Top 10 Outrageous Celeb Contract Demands
From germaphobe Blige to the funny Foo Fighters, stars' odd requests.
Dec. 15, 2008 — -- Want the inside scoop on your favorite band? Take a peak at the contract rider for their latest tour, where you'll find requests for everything from clean socks and underwear to pot, pork rinds – and more.
"In their 1982 rider, Van Halen infamously wanted a bowl of M&Ms – with all the brown ones picked out," said Andrew Goldberg, managing editor of theSmokingGun.com, which showcases more than 300 crazy celeb riders on its Backstage page.
"Clearly, it was a test," he said. "If you put in something really odd – like no brown M&Ms – and they catch it, it means the promoters are paying attention. If they miss that, what other, more important points are they missing? Lighting, security, microphones, amps? For musicians, that's a big deal. If you don't pay attention to the little things, you may be missing the bigger things."
Blender magazine senior editor Tyler Gray says that these often-obscure celebrity demands are also a power play.
"They're pushing it to see how far they can go," he said. "It's a control issue. They've reached a certain point in their careers where they expect respect. And they want a physical manifestation of it. Typically, the more D-list the celebrity, the bigger the demands. A Screech-type will gripe and complain, but a J.Lo type is not even dealing with it. You meet her demands or she simply goes home."
But the Smoking Gun's Goldberg also points out the practicality of some rider demands.
"People are living on the road, out of suitcases, in these cramped vans," he said. "So new underwear and socks are really popular requests. They just dump the old stuff and pull on the new ones. It's so much easier than trying to do laundry on the road. Still, when they start getting specific, like silk Calvin Klein boxers, that's a little insane."
And, Blender's Gray notes, these day-long pit-stops are as close to home as these stars will get for a while – so might as well make them as comfortable as possible.
"If you've been backstage at one of these venues, you know it's disgusting, it's where people are drinking and sweating and throwing up after the show," Gray said. "So in these contracts, they're aiming really high just to get something that is remotely acceptable, not barf-ridden and smelly.
"They definitely are a window into a celebrity's quirks, phobias, mental illnesses," gray said. "Like Aretha Franklin's fear of flying or Jennifer Lopez's fetish for white. But these contract riders also demonstrate how desperate these celebs are for some semblance of home on the road."
The cultural relevance of these celebrity contract riders was elevated to a new high last week on Bravo TV's "Top Chef." The Foo Fighter's manager wrote an amusing contract rider complete with a request for vegetarian soup. What's funny about that? "Meaty soups make roadies fart," said the rider.
On "Top Chef," "they basically took the Foo Fighters rider and turned it into an episode last week," said Goldberg. "The challenge was to prepare a meal for the band based on their contract rider. Then the Foo Fighters got to pick who got to stay and who got sent home that week. It was awesome."
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