

    No problem, I know that same reason showed up with someone else that I saw awhile back on a Behind the Music thing on VH1. I want to say it was Shakira, but I’m not positive.

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