Boris Epshteyn, an adviser to Donald Trump, disputed reports that the President-elect was having difficulty recruiting high-powered artists to perform at his inauguration during an interview with CNN on Tuesday, according to Politico. After failing to secure A-listers, Epshteyn and Team Trump have shifted rhetorical course, claiming the focus on big names is at odds with Trump's campaign message.
"This is not Woodstock," Epshteyn declared. "It's not Summer Jam. It's not a concert. It's not about celebrities. As Donald Trump tweeted himself, it's about the people. That's what we're concentrated on."
Epshteyn praised the three acts currently confirmed to perform at the inauguration – the Radio City Rockettes, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and America's Got Talent alumna Jackie Evancho – for serving as emissaries of the populace. "The Rockettes represent the American people," he said. "The Mormon Tabernacle Choir represents the American people." His language echoed that of the president-elect. "The so-called 'A' list celebrities are all wanting tixs to the inauguration, but look what they did for Hillary, NOTHING," Trump tweeted on December 22nd. "I want the PEOPLE!"
Though the Rockettes are slated to take part in the event next month, the group's union, the American Guild of Variety Artists, recently issued a statement saying that dancers were not required to participate. Speaking with Marie Claire under a pseudonym, one dancer indicated that three of the troupe's 13 full-time dancers had already refused to perform, and that other members of the troupe were wary of committing. "We do a lot of events, but there have been no events that could cause trauma," she noted. "And doing this would cause trauma for some people."
Ken Levitan, a manager of a wide range of top musical acts, told Rolling Stone that many artists felt similarly to the Rockettes – even those who supported Trump. "I do know some of the very conservative [artists] have no desire to [perform at the inauguration]," Levitan explained. "[They] just don't want to be involved in the circus,"he added. "It's a media circus, and not necessarily in a good way."