Will he be a star or in stir?
April 24, 2001
CONTROVERSIAL rapper Eminem is due to top the bill at this year's Reading Festival but his appearance has been thrown into doubt as he faces two new gun-related charges.
Eminem - real name Marshall Mathers - is being paid a reported £2-3million to perform at Reading, Leeds and Glasgow over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
But he faces up to five years in prison after yesterday pleading "no contest" to two charges less than two weeks after he was sentenced to two years' probation for previous firearms offences.
The 28-year-old American rapper appeared in court in Michigan accused of carrying a concealed weapon and brandishing a firearm in public. Sentencing is scheduled for June 5.
The star was due to perform at the two-site Carling Weekend festival last year but had to pull out after he was banned from leaving the United States until he had appeared in court on the original gun charges.
It would be a bitter blow for festival organisers who believe Eminem to be the star attraction of the three-day event.
Mean Fiddler's Neil Pengelly told the Evening Post last night: "It was a bit of a coup to get Eminem this year. We were disappointed he could not come last year, but that was out of our hands."
If Eminem can make it, he will be joined on the Sunday main stage by fellow US shock-rocker Marilyn Manson and Queens of the Stone Age.
Travis kick off the event, headlining the main stage on Friday, August 24. Green Day and PJ Harvey share the stage. And the Manic Street Preachers will storm the main stage on the Saturday. Fun Lovin' Criminals and Supergrass - who return after a three-year absence - also blast the main stage. Other confirmed acts include Ash, Evan Dando, Mogwai, Teenage Fanclub, Mercury Rev and Stephen Malkmus.
But the event will have a lot to live up to after last year's festival, which featured Oasis, Stereophonics and Pulp and sold out in record time.
Said Mr Pengelly: "Last year was a real pinnacle. Everything ran very smoothly. But we are putting together a comparable bid. Eminem is the icing on the cake."
Mr Pengelly believes Reading will again prove more popular than its sister site Leeds this year.
He said: "Reading is about being able to see every band you would want to see every year. Tickets for the event, which runs from Friday, August 24 to Sunday, August 26, go on sale today. They cost £80 for the weekend with parking and camping, or £35 each day.