Shakira faces sweatshop allegations
SOUND BITES Shakira may have had a hit with her CD ”Laundry Service,” but now she’s being hung out to dry over her ties to a retailer marketing allegedly sweatshop-manufactured clothes. In January, the Colombian singer did a photo shoot for Delia’s, appeared on the cover of the popular teen catalog, and gave away 500 autographed CDs to Delia’s customers. But the New York Daily News reports that some of Delia’s knit tops were manufactured at the Danmar factory in Brooklyn, where a workforce made up largely of immigrants from Mexico and Ecuador has been fighting for a year and a half to get back pay for overtime hours, leading to a U.S. Department of Labor order that the back wages be paid, an order the factory has refused to comply with. (Workers were reportedly threatened with firings if they refused to work overtime for free.) ”No, it can’t be. She could not have known,” one employee told the Daily News. ”She’s also Latina. She’s one of us.”
Indeed, she may not have known. A catalog spokeswoman said that the retailer had already once discontinued selling a line of clothes when it found out they were made at Danmar, and that the knit tops at issue this time were not part of the Shakira promotion. The singer’s label, Epic Records, didn’t say whether or not she was aware of the Danmar-Delia’s connection, but an Epic spokesperson said, ”Shakira is totally opposed to sweatshops.”…
Controversial Grammy chief Michael Greene announced he’s stepping down after an eight-hour board meeting on Saturday resulted in a vote of no confidence. Greene, who’s been president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences since 1988, is widely credited with boosting the profile and the bank account of the Grammy organization, multiplying its assets tenfold (from $5 million to $50 million) and making the annual awards ceremony into a cash cow (despite mediocre ratings, the telecast earns NARAS a reported $20 million a year from CBS). But he’s also been a lightning rod for bad publicity, whether for his lavish salary (at $2 million a year, he’s the highest paid president of a non-profit organization in the U.S.) or for his sometimes combative personality (seen in his audience-alienating rant about Internet piracy during this year’s Grammy show, or during his 1998 argument with then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani over Greene’s denial that he had cursed out a female city staffer, leading to the award show’s banishment from New York for the next four years). Most notoriously, Greene was facing multiple accusations of sexual harassment. He denied the accusations, and NARAS released a statement on Saturday saying that an internal investigation had cleared him of the charges, but NARAS still paid a $650,000 settlement to one accuser in February. Greene, who did not publicly cite a reason for his resignation, will stay on in an advisory capacity for a few months, including overseeing this fall’s Latin Grammy ceremony, which last week announced it would follow the Oscars by taking up residence at Hollywood’s new Kodak Theatre.
REEL DEALS ”The Fast and the Furious” was a huge hit, not because of Vin Diesel‘s charismatic street racer, but because of Paul Walker‘s whitebread undercover cop. At least, that’s what Universal is hoping, since Diesel will not be appearing in ”F&F 2.” Variety reports that Diesel is saying no to the sequel for what he says are creative reasons, though he may have also priced himself out of the picture with a salary request said to be as high as $20 million. (He got $2.5 million for ”F&F”). Also sitting out the sequel is director Rob Cohen, who said he’d walk if Diesel did. You’ll still get to see a Diesel-Cohen collaboration when extreme sports/spy thriller ”XXX” opens this summer; Diesel successfully negotiated a $10 million payday for that after ”F&F” became a sleeper hit….
Having conquered baseball on film in ”The Rookie,” Dennis Quaid wants his next cinematic sport to be auto racing. He plans to star in a yet-untitled movie as Lee Petty, father of NASCAR legend Richard Petty and a top driver himself in the 1950s and ’60s. The film would focus on the often demanding father’s relationship with his son and will be produced with the cooperation of the younger Petty….