Cannes: Pharrell Williams Drops Out of amfAR Event (Exclusive)

Pharrell Williams - 2017 Charlottesville Concert - Getty - H 2018
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The move comes on the heels of Sharon Stone stepping aside as a co-chair of the event, which is reeling from the stain left by Harvey Weinstein.

Pharrell Williams has pulled out as a performer at the upcoming amfAR Cannes gala. The move comes on the heels of Sharon Stone stepping aside as a co-chair of the event, which is trying to recover from the damage done to the charitable organization by Harvey Weinstein.

AmfAR cited "a scheduling conflict" as the reason for Williams' exit. Both Williams and Stone were listed on the group's original invitation, while Williams appeared on the revised version. In an interview with THR, amfAR CEO Kevin Frost said Williams' participation was locked for the May 17 fundraiser held at the Hotel du Cap in Cap d'Antibes.

A source says Williams dropped out due to negative press surrounding the organization and its Cannes gala. A rep for Williams declined to comment on his exit.

Over the years, Weinstein had become synonymous with the annual black-tie affair, enlisting A-listers like Leonardo DiCaprio, Nicole Kidman and Jessica Chastain. His sexual misconduct and misdeeds — which were first exposed in October and have grown to include nearly 100 women — have posed a PR problem for the organization, given that some of his alleged sexual assaults took place at the Cannes Film Festival. But far more damaging is the less-reported scandal that involved the disgraced mogul and amfAR: A dubious deal spearheaded by Weinstein that allegedly allowed him to profit from fundraising proceeds, including those generated by the Cannes event in 2015. The airing of that deal prompted the Feb. 8 ouster of the group's chairman, shoe designer Kenneth Cole.

AmfAR tried to put a positive face on Williams' exit, saying that Sting and Shaggy are now confirmed to perform.

The group's Cannes event is typically the most glamorous during the festival, and this year it has no competition given that Vanity Fair has opted to sit out this year's incarnation and not throw its annual bash. It also raises about $20 million every year for AIDS research. But multiple sources tell THR that they are reluctant to attend this year's gala considering that criminal charges could result from a federal investigation that is looking into the Weinstein deal.

In the case of Stone, her reps offered a vague explanation for why she pulled out at the eleventh hour, saying, "Sharon will not be attending Cannes now. She is going to work on a new project."

A version of this story appears in The Hollywood Reporter's May 8 daily issue from the Cannes Film Festival. Click here to download.