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7 Pampered Celebrities and their Ridiculous Pre-show Demands

Everyone knows rock and roll is about thrills and excess—we just didn't realize that spirit was supposed to extend to the greenroom buffet. The following are seven very pampered acts that made sure their laundry list of demands got tacked onto their contracts.

1. Van Halen and the Whole M&M's Thing

Van Halen first gained notoriety for their stipulation that, at every gig, their dressing room was to contain a large bowl of M&M's, but with all the brown ones removed. And while this has often been cited as proof of the band members' towering egos, it was actually included by tour promoters as an easy way of seeing if the concert venues had read the contract thoroughly (particularly the parts about technical requirements). But sneaky M&M tactics aside, Van Halen's riders are also notorious for the sheer volume of alcohol they stipulate. One rider specified that their dressing room was to contain a case of beer, a pint of Jack Daniel's, a pint of Absolut, a 750 ml bottle of Bacardi Añejo rum, three bottles of wine, small bottles of Cointreau and Grand Marnier, and a 750 ml bottle of one of five specific premium tequilas. Don't forget six limes, margarita salt, shot glasses, ingredients for Bloody Marys, and a blender. Sure, there are only four dudes in the band, but shouldn't you expect this sort of behavior from a group whose bassist plays a guitar shaped like a bottle of Jack?

2. J-Lo's Trailer from the Park

200px-Jennifer_Lopez_-_This_Is_Me_Then_-_CD_album_cover.jpgThere are divas, there are superdivas, and then there's Jennifer Lopez. That's right, the same sultry soulstress who preaches the "keep it real" street mantra also happens to require a trailer at least 40 feet in length, in which everything is white. That means drapes, couches, candles, tablecloths, lilies, and roses (she also requires yellow roses with red trim thrown in as well). And if you're hoping to keep a prolonged smile on "Jenny from the Block's" pretty mug, you can't forget the selection of current CDs she requires, chosen from a list of 43 artists, or her three favorite scented candles from Diptyque—Tuberose, Figuier, and Heliotrope. And that's just from her contract for a charity song benefiting AIDS victims in Africa! Oh, and did we mention Jenny was only at the event for a total of 90 minutes? It's almost as if her ego's as big as her . . . nope, too easy.

3. Guns N' (Long-Stemmed) Roses

Cher's wig room, Weird Al's weird water demand and the star who needs 24-pieces of chicken and a pack of condoms before every show, all after the break.

images-12.jpg They were one of the biggest bands of the 1980s and '90s. Just ask them. And in a band of big egos, the very biggest was lead singer Axl Rose. He had his own dressing room, stocked with plenty of the things a vocal professional needs: hot water and honey (Sue Bee brand only); a rib-eye steak dinner; a large pepperoni pizza; a deli tray with a heavy emphasis on lean roast beef, ham, and turkey; and a bottle of Dom Perignon. His bandmates had much simpler tastes. Their dressing room was to contain lots of chips, nuts, exotic fruits, and cheese. Of course, they went a little less simple on the drinks. Aside from a few cases of soda, the band also required four cases of beer, two fifths of Jack Daniel's, two fifths of Stolichnaya vodka, two bottles of Chardonnay, and a bottle of Jägermeister. Oh, and don't forget to throw in a couple bottles of . . . carrot juice? Clearly, it's the cornerstone behind every successful rock act. As are the four cartons of cigarettes and the assortment of adult magazines you'll need to provide.

4. Meat Loaf (Just a Little Overdone)

Yes, that Meat Loaf. The man who brought us Bat Out of Hell obviously requires quite a bit in return. His rider states that the promoters are to recognize that they are dealing with an international "superstar" and therefore all provisions must be first class, as befits a "superstar." And that's two words: Meat. Loaf. Sheesh! His dressing room spread must include, among many other things, a loaf of 100% multigrain bread (preferably Vogel's Flaxseed & Soy), two bags of potato chips, a package of low-fat chicken or turkey wieners, four Gala apples (specifically, hard and crunchy ones), four low-fat fresh-baked muffins from a bakery, steamed broccoli and green beans amandine (not too soggy), a sliced roast pork tenderloin, a sliced roast beef tenderloin, and two baked potatoes. And this is supposed to feed two people. We're guessing they're both for the Loaf.

5. Poison's Poison

Pretty standard for a rock band, really. Deli trays, condiments, lots of booze, etc. But what
was Poison's poison? Apparently, pyrotechnics. Their contract also required that all the venue's smoke and fire detectors be switched off due to the band's flair for flares. So how do we think the concertgoers would feel knowing that little tidbit? Also very odd, Poison's rider stipulates that an American Sign Language interpreter must be made available on request for the band's deaf fans. And the band will need 24 hours' notice if the ASL interpreter needs the lyrics beforehand. Of course, some critics claim that most of the band's fan base was deaf (records sold being proof).

6. The Village People's Payment Plan

Village-People-YMCA-23090.jpgYou might think that a bunch of guys as past their prime as The Village People would just be glad to get a gig. Nope. They still draw a crowd, so therefore they still have demands in their rider. The front page of their rider contains one stipulation: that all balances to The Village People be paid in "CASH" (yes, it's in all caps). It goes on to say that they can only be photographed in costume, that they won't fly in prop planes, and that they prefer certain seats in the plane (as specific as "aisle, rear right side of plane" for the Navy guy) and certain airports of origin. Disco may be dead, but ego certainly seems to be staying alive.

7. Various Spoiled Artists

040503_KFC-bucket.jpgOh, there are just so many. Celine Dion requires a children's choir with 20 to 24 children of all races. Pavarotti used to demand that there be no noise backstage or distinct smells anywhere near him; but he did want a golf cart. Cher can't perform without a wig room, cable TV that gets Turner Classic Movies, and a room for her massage therapist. "Weird Al" Yankovic is a strict vegan and forbids Dasani water. Elton John demands that his dressing room be kept at 60° in summer and 70° in winter. And Busta Rhymes insists that there be no pork or beef anywhere near his dressing room; but he does want a 24-piece bucket of KFC and a box of Rough Riders condoms (ribbed).

Ed. Note: This list was pulled from Forbidden Knowledge.


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13 Great Facts About Bad Lieutenant
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Bad Lieutenant can be accused of many things, but one charge you can't level against it is false advertising. Harvey Keitel's title character, whose name is never given, is indeed a bad, bad lieutenant: corrupt, sleazy, drug-addled, irresponsible, and lascivious, all while he's on the job. (Imagine what his weekends must be like!)

Abel Ferrara's nightmarish character study was controversial when it was released 25 years ago today, and rated NC-17 for its graphic nudity (including a famous glimpse at Lil’ Harvey), unsettling sexual violence, and frank depiction of drug use. The film packs a wallop, no doubt. Here's some behind-the-scenes info to help you cope with it.

1. THE PLACID WOMAN WHO HELPS THE LIEUTENANT FREEBASE HEROIN WROTE THE MOVIE.

That's Zoë Tamerlis Lund, who starred in Abel Ferrara's revenge-exploitation thriller Ms. 45 (1981) more than a decade earlier, when she was 17 years old. She and Ferrara are credited together for writing Bad Lieutenant, though she always insisted that wasn't the case. "I wrote this alone," she said. "Abel is a wonderful director, but he's not a screenwriter. She said elsewhere that she "wrote every word of that screenplay," though everyone agrees the finished movie included a lot of improvisation. Lund was a fascinating, tragic character herself—a musical prodigy who became an enthusiastic and unapologetic user of heroin before switching to cocaine in the mid-1990s. She died of heart failure in 1999 at age 37.

2. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN WAS SUPPOSED TO STAR IN IT.

Christopher Walken had starred in Ferrara's previous film, King of New York (1990), and was set to play the lead in Bad Lieutenant before pulling out at almost the last minute. Ferrara was shocked. "[Walken] says, 'You know, I don't think I'm right for it.' Which is, you know, a fine thing to say, unless it's three weeks from when you're supposed to start shooting," Ferrara said. "It definitely caught me by surprise. It put me in terminal shock, actually." Harvey Keitel replaced him (though not without difficulty; see below), and the film's editor, Anthony Redman, thought Keitel was a better choice anyway. "Chris is too elegant for the part," he said. "Harvey is not elegant." 

3. HARVEY KEITEL'S INITIAL REACTION TO THE SCRIPT WAS NOT PROMISING.

"When we gave [Keitel] the script the first time, he read about five pages and threw it in the garbage," Ferrara said. Keitel's recollection was a little more diplomatic. As he told Roger Ebert, "I read a certain amount of pages and I put it down. I said, 'There's no way I'm gonna make this movie.' And then I asked myself, 'How often am I a lead in a movie? Read it, maybe I can salvage something from it …' When I read the part about the nun, I understood why Abel wanted to make it."

4. IT WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY.


Lionsgate Home Entertainment

"It was always, in my mind, a comedy," Ferrara said. He cited the scene where the Lieutenant pulls the teenage girls over as a specific example of how Christopher Walken would have played it, and how Harvey Keitel changed it. "The lieutenant was going to end up dancing in the streets with the girls as the sun came up. They'd be wearing his gun belt and hat, and they'd have the radio on, you know what I mean? But oh my God, Harvey, he turned it into this whole other thing." Boy, did he. 

5. THAT SCENE WITH THE TEENAGE GIRLS HAD A REAL-LIFE ELEMENT THAT MADE IT EVEN CREEPIER.

One of the young women was Keitel's nanny. Ferrara: "I said, 'You sure you want to do this with your babysitter?' He says, 'Yeah, I want to try something.'"

6. MUCH OF IT WAS FILMED GUERRILLA-STYLE.

Like many indie-minded directors of low-budget films, Ferrara didn't bother with permits most of the time. "We weren't permitted on any of this stuff," editor Anthony Redman admitted. "We just walked on and started shooting." For the scene where a strung-out Lieutenant walks through a bumpin' nightclub, they sent Keitel through an actual, functioning club during peak operating hours.

7. A GREAT DEAL OF THE DIALOGUE AND ACTION WERE MADE UP ON THE FLY.

The script was only about 65 pages at first, which would have made for about a 65-minute movie. "It left a lot of room for improvisation," producer Randy Sabusawa said, "but the ideas were pretty distilled. They were there."

Script supervisor Karen Kelsall said supervising the script was a challenge. "Abel didn't stick to a script," she said. "Abel used a script as a way to get the money to make a movie, and then the script was kind of—we called it the daily news. It changed every day. It changed in the middle of scenes." Ferrara was unapologetic about the script's brevity. "The idea of wanting 90 pages ... is ridiculous."

8. AND THERE WERE EVEN MORE IDEAS THAT THEY DIDN'T USE.

Ferrara said a scene that epitomized the movie for him—even though he never got around to filming it—was one where the Lieutenant robs an electronics store, leaves, then gets a call about a robbery at the electronics store. He responds in an official capacity (they don't recognize him), takes a statement, walks out, and throws the statement in the garbage. "And that to me is the Bad Lieutenant, you know?" Ferrara said. 

9. THE BASEBALL PLAYOFF SERIES IS FICTIONAL.

The Mets have battled the Dodgers for the National League championship once, in 1988. (The Dodgers beat 'em and went on to win the World Series.) For the narrative Ferrara wanted—the Mets coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win the pennant—he had to make it up. He used footage from real Mets-Dodgers games (including Darryl Strawberry's three-run homer from a game in July 1991) and added fictional play-by-play. But the statistics were accurate: no team had ever been down by three in a best-of-seven series and then come back to win. (It's happened once since then, when the 2004 Red Sox did it.)

10. THEY HAD HELP FROM THE COP WHO SOLVED A SIMILAR CASE.

The disgusting crime at the center of the film (we won't dwell on it) was inspired by a real-life incident from 1981, which mayor Ed Koch called "the most heinous crime in the history of New York City." The street cop who solved it, Bo Dietl, advised Ferrara on the film and had an on-screen role as one of the detectives in our Lieutenant's circle of friends.

11. THEY DESECRATED THE CHURCH AS RESPECTFULLY AS THEY COULD.

Production designer Charles Lagola had his team cover the church’s altar and other surfaces with plastic wrap, then painted the graffiti and other defacements on the plastic.

12. IT WAS RATED NC-17 IN THEATERS, WITH AN R-RATED VERSION FOR HOME VIDEO.

Blockbuster and some of the other retail chains wouldn't carry NC-17 or unrated films, so sometimes studios would produce edited versions. (See also: Requiem for a Dream.) The tamer version of Bad Lieutenant was five minutes and 19 seconds shorter, with parts of the rape scene, the drug-injecting scene, and much of the car interrogation scene excised.

13. THE "SEQUEL" HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, NOR DID FERRARA APPROVE OF IT.


First Look International

Movie buffs were baffled in 2009, when Werner Herzog directed Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring Nicolas Cage. It sounds like a sequel (or a remake), but in fact had no connection at all to the earlier film except that both were produced by Edward R. Pressman. Herzog said he'd never seen Ferrara's movie and wanted to change the title (Pressman wouldn't let him); Ferrara, outspoken as always, initially wished fiery death on everyone involved. Ferrara and Herzog finally met at the 2013 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where Herzog initiated a conversation about the whole affair and Ferrara expressed his frustration cordially. 

Additional sources:
DVD interviews with Abel Ferrara, Anthony Redman, Randy Sabusawa, and Karen Kelsall.

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Big Questions
How Are Balloons Chosen for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?
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The balloons for this year's Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade range from the classics like Charlie Brown to more modern characters who have debuted in the past few years, including The Elf On The Shelf. New to the parade this year are Olaf from Disney's Frozen and Chase from Paw Patrol. does the retail giant choose which characters will appear in the lineup?

Balloon characters are chosen in different ways. For example, in 2011, Macy’s requested B. Boy after parade organizers saw the Tim Burton retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. (The company had been adding a series of art balloons to the parade lineup since 2005, which it called the Blue Sky Gallery.) When it comes to commercial balloons, though, it appears to be all about the Benjamins.

First-time balloons cost at least $190,000—this covers admission into the parade and the cost of balloon construction. After the initial year, companies can expect to pay Macy’s about $90,000 to get a character into the parade lineup. If you consider that the balloons are out for only an hour or so, that’s about $1500 a minute.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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