You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Protest Aimed at Saudi Crown Prince During U.S. Visit Targets WME

About a dozen protesters from Code Pink, a social justice organization, demonstrated at WME’s Beverly Hills offices against Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, decrying a Saudi-sponsored military intervention in Yemen that has contributed to a humanitarian crisis.

WME’s offices were chosen because of the pending deal between its parent company, Endeavor, and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, which is nearing a transaction believed to be $400 million to $500 million for a minority stake in the entertainment company.

Salman, who is in Los Angeles on Monday, is in the middle of a three-week tour of the U.S. in an effort to court American investment in the country, which has undergone some modernizing reforms, including granting women the right to drive and lifting a 35-year-old ban on cinemas in the country.

The charm offensive includes stops in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Seattle, where Salman has met with industry titans and political leaders. In Los Angeles, Salman is expected to rub shoulders with entertainment industry leaders like Disney’s Bob Iger, Warner Bros.’ Kevin Tsujihara, and others.

The removal of the cinema ban has sparked the interest of U.S. entertainment companies eager to enter a new market and to find a new source of foreign investment after China sharply curtailed foreign investment in Hollywood.

“Prince bin Salman is here in Beverly Hills and Hollywood and talking to people who run studios,” said Jodie Evans, the organizer of Monday’s demonstration. “This is a man that doesn’t allow the freedom of women or human rights in his country. He’s bombing Yemen into a humanitarian crisis, and everybody thinks he’s charming. He’s not charming. That we’re normalizing violence in the time of #MeToo is tragic.”

Evans and other demonstrators criticized what they said is sophisticated public-relations campaign to make the country’s recent reforms seem more progressive and palatable. “I think he’s blowing smoke up the a– of Americans so that he can bomb Yemen,” Evans said.

Michele Modglin, a 67-year-old retired nurse practitioner, agreed, saying Salman is simply trying to change perception of Saudi Arabia so that its human rights violations record can be overlooked.

The protest was a small one, but still attracted the curiosity of passersby, including a TMZ celebrity tour bus. “The Saudi Prince is a war criminal,” Modglin and others shouted at the bus. One woman entering the Equinox gym nearby offered her support, saying, “You all are awesome,” as she went inside.

A WME spokeswoman said Monday that there were no meetings planned at WME between bin Salman and the agency’s co-CEO, Ari Emanuel.

More Biz

  • Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt in

    Paramount Inks Deal for Theme Park in South Korea

    Paramount Pictures has announced a deal to install a studio-branded theme park in an entertainment resort being developed in South Korea. The agreement was struck between Paramount and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, which owns the Inspire Integrated Entertainment Resort in the South Korean city of Incheon. Mohegan has invested KRW 2.8 trillion ($2.4 billion) in [...]

  • Davan Maharaj Mel Gibson

    L.A. Times Publisher's Lawyer Was Accused of Extorting Mel Gibson

    The attorney who negotiated a $2.5 million exit package for L.A. Times publisher Davan Maharaj was previously accused of using secret recordings to extort actor Mel Gibson. Surreptitious recordings also figure in the Maharaj case. NPR reported on Wednesday that Maharaj taped Tronc chairman Michael Ferro. According to the report, Ferro was heard on the [...]

  • 'Blurred Lines' Suit Ends With $5

    'Blurred Lines' Suit Ends With $5 Million Judgement Against Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams

    After five years, the legal battle over the copyright of the Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit “Blurred Lines” has ended, with Marvin Gaye’s family being awarded a final judgment of nearly $5 million against the song’s primary writers, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, according to CNN and other reports. The pair were accused of copyright infringement [...]

  • WME Veteran Ari Greenburg Promoted to

    WME Veteran Ari Greenburg Promoted to President of Talent Agency

    WME veteran Ari Greenburg, one of the original Endeavor staffers who helped build the talent agency that became an industry powerhouse, has been promoted to president. Greenburg will oversee all daily operations across WME and its offices in Beverly Hills, New York, Nashville, London and Sydney. The promotion recognizes the role that Greenburg has played [...]

  • Alison Wenham Steps Down as CEO

    Alison Wenham Steps Down as CEO of WIN

    After 12 years at the helm of the Worldwide Independent Network, a global trade organization for the independent music industry, Alison Wenham is stepping down as Chief Executive, it was announced today. Prior to joining WIN full time in 2016 Alison was CEO of The Association of Independent Music (AIM), which she started in 1999. [...]

  • Leslie Moonves

    Leslie Moonves Quietly Exits AFI and Paley Center Boards

    Leslie Moonves, the ousted CEO of CBS Corp. who has been accused of sexual misconduct by several women, is no longer serving on the boards of trustees of the American Film Institute and the Paley Center for Media. For now, Moonves retains his seat on the board of gaming company ZeniMax Media. The appointments on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content