Linda Ronstadt banned for tribute to Michael Moore
Dan Glaister in Los Angeles
Wednesday July 21, 2004
The American singer Linda Ronstadt got a taste of the acrimony of this polarised election year in the US when she was escorted from a Las Vegas casino after she had dedicated a song to the filmmaker Michael Moore.
Calling Moore a "great American patriot" and "someone who is seeking the truth," she urged her audience to see his film Fahrenheit 9/11.
But Bill Timmins, the manager of the Aladdin hotel-casino, took exception to the introduction of politics into the Nevada holiday city.
"It was a very ugly scene," Mr Timmins told the Associated Press. "She praised him and all of a sudden all bedlam broke loose."
The singer's actions, he said, "spoiled a wonderful evening for our guests and we had to do something about it. As long as I'm here, she's not going to play".
After her comments, dozens from the 1,300-strong audience left,with some reportedly tearing down posters. Ronstadt, 58, was not permitted to return to her suite and was removed from the building.
She had made political comments earlier in the show, dedicating one song to Enron and attacking California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, for labelling his political opponents "girlie men".
Moore, whose film has become the first documentary to reach the number one box office spot in the US, immediately issued a statement in defence of the singer, aimed at Mr Timmins. "For you to throw Linda Ronstadt off the premises because she dared to say a few words in support of me and my film is simply stupid and un-American."
The statement was accompanied by an offer: "Invite her back and I'll join her in singing America the Beautiful on your stage."
Before the one-night engagement, the singer had told a local newspaper: "I keep hoping that if I'm annoying enough to them, they won't hire me back."
In an earlier interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Ronstadt explained why she thought Moore's film should be seen.
"I don't try to instruct people how to vote or think," she said. "But Michael Moore has raised some really important points that a lot of people haven't given thought to ... So if I can just lend my voice to his efforts ..."
At the weekend Sir Elton John spoke out against what he termed the "atmosphere of fear" in the US that prevented artists speaking out against the war in Iraq.
"There's an atmosphere in America right now that is deadly," he told Interview magazine. "Everyone is too career-conscious. They're all too scared.
"I don't know if there's been a time when the fear factor played such an important role in America since McCarthyism in the 1950s, as it does now," he added.