Celebs and charities
pkeets at hotmail.com
Sun Jul 25 20:58:46 CDT 2004
This article is written about UK charities and their concerns with things
celebrities associated with them might say or do (including Pete Townshend),
but it's sort of appropriate to our recent discussion of celebrity politics
in the US.
Sun 25 Jul 2004
Stars face behaviour pledge
CHARITIES should vet their famous sponsors and even get them to sign good
behaviour pledges, according to new rules being introduced to control
The rules have been drawn up over concerns that the lifestyles of some stars
could bring their charities into disrepute, but show business insiders
warned that the rules could put famous people off getting involved.
High-profile stars including Angus Deayton, Jeffrey Archer, Pete Townshend
and John Leslie have seen associations with charities cut short after
negative exposure in the media.
The Institute of Fundraising, a professional body for fundraisers, said
charities must investigate "whether any aspect of a celebritys reputation
might prove harmful to the organisations reputation" and secure agreements
which will set out their commitments and could even guarantee their
behaviour while backing a campaign.
But the entertainment world warned the contracts would stifle the charitable
spirit and could even put off people who wanted to give of their time.
Booking agent Michael Garrett, who represents several British film and TV
actors, said: "I think it will put celebrities off from the outset. I cant
see how this is going to work.
"A contract to volunteer is a very difficult issue because someone is not
being paid to do something. I cant see the paperwork being enforced. I
think the bureaucracy of it will make people think twice about giving of
their free time."
Bethany Stoker, from the celebrity team of National Childrens Homes,
arranges events involving 300 celebrities each year but felt written
agreements could damage the relationship between stars and charities.
"That totally negates the idea that they are giving up their time generously
for their support. If you start exchanging contracts or agreements it makes
it more of a professional booking, which is not in the spirit of charities.
"They are very much doing it out of the goodness of their heart. Clearly a
great deal of our job is research. You probably wouldnt approach someone
you had just read about in the papers or who had a reputation for letting
Hundreds of guests were left disappointed and confused at an Edinburgh
dinner in aid of Capability Scotland in June 2002 when TV presenter Angus
Deayton, who was to be the principal speaker at the event, pulled out after
revelations of his involvement with drugs and prostitutes emerged in the
The charity said the star had cancelled the show although a memo circulated
at the time suggested it was the organisation which had made the decision.
Edinburgh-born TV star John Leslie has found it difficult to get involved
again in charity activity since he was cleared of sex allegations that saw
him removed from his prime-time job at GMTV.
I cant see how it will work. Celebrities will be put off from the outset
Leslie admitted taking cocaine and was accused of staging wild sex parties
at his home.
In an interview earlier this year, the Scottish star stated that he had been
"put on hold" as a celebrity supporter during the police investigation into
sex allegations against him, but he has not been since called to help with
more good works.
His involvement with the National Childrens Homes and Children With
Leukaemia charities has been scaled down and consists of attending charity
dinners. In the case of the latter charity, his name has been removed from
the charitys online listing of celebrity supporters.
Legendary 1960s guitarist Pete Townshend had been heavily involved in
childrens charities in the UK and US, and had auctioned guitars and played
at charity concerts.
The rock stars reputation was dealt a grievous blow in January last year
when he was arrested for accessing child pornography over the internet.
Although cleared of the serious charge of possessing pornographic images of
children, he was placed on the sex offenders register and the youth
charities he worked with have moved to put distance between themselves and
The Who star has admitted that two childrens charities returned donations
from him after his arrest.
One charity source described the problems caused for the United Nations
Population Fund when they engaged former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell as a
goodwill ambassador, touring the world to promote sexual health among
A fundraiser for one major charity said: "She was a UN ambassador and was
told the things that she should speak on and promote, but the upshot of that
was that the UN looked stupid when she went to press conferences and said
the wrong thing."
Lord Archer ran a number of high-profile charity campaigns including one for
the Kurds. He was a regular host of charity events, but after his conviction
for perjury his attempts to raise cash for charity have amounted to
sponsorship for running the London Marathon this year.
Laura Taylor, policy officer with the Institute of Fundraising insisted
written agreements would not be used as a legal tool against stars.
She said: "There might have been instances where they have organised to work
with the charity and they pull out of the process. If charities are getting
these big celebrities it is important to ensure that their reputation is not
"It will involve talking to agents, looking at their biography, seeing what
they have been involved with. Have they participated in something that
wouldnt sit well with a childrens charity? Have they said things in the
past that could alienate people?"
'Altruism' is hard to bear
THE profile of sports and entertainment stars has long been recognised as an
effective way to make millions for good causes or draw attention to issues.
Large charities have specialist units aimed at fostering relationships with
stars and their agents.
But sometimes the altruism is not all it seems. A fundraiser at one charity
said: "They benefit from the relationship as well because they gain from
being seen to be interested in good causes. They need us more than we need
While most stars give time freely to back causes, others charge thousands
for their participation.
Charities often agree to pay this if they believe the stars participation
will increase ticket sales, but one official at a Scottish charity said:
"Some BBC staff only do stuff for Children in Need because someone has put
them in a Half-Nelson. They have no interest in good causes, but they will
go on about all the work they do for charity."
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