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.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Weinstein Can Get a Fair Trial in Manhattan, Says D.A.

    The Manhattan District Attorney’s office argued on Friday that Harvey Weinstein can get a fair trial in Manhattan, and blamed the producer’s defense team for much of the pre-trial publicity in the case. Weinstein’s attorneys have asked an appellate court to transfer the case — which is set to begin on Sept. 9 — to [...]

  • Leonardo DiCaprio Madonna

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna Call for Action on Amazon Wildfires

    As wildfires rage at an alarming rate in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest, celebrities are using their platforms to bring awareness to the deforestation’s impact and to call for action. In the past week, stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna, Cara Delevingne and Ariana Grande have taken to Instagram to express their frustration with the lack of [...]

  • 'The Durrells' TV Show

    Greece Sweetens Production Incentives as Struggling Country's Economy Rebounds

    It’s taken the better part of a decade for Greece to show signs of recovery from the crippling crisis that almost pushed it out of the Eurozone. Now, with the economy slowly on the mend, the government is doubling down on efforts to jump-start the local film industry, giving a dramatic overhaul to the incentive [...]

  • Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group announced it has entered a partnership with the music streaming and discovery service Audiomack, marking the platform’s first licensing deal with a major label. According to the announcement, the two companies will work together on content concepts and explore ways to break emerging artists, connecting music fans with rising talent before they [...]

  • Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on

    Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on ‘Brilliant’ Album and Campaign

    Two days after Taylor Swift fired off the latest salvo in her battle with Scooter Braun, the manager congratulated the singer on the campaign around her “brilliant” new album, “Lover,” which arrived last night. The message came after Swift said she will be re-recording songs from her first six albums, which are now owned by [...]

  • David Koch Obit

    David Koch, Libertarian Activist and Billionaire Philanthropist, Dies at 79

    David Koch, brother of Charles Koch and one of the owners of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the U.S., has died at 79. According to the New York Times, Charles Koch announced the news of his brother’s death in a statement. Though he did not attribute to David’s death to a particular cause, [...]

  • Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing

    Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing From Usher, Adam Lambert

    A Beverly Hills real estate agent has been arrested on charges of stealing from the homes of celebrities, including Usher, Adam Lambert and “Real Housewives” star Dorit Kemsley. Jason Emil Yaselli, 32, is accused of encouraging an accomplice, Benjamin Ackerman, to enter homes during open houses in order to steal from them. Ackerman allegedly sold [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content