Dan Conway’s Corner

In the entertainment industry, including Hollywood stars, when they draw up a contract, specify what is known as a ‘Rider’, or ‘Riders’, to their work upon a film set, theatre, or whatever medium they are about to work in.

These reflect the personal and technical needs and requirements of the artist. Some of the ‘riders’ are surprising: in 1982, the rock group Van Halen insisted on a bowl of M & M sweets with all the brown ones taken out. I guess they were doing it for the publicity (it’s better that trashing hotel rooms); some primadonnas asked for bottled water flown in specially from the spa regions in France.

But the worst one of all, to my mind, was the ‘rider’ of an environmentalist who insisted on being provided with his own private jet for the duration of his contract.

Now that, by any standard, is the pits in hypocracy, and makes one wonder about the bonafides of a number of those folk who come onscreen regularly to lecture us on what we’re doing wrong and what we’re not doing right. And they keep referring to the world as “the planet” or “our planet”, in a very possessive and personalised way, which isn’t quite the same as saying “we’re going to see the planetarium”, but isn’t a million miles away from it.

They give the impression that they see the world as ‘their’ planet, as something maleable and controllable as a planetarium; they seem to want to apply their own ‘house rules’ for all of us to live by, on ‘the planet’. Imagine, all that heavy duty pollution of the atmosphere just so that an “environmentalist” can let a plethora of hot air out over the airwaves! I can hear Mr Spocks saying, “Illogical, Captain!” But, I digress.

Unlike that environmentalist chappie, though, the singer Aretha Franklin would never have insisted on a private jet, for she was terrified of flying.

And artistes afraid of flying in the United States, given the size of the country, have a lot of road to travel between venues.

When you consider that many stars are on the road a lot and live out of suitcases, as the saying goes, it’s not surprising that they insist on fresh socks and underwear as a basic ‘rider’. And so, not having proper facilities, it makes sense to dispense with laundry and simply insert a ‘rider’ for the supply of new items of aparrel as and when required.

But there are those who take it a step further and insist on things such as silk Calvin Klein boxer shorts, and presumably these folk would want bling with everything. Bling it on, Mr. Haberdasher!might be the catch-cry.

The late Robin Williams always insisted on including a very special ‘rider’. His contract had a requirement that, for each and every film he made, and event or performance given by him, the company that engaged him also had to hire a minimum number of homeless people and give them work on the that self-same project.

As far as I’m aware, the late great Robin Williams was a very charitable man and was very generous with his time and money in support to needy organisations.

But it was typical of the man that he also anted to use his clout, his influence as a performing star, to make sure that less-well-off people got an opportunity to see their own worth in a new light, and also to open the eyes and the hearts of production companies and planners of such events, so that they learned the value of giving others a chance to work their way back to self-esteem and a better place in society. It’d be interesting to know if any of these production companies are still giving the Robin Williams treatment to those less fortunate than themselves. 

Read Dan Conway every week in Ireland’s Own