David Foster was asked to play a key role in planning Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities, an insider with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.
Saturday, Foster took to Instagram to repudiate the claim, saying: “Woke up this morning to a lot of news. For the record, I was asked to participate in the upcoming inauguration some time ago and I politely and respectfully declined. Any news outlet that is reporting otherwise is misinformed.”
So far, the only person confirmed to perform at the event is 16-year-old “America’s Got Talent” contestant Jackie Evancho, who was first discovered by Foster, but the music executive was also said to be helping recruit singer Andrea Bocelli to perform at the festivities.
Bocelli and Foster have a close relationship and starred in PBS’ “Andrea Bocelli & David Foster: My Christmas.”
Trump’s team has been having a hard time finding performers for the inauguration parties and offered ambassadorships to at least two talent bookers if they could deliver marquee names, the bookers told TheWrap.
TheWrap spoke previously to industry insiders who said the inauguration team has its sights set on top-tier talents like Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and Aretha Franklin, and were willing to pay steep fees for the performers. Perry sang at the Democratic National Convention in July, and Franklin sang at President Obama’s first inauguration.
Rewarding big campaign donors, fundraisers and other loyalists with ambassadorships is nothing new. According to the American Foreign Service Association, more than 40 percent of Obama’s ambassador nominees in his second term went to political rather than career diplomats. In recent past administrations the figure was about 30 percent, according to NPR.
But handing out government posts for talent bookers is outside the norm.
One veteran inaugural organizer told TheWrap it is unusual to compensate talent and recruiters for an inauguration performance, which is usually considered a high-profile, high-prestige, patriotic gig. And the Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan group that advocates for open government and accountability, called the idea “alarming.”