J-Lo, Crusher of Nations(‘ economic hopes)

by Nathan Hamm on 5/1/2006 · 8 comments

MosNews reported the other day that Georgia offered Jennifer Lopez $500,000 to come to Tbilisi to taste Georgian wine on the country’s independence day. I initially thought, like many in Georgian politics apparently, that this is a pretty stupid way to use public money. Thankfully though, J-Lo said no, so I can instead focus on what a bad person she is.

But in an acute embarrassment to President Mikhail Saakashvili, Lopez rejected the offer, reportedly setting unrealistic conditions for her appearance and holding out for a much larger fee.

A Government official said an offer had been made, and that Lopez had turned it down. The singer had also asked for overly expensive stage equipment, he said, adding that the money would have been raised through sponsors, not from the state budget.

For someone who has a $10,000 per day hairdresser and ridiculous riders for short appearances, it’s no surprise Lopez shot down Georgia’s offer. Georgia’s wine industry may have lucked out though. Miss Lopez isn’t exactly box office magic.

Speaking of the Russian ban on Georgian wine, check out this great protest that went down in Tbilisi against it.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention about this whole Russian wine ban that whenever I Russian government officials play themselves off as innocents who just want everyone to get along (third paragraph of quoted section), I can’t help but wonder whether or not the ability to tell boldfaced lies, is something learned or something congenital.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Brian May 1, 2006 at 10:54 pm

Van Damme and Steven Segal seem to still be big in Central Asian countries. They could probably get both of them for $50 these days.

Nathan May 1, 2006 at 10:57 pm

I hear that if you pay Segal double, he’ll throw in a case of his energy drink. (But I wonder how much he charges to give you just the “Asian Experience.”)

carpetblogger May 2, 2006 at 12:17 am

But Sting and Enya reportedly played at Ilham Aliyev’s daughter’s wedding in Baku over the weekend. That’s better than J. Lo in Tbilisi any day.

Nathan, note new carpetblog address for you link list.

Alexander May 2, 2006 at 12:37 am

Apparently, in an attempt to bully Moldova into recognising the smuggling haven of Trans-dniestria as a ‘country’, the Russians have banned Moldovan wine as well – and exports of it to Russia make up about 40% of Moldova’s GNP. So – whilst Georgia and Moldova suffer from Mr. Putin’s malice, Russians are deprived both of cheap (but drinkable) Moldovan plonk and of the classier Georgian wine they drink on special occasions. I’d like to think this would produce some sort of popular uprising, but no doubt it will just send more people back to vodka.

Peter May 2, 2006 at 4:18 am

I’m afraid the Russians are being viciously maligned over this one. Real Georgian wine in Russia is an extreme rarity, most of what is sold under that description actually being a concoction of sugary chemicals and artificial flavourings. I have never once in my time living in Moscow managed to find anything vaguely resembling the wine that I have drunk in Georgia. The closest approximation has been very far from cheap and compares in price with lower-end Italians, which is hardly within the reach of poorer Russians’ budgets.

Brian May 2, 2006 at 1:39 pm

Ha, I like that link to Steven Segal’s Lightning Bolt energy drink. He’s too overweight these days to model for it himself, so there’s a lean muscular guy to promote the drink.

Alexander May 2, 2006 at 2:19 pm

True Georgian wine is indeed a rarity in Russia (although I had some very decent Saperavi in Samara once) – and at 400 roubles for a bottle of half-decent Mukuzani at Aromatny Mir it is hardly cheap. The ban on Moldovan wine may have a more profound impact though, as it seems to be drunk much more widely.

John May 2, 2006 at 2:46 pm

Peter, I wouldn’t say Russia is being maligned over this. Yes, much of the wine sold as Georgian in Russia is fake, but most of it probably come from Kaluga or anywhere else you care to mention. The Georgians are aggreived because it is a blanket ban which also hit reputable winemakers.

When the Georgian defence minister pointed out that you can sell shit in Russia, he wasn’t far wrong. Most Russians cannot afford real Georgian wine (which costs at least 4 or 5 dollars in Tbilisi for the cheapest stuff). They know the famous names – Khvanchkara, Mukuzani, Kindzmarauli and so on – but very few bottles of these wines are produced. Saperavi, a grape variety is widely produced, but wines like Mukuzani are specific to a village and cost at least 20-25 dollars in Georgia itself.
This year, for example, no Khvanchkara is going to be produced at all because of late frosts and hail, but I bet someone in Magnitogorsk is knocking up labels for a Khvanchkara 2006 vintage.

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