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Fundraiser 2: Payback Time

Sharon Stone attends the first charity concert in St. Petersburg in December
Sharon Stone attends the first charity concert in St. Petersburg in December
Later this month, an illustrious roster of Hollywood stars will once again jet over for another stab at the haphazard charity fundraiser last attended by action man Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
The last one in December didn't end well. The high point was Vladimir Putin’s memorable rendition of Fats Domino’s "Blyuberry Kheel" in front of the likes of Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner, and Sharon Stone.
But the event was overshadowed by the fact that the funds raised did not seem to make it to their supposed recipients -- at least this was the accusation leveled by an angry mother in an open letter written three months later.

A slightly different cast this time around. Mostly grinning down from the Federation Fund’s advertising billboards around Moscow’s muggy streets are: Dustin Hoffman, Woody Allen, Monica Belluci, Kevin Costner, among many others.
Steven Seagal, the aikido-throwing action man who claims to have Russian roots, was also called up. That will likely please his Russian YouTube fan-base who still laugh hysterically when they watch his attempts at swearing in Russian mat. (“Chto ty, blyad, gengster kakoi-to? Eh? Gengster?”)

Of particular note is the invitation of Andy Garcia -- the man who brought panache to his portrayal of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in "Five Days of August," the "blockbuster" about the South Ossetia war in 2008.

The Michael Bay movie brought “Die Hard 2” special effects to a portrayal of events that paints the Russians as the aggressors and their troops as war criminals (this is, of course, according to the film’s detractors -- 22 percent gave the film one out of 10, while 39 percent gave it 10 out of 10 on IMDB).
Perhaps Garcia’s line that the film illustrates the horrors and pointlessness of war has been accepted. Sharon Stone, who actually made an appearance at the film’s premiere in Georgia last month despite not even featuring in the film, also made the cut for the charity’s star-studded cast.
The looming event of course raises the other issue of what Russia’s judo-hurling, butterfly-swimming, tiger-tranquilizing strongman PM could have in store for us later this month. After all, as he told young Russians after singing songs with them round a campfire on a Sochi beach last month: “I am good at everything.”

Tom Balmforth

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