New Details Emerge After Hilary Swank Fired By Her Publicity Firm
In the continuing fallout from her October visit to Chechnya, Hilary Swank has been dropped by her publicists at 42 West because the star declined to accept responsibility for the ill-advised trip.
Swank has been caught in a maelstrom ever since she attended an Oct. 5 birthday celebration for dictator Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been linked to torture, murder and human-rights abuses.
Swank had previously fired her manager of eight years, Jason Weinberg, and dropped two members of her team at CAA, Amie Yavor and Josh Lieberman, for their role in booking the appearance. Before the trip, Weinberg had sent an email to a human-rights group stating that Swank did not plan to attend the event. Instead, she was visible in clips on YouTube applauding at the event, addressing the crowd and wishing Kadyrov a happy birthday.
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Swank later issued a statement saying that she "deeply regrets" attending. "If I had a full understanding of what this event was apparently intended to be, I would never have gone," she said.
But sources say Swank's reps felt that the Oscar-winner needed to take full responsibility for the mistake and that in the internet era, her claims of ignorance did not strike the right note. (The public-relations firm was on hiatus with the star when the trip took place but she asked for help in fending off the resulting negative publicity.) They say the firm was uncomfortable with Swank's desire to imply that her reps were to blame.
A source with knowledge of the booking says Swank's contract was with a Turkish company that had invested in a massive redevelopment in the city of Grozny and was producing the event. She believed it was strictly associated with the opening of that development. When her agent inquired about the warning from the human rights group, Swank's reps were assured by that company that the event in question was not a party for Kadyrov, this source says. At that point, her manager gave the assurance that she was not attending the birthday celebration. Had she known that the event was also a celebration for Kadyrov, this person says, "She would never have agreed to do that." When there, she discovered that the birthday was part of celebration but remained ignorant of Kadyrov's alleged misconduct and wished him happy birthday out of politeness.
Other celebrities who attended, including Jean-Claude Van Damme and Seal, have not offered any apologies.