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Celebrating Diana, Minus the Charity

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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When plans for Sunday's Concert for Diana were first unveiled in London last year, the star-studded event was billed as a charitable event designed to raise funds for the late princess's favorite organizations. "We want it to represent exactly what our mother would have wanted; how she was and all that sort of thing," enthused Prince William recalling his mother's commitment to charity. Diana, a tireless advocate for such causes as AIDS and land mine-clearing, regularly raised millions a year for her pet projects. But somewhere along the line, bad planning and cost overruns forced the concert's organizers to radically readjust their expectations. In fact, sources say, the sold-out event, which will be broadcast internationally from Wembley Stadium, will be lucky if it breaks even.

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More than 63,000 people have already paid approximately $100 a piece to attend the concert, which will feature performances from such high-wattage stars as Elton John, Duran Duran, Fergie, Joss Stone, Pharrell, Lily Allen, and Kanye West. The event is also expected to draw several millions in additional revenue from broadcast rights and commemorative DVDS. While profits from the event were initially earmarked for such worthy charities as the National Aids Trust and the UK's Leprosy Mission, none of these charities has yet to receive a cent. In fact, organizers now acknowledge that the concert may not even cover its own costs.

Though the official website for the event lists several prominent charities and urges would-be concert goers to support them, the concert's organizers recently told London's Daily Mail that it is "designed principally not as a fundraising event but as a celebration of the life of Diana, Princess of Wales." Charities listed on the official website are guaranteed nothing except the option to buy ticket packages at the face-value rate of £45 per ticket. And while the site warns about the dangers of scalpers, that seems like the only way do-gooders can make a buck.

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How did such a sure-fire bet end up falling flat? In addition to sky-high production costs, event planners were forced to spend lavishly on backstage catering and a star-studded after-party. Though most of the performers declined their usual appearance fees, travel costs and expenses associated with of such a boldface coterie helped further push up expenses. In order to defray expenses for its after-party, concert organizers approached Pepsi, Moët, and Budweiser with sponsorship opportunities. Each of the companies declined.

"Any money that's going to be left over from the concert will be going to charity," says Alex Darling, a spokeswoman for London's LD Communications, which is organizing the event, tells But Darling acknowledges there are no guarantees.



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