Trump Reportedly Scrambles To Secure Talent For His Inauguration Next Month

Andrew Harnik
December 22, 2016,

President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly "very unhappy" with his team's inability to secure entertainers for his Jan. 20 inauguration, as A-list stars are rumored to continue turning down requests to perform.

Trump has ordered a "Hail Mary" rearrangement of recruitment efforts to book talent for his inauguration, according to an anonymous source familiar with the situation cited in a report published Wednesday by The Wrap.

The same source told The Wrap that Mark Burnett, the executive producer of "The Apprentice" who is helping plan Trump's inauguration festivities, enlisted Suzanne Bender, a talent producer on shows including "American Idol" and "America's Got Talent," to help get stars onboard.

The demand to salvage the festivities came "directly" from Trump, according to the source.

Bender could not be reached for comment and Burnett’s publicist did not respond to The Wrap's requests for comment. Boris Epshteyn, communications director for Trump's inaugural committee, denied to the site that Trump's team was having problems securing performers.

The only talent confirmed to perform at Trump's inauguration so far is Jackie Evancho, a 16-year-old former contestant on "America's Got Talent" who announced that she would sing the national anthem at the ceremony, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The choir confirmed on Thursday that it would perform at Trump’s inauguration. "We are honored to be able to serve our country by providing music for the inauguration of our next president,” president Ron Jarrett said in a statement.

According to the report from The Wrap, Elton John, country star Garth Brooks and opera singer Andrea Bocelli all have rejected requests to perform for Trump's inauguration. The site also reported that Trump's team failed in efforts to book Celine Dion.

The President-elect had been scheduled to meet with Bocelli on Dec. 16, as his transition team told reporters on a conference call that same day. However, the New York Times reported this week that Bocelli would not be performing at Trump's inauguration. Thomas J. Barrack Jr., the chairman of the President-elect's inaugural committee, told the Times that Bocelli had made the initial offer and Trump had declined it.

According to a report in The Wrap published earlier in December, Trump's team offered bookers cash or diplomatic posts if they could secure high-wattage talent for his inauguration. In a statement to the publication, Epshteyn said there was "no truth" to the notion that the team had offered ambassadorships in exchange for star bookings.

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