Monday, May 19, 2008

Have you bought a ticket yet?

Folks, EuroVision is here again. Who is going? I need find a way there. I doubt I can afford the ticket (or that I would torture myself through the terrible songs EV is known for) but it would be nice to go check out all the cute gay guys converging in Beograd. Who knows? I might be able to convince some of them to fact check their sexual preference with me ;) Here is a piece on the prep but not without political bitching, of course.

Serbs tune in for Eurosong
Neil MacDonald Belgrade
Source: Financial Times

The lights are hung, the stage is built and the 300 sq m electronic backdrop is ready to project the Eurosong 2008 logo. "It's going to be the greatest show," says Aleksandar Tijanic, general manager of Radio Television Serbia, the state broadcaster, and master of ceremonies for next weekend's Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade. "I hope we can keep it apolitical." Hosting Eurosong will help Serbia improve its image in the European Union, Mr Tijanic says. The chance for the maligned Balkan country to bask in the European spotlight caps the unexpected success of Serbia's pro-EU alliance in parliamentary elections on May 11. Yet there are doubts over whether the former Yugoslav republic will extend a warm welcome to nearly 10,000 tourists and 2,500 journalists who are expected to descend on the capital this week. Nationalist Serbs are still smarting over Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia on February 17. For the organisers, the contest "couldn't have come at a worse time - right after presidential elections, then parliamentary elections, and at the peak of the Kosovo crisis", Mr Tijanic says. "But it's a good test for all of us. Traditional Serbian hospitality will win, and people will feel comfortable in this city." Marija Serifovic's Eurosong victory in Helsinki last year gave Serbia the right to host this year's competition and a chance for some soft diplomacy towards Europe. But Ms Serifovic dabbled in Serb nationalist propaganda, standing next to the nationalist politician Tomislav Nikolic at rallies ahead of his unsuccessful presidential bid. Ms Serifovic subsequently fired her manager and renounced political appearances. "She will sing at the opening," Mr Tijanic says. In February doubts over Belgrade's ability to host the light-hearted Eurosong grew as protesters torched the US embassy in Belgrade. Washington and leading EU countries advised their citizens against travelling to Serbia. Mr Tijanic says the riots did not reflect Belgrade's true character.
Gay organisations - whose constituents are among the greatest fans of the event - recalled how extreme-rightwing thugs wrecked Belgrade's first and only gay pride parade in 2001. Mr Tijanic says Serbia would not tolerate attacks on gays. "I refuse to look at visitors as gay people or straight people. For us, they're participants and guests." The contest will cost 12m ($18.5m, £9.5m), of which the European Broadcasting Union, which runs the 52-year-old show, has contributed 3.5m. But the international exposure from Eurosong will be worth 100m, according to Mr Tijanic. Yet the Kosovo question is never far away. The new breakaway state - whose broadcasters lack EBU membership - cannot send any of its aspiring music idols. This is a relief to Mr Tijanic. "As far as I'm concerned, I'd rather cancel it all than organise Eurosong with Kosovo as a participant."

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