Madonna reportedly refuses to perform until her concert stages have been blessed by Kabbalah leader Rabbi Philip Berg. According to American gossip website The Scoop, the singer - an avid follower of the mystic branch of Judaism - is taking the Los Angeles-based Rabbi everywhere she travels on her current Re-invention Tour.
A source tells The Scoop: "He goes out there and chants and does his routine. He blessed Madison Square Garden. He blesses them all."
The source also claims Madonna gets special treatment when worshipping at LA's Kabbalah Centre, and sits behind a giant screen so other followers can't see her: "The men and the women sit separately, following Orthodox tradition. But Madonna sits in front, behind a screen so that people can't look at her. The place where she sits happens to be on the men's side."
Has anyone ever wondered what is it that celebrities prefer to wear underneath their kilt? Madonna gave the answer a few nights ago when she bared it all for the world to see on stage for her re-invention tour.
The revelation happened at New York's Madison Square when Madge whipped up her kilt to reveal a not-so-flattering pair of tartan bloomers displaying a large letter E. The reference was obviously to the hue and cry raised over her decision to change her name to Esther!
~ The fans who saw the show know better than the Sun Times: the 'E' hardly stands for Esther, but is part of a word, formed by Madonna and her dancers while lifting their kilts.
Two words Madonna never heard from director Tod Williams: You're hired!
The man behind the camera for the upcoming film "The Door in the Floor" met with Madonna and "just about every other actress in the world over 40," he says, for the coveted role of an older woman who seduces her teenage summer helper.
"Madonna really wanted to do the part," Williams said. "I wasn't really even considering her, but I called her in because I just wanted to meet Madonna."
So how was it? "It was a strange meeting," he says. "She asked me about techniques, how all the shots would happen in the movie."
Williams met with other A-listers, each of whom had their own problems with a role that includes seducing a teen, lots and lots of nudity and passionate lovemaking scenes. "I very seriously considered Kristin Scott Thomas," says Williams. "But she wouldn't even stand on the beach in a bathing suit in this film, let alone get naked."
He thought about Frances McDormand. "She really knows what the heck she's doing, but I wasn't sure about casting her. The part calls for someone who is stunningly beautiful." What about Susan Sarandon? "She's just so sexual to me," Williams says. "She owns her sexuality. She's connected to herself in that way. This character -- a mother grieving the loss of her child who has this affair -- isn't so sure of herself."
Sigourney Weaver was dubbed "interesting" by Williams. So was a Chicago legend. "Joan Allen is a great, great actress," Williams says. "But she didn't seem right." He liked Michelle Pfeiffer and Robin Wright Penn. "Both loved the script, but they were uncomfortable with the idea of sleeping with a young man."
Not so for Kim Basinger, who eventually got the coveted role and now is enjoying early Oscar buzz. "She was fearless during the nude scenes," says Williams. "Yes, she was scared of the darkness of this role, but because it scared her, she did it."
Our friend Rodrigo from MadoManiac is happy to announce the launch of the new MadoManiac TV:
"How about having an appointment made every week to watch through the screen the most important issues which made headlines on Madonna's everyday life. Enough of being up until the crack of dawn in front of your tv looking up for images and footages about the Material Girl, for Madomaniac Web Site, is about to do it for you.
The Madomaniac TV is coming soon, it will be a network, which is going to carry Tv shows through the web within a short time. At first, a MADOMANIAC TV will run a weekly news program of approximately half an hour time, bringing the most important stuff which where on the news around the globe the week before.
This project relies on the ambitious creativity of our newly-hired webdesigner Andrews Lopes who is the author of Wanessa Camargo's (Brazillian teen popstar) new website to be released next July 10th .
The people behind MADOMANIAC TV have already developed a project to show a video program amd other ones with interviews, and also a game show with an audience. You'll find some other news about the MADOMANIAC TV these days at our news section."
Pop queen Madonna has developed a saucy post-show ritual, she massages and bathes her director husband Guy Ritchie to help her unwind. The American Life singer - currently trekking around the world on her Re-invention Tour - admits she relies on her raunchy bathroom antics to help her get to sleep after her stage show.
She says: "Guy's waiting for me to come home and give him a massage. He talks to me in the bathtub, though. "That's my ritual. I come home and get in the bathtub and he talks to me."
Madonna gave the VIP guests at the launch party for her Re-invention world tour a gift with a personal touch - special cocktails cooled with Kabbalah water. The singer, who launched her tour in California last month, gave her special guests a drink called Damn, a mixture of gin and lemon-lime soda. But Madonna insisted that all of the ice cubes in the cocktail be made from pure Kabbalah water. Madonna has long been devoted to the Kabbalah, a mystical offshoot of Judaism.
For 20 years, Madonna has lived on the hype that she could effortlessly shape-shift into the latest and greatest pop-culture trendsetter. After all, she made crucifixes a hot fashion item, turned underground house music into the beat of a thousand high school proms and helped refashion the obscure tenets of the Kabbalah into a fetish as fashionable as Scientology.
"She's at the forefront of every new cultural psyche," says Marian Salzman, chief strategy officer for marketers Euro RSCG. "First she was talking about sex, then she was talking about respect. She reemerged in 2000 with yoga and by 2003, she was into electronica and hip-hop."
But as Madonna launches her new tour, there's something about her latest incarnation that's not quite in sync.
The writhing musical dominatrix in fishnets is selling children's books. She now expresses herself as a wife, mother, political activist, moral spokesmodel and yoga fanatic.
She's dubbed her new tour "Re-Invention" and packed it full of images that reflect her newfound identity. For Madonna's 2004 model, it could easily be the "Mixed-Message" tour. Many of her recent public moves have fallen as flat as her high notes.
Think about her highly touted tonsil hockey with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at last year's MTV Video Music Awards. It was meant to be outrageous and link the aging icon to the pop tarts of a new generation. But to many, it was one of the most cloying moves she ever made.
"It looked a little desperate," says Rachel Weingarten, president of youth-oriented GTK Marketing. "If she's trying to create the image of a comfortable, complacent mom, it sent another message to kiss a girl. It said, wait, you're not interesting enough anymore if you still have to create that kind of controversy."
What's shakiest about Madonna's current tour, however, is the fundamental lack of something she's always had - a hit. The title track of American Life was the album's only big single, and that barely cracked Billboard's Top 40, peaking at No. 37.
The album itself is the singer's least successful to date, reaching platinum status in three months, but stalling soon after. Even 2000's "Music" went double-platinum, and sold nearly three times as many copies worldwide.
That's largely because young people are the most avid record buyers and, Weingarten says, they see her as a "doyenne" who is "far from the epitome of hip."
The singer has tried to stay connected, but it's been something of an awkward fit. Can anybody really imagine Madonna heading to the mall to try on a pair of jeans?
"She wanted to stay relevant," says Morris Reid, managing director of the marketing agency Blue Fusion. "So she appeared in a GAP ad with Missy Elliott."
Perhaps that's why "Re-Invention," unlike previous tours, features so many of Madonna's classic hits, giving older fans what they've long clamored for. Except that they'll have to swallow the nostalgia with hefty doses of politics and religion.
"Madonna's dogmatic Kabbalah babble, political propaganda and 'Riverdance' moves are an utter bore to her hard-core fans," says Mary Spio, pop culture editor of One2One magazine.
"Going to a Madonna concert riddled with cryptic Hebrew texts and images of war is like going to a strip joint, only to find the strippers reading from the Book of Psalms," she adds.
The tour was initially billed as being sold out, but last week Clear Channel announced that a large block of tickets "in all price ranges" was still available for her New York shows.
The $305 price of the top tickets is another sign that spirituality hasn't altered Madonna's penchant for profit.
These days when she sings "I am a material girl," she likes to deflect her old image by saying "not anymore."
But the concert merchandise tables are filled with Kabbalah trinkets and her Web site hawks discounted copies of her kids' book "Mr. Peabody's Apples." Her new identity conveniently comes complete with a fully accessorized product line.
"She's always at the center of things changing," Salzman says. "And then she will make a business of it."
Graham Norton is just shooting a new series in the US for the cable station Comedy Central. He says working in America has always been his "pipe dream" and he's trying to track down celebrities willing to play along with his brand of humour.
"Madonna's my big get," he says, "but in the end, the Madonna I want is the Madonna from six years ago. Now she's a working mother of two. Everything's about Kaballah. I'm not sensing fun with a capital F."
The queen of pop has become the queen of ancient Persia - and she's got the Judaic trappings to prove it.
When Madonna - now also known as Esther (as in the Jewish queen who saved her people) - blows into town Sunday for the Boston leg of her Re-Invention Tour, she'll be schlepping more than the string of hits that made her 22-year career. She'll also be flashing the symbols of her newfound faith: Kabbalah, with a capital K, an offshoot of ancient Jewish mysticism.
The Hebrew letters lamed, aleph, vov (which together, as LAV, supposedly form one of the 72 names of God) will light up giant video screens behind Madge's dancing minions. A red string with seven knots (said to ward off the evil eye) will encircle the left wrist of the ex- (she says) Material Girl. A T-shirt reading "Kabbalists Do It Better'' will cling to her yoga-toned body.
Memories of tefillin - scripture-filled leather pouches worn during prayer, which Madonna uses in her music video Die Another Day - will hover over the turntable that spins center-stage. The house will be dark on Friday night and Saturday - the Jewish Sabbath.
What, we wondered, would local rabbis and scholars make of Madonna's Jewish routes?
None we asked questioned her intentions, though one did wonder whether she'd been drawn into the fold by the promise of immortality through potential DNA restructuring - a tenet, he'd heard, of the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre, where Madonna, 45, practices. The same kind of molecular magic, performed by Centre leader Philip Berg, is rumored to transform upstate New York spring water into healing pre-Flood Kabbalah H2O.
But the experts did marvel at her lack of scholarship. "I think she's a spiritual seeker and not just a faddist,'' said Arthur Green, professor of Jewish thought at Brandeis University and a Jewish-mysticism scholar. "She uses letters and they inspire her, and I have no objection to that. But I can't say there's any knowledge reflected there.''
Moshe Waldoks, rabbi of Temple Beth Zion, an Independent congregation in Brookline, was more skeptical. "It's a very strange phenomenon to get involved with the Kabbalah without getting involved with Judaism,'' he said. The Kabbalah Centre, which boasts 50 branches, including one in Newton Centre, proclaims on its Web site that "Kabbalah is about 'light' not religion!''
"I think one of the main issues that conventional Jewish leaders have with the Kabbalah Centre approach is that Kabbalah is historically and most traditionally something that was preserved for scholars who had achieved a fluency in rabbinic thought and literature,'' said William Hamilton, rabbi of the Conservative congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline.
Rabbi Hamilton has no problem with the letters LAV being projected on a screen, because, he said, it's "not one of God's names that cannot be erased,'' that is, one of the seven names that, when they appear on paper, can't be discarded because they have an "inherent sanctity.'' Rabbi Waldoks doesn't think most people will even be able to distinguish the letters from "pig Latin" or "a design."
The tefillin binding her arm in the music video are another matter. "That I'd be more critical of because I think that gets into perhaps other associations with leather straps and the like, and I don't even want to go there,'' said Rabbi Hamilton.
"A lot of people must think this is a bondage film,'' Waldoks cracked.
Though the pop icon's brand of worship doesn't appear to put much stock in the central Jewish principle of mitzvot (good deeds), said the experts, good can still come from her embrace of Kabbalah, which has attracted Jews and nonJews alike for hundreds of years.
"Kabbalah has always attracted very serious followers and trivial, superficial followers, because it makes promises that sound very close to magic, like rewards for study that are not always spiritual but sometimes good fortune and magical powers,'' said Green. "That is not at all the true meaning of Kabbalah, but the element has always been there. Madonna is turning out to be surprisingly serious in her orientation.''
"Often it's the nonJew that gets fascinated who brings Jews to re-examine,'' said Waldoks. "Madonna's interest might ignite more Jews to rediscover. Shabbat observance is not one of the top things Jews do. God works in mysterious ways."
Fans in the UK should tune into TOTP this Friday at 7.30pm on BBC1 to enter a very exciting Madonna competition...
Madonna is planning to tour holy places in Israel in October with a group of more than 100 students studying Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported today.
Madonna - who recently announced that she wants to be known by the name of the Jewish heroine "Esther" - has been deeply immersed in Kabbalah studies in recent years.
She now wears a red thread on her wrist, a common Jewish charm to ward off the evil eye. According to Maariv, Madonna decided to tour Israel with her fellow Kabbalah students after she recently cancelled a tour in the country.
London tabloids reported that Madonna called off the concert after letters from an unidentified Palestinian group threatened to kill her children.
Madonna's trip is planned to coincide with the Jewish New Year, Maariv reported.
She will reportedly stay in an out-of-the-way guesthouse and avoid fans and TV cameras so she will be able to focus on her Kabbalah studies, the newspaper reported.
~ Personally, i think this article deserves a big RUMOUR tag... don't get excited just yet.
It was reported earlier that the Lisbon concerts is suffering some problems because the venue isn't available for rehearsals and preparations the days before the concert. A religious organisation Mana Church, who had reserved the Atlantic Pavillion from September 8th till the 11th, refuses to move to another venue and seems to see this situation as a fight between Christ (Mana Church) and the Devil (Madonna). MadonnaTribemember Hanzo-San translated the following article that appeared in the Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha:
"One "fight between the Devil versus Christ". This is what the Maná Church, in the words of its creator, self-intitled apostle Jorge Tadeu, reacts to the pressures that allegedly have been made on the cult to modify the dates of the Convention of Faith 2004 - marked to take place between the 8th and the 11th of September in the Atlantic Pavilion -, in order to make possible the accomplishment of first show of Madonna in Portugal.
Madonna's debut in Portuguese stages is emerged in controversy. In an e-mail, the one that the "Correio da Manhã" (CM) had access the responsible person for the Church goes to the point to appeal to all the churches to put the disagreements and differences aside to be joined on behalf of Christ".
Having refused other dates and places to carry through its event and, therefore, accused of unyielding attitude and lack of compassion on the part of the fans of Madonna, the Maná Church faces the question now as a crusade between the good and the evil. "In our point of view God is moving the Maná Church/Church of Christ to knock down the Golias, King Nebucodonosor and the Fares.
We feel that the pressure of Madonna's promoter and management does not restrict itself to the Maná Church, it's a fight between Christ and the Devil", it is read in the mail subscript from Jorge Tadeu who manifests his repudiation in wanting to change "Jesus for Madonna".
It was in the past 6 of June that CM was made aware by Ricardo Casimiro, of the promoter company Tournée, that Madonna's concert, in the 12th of September, could not come to happen for non-availability of the place, since the immediately previous days were busy for the Convention of Faith of the Maná Church. As Casimiro said the assembly of show needs, however, three days which were promised verbally by the venue.
The Convention of Faith 2004, that designates itself the 20th anniversary of the Maná Church, brings to Portugal thousands of members from the whole world, for that in the last days CM has received hundreds from e-mails of the whole world manifesting the wish for the event to happen.. The controversy is lasting because both parts (and dates) continue to be announced officially in the websites of Maná Church and Madonna.
The Atlantic Pavilion, for its side, continues to affirm that it intends to honor both commitments. On the notice that Madonna's management could come to sue the Atlantic Pavilion, a source affirmed that such will not be happen anymore, since no signed legal contract between the two parts exists. CM tried, one more time, to hear statements from the Maná Church, but the same revealed itself unavailable at all times.
MANÁ MEMBERS REACTIONS
"... We parents do not want that our children become as Madonna, therefore her example we must censor. Our youth already has enough perversion to lose themselves... "
"... We want morality and decency for the future generations. Don't want them to be as the current one: liar, corrupt and greedy..."
"... Would like to express my disgust for what we're hearing in Brazil. What they intend to say with this? That Madonna is bigger than God?..."
"... What do they want? A world devastated by uncontrolled sex, prostitution and drugs...? When the placed of Church is put aside, the great black abyss of destruction will take over the World... "
"... The Maná Church is willing to release the dates of the commemoration of its 20 years of existence and God is bigger than any Madonnas of the World..."
"... I hope that the commitment assumed by the Pavilion with the Body of Christ is fulfilled. If it isn't, the credit and respectability that enjoys in the market will be truly shaken... "
A man who has been stalking Madonna was ejected from Madison Square Garden on the first two nights of the Material Mom's six-night run last week, The Post has learned.
On the first night of her "Reinvention" tour last Wednesday, security guards found the man just outside the arena and booted him, a Garden source said.
He had been identified from a photo handed out to all guards, according to the source. The next night, the stalker was kicked out of the building itself even though he had a ticket for the concert.
The source said the stalker has pestered the singer with calls to her office. Madonna's security guards alerted the NYPD, which got the Garden involved.
Madonna does not have an order of protection against the man, so Garden security was only able to eject him. He was not arrested.
"We will not comment on her security issues," said NYPD spokesman Detective Kevin Czartoryski.
A spokeswoman for Madonna could not be reached for comment.
It's not the first time Madonna has been scared by a stalker. In 1996, Robert Hoskins was sent to jail for 10 years for violent threats against the singer.
Madonna had testified that Hoskins rang the doorbell at her California home and said that "if he couldn't have me, he would slash my throat from ear to ear."
Yesterday, a police squad car escorted Madonna's three-car motorcade from the singer's Upper West Side apartment to the Garden. The motorcade wove through Midtown in an attempt to find a clear route to the arena. The traffic finally opened up when the squad car started flashing its lights and blaring its siren.
Police escorts for celebrities are not uncommon, a source said, but Czartoryski said that in this case, the NYPD was merely "assisting her move through traffic."
Still, it was hardly an isolated incident, the MSG source said: Madonna has had a similar escort on at least one other occasion during this tour. Tonight is the last show of Madonna's [NYC] run.
Queen of pop Madonna will dispel myths about her "eccentric lifestyle" in a new feature-length documentary which will debut at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.
The film, described as a sequel to 1991's 'Truth Or Dare,' will chronicle the Music singer's current Re-invention Tour and explains her controversial devotion to Kabbalah - a mystical offshoot of Judaism.
Director Jonas Akerlund, who has worked on the star's American Life and Ray Of Light videos, tells MTV that after each night's concert, he heads back to his hotel room to start editing, because the amount of footage he's collected so far is massive.
His crew admits that the hardest part is keeping up with the 45-year-old superstar, who seems to have endless amounts of energy to dance, do yoga and run.
~ In 1991, Truth Or Dare also premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.
Meath County Council today approved a licence for Madonna's Slane Castle concert on Sunday 29 August, but certain conditions have been attached. The concert has been given the go ahead, provided that it doesn't run past ten thirty at night and the audience has vacated the site by midnight.
Other conditions put a limit of 80,000 on the number of spectators at the gig and a levy of one Euro per ticket payable to Meath County Council. Lord Henry Mountcharles, the owner of Slane Castle, said he was delighted that the licence has been granted, and that the focus would be on ensuring minimum disruption to the village of Slane.
Madonna is casting a range of beauties to play Naoimi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford and Cgristy Turlington in a film- adaptation of a tell-all book about the supermodels. The 45-year-old superstar has acquired the film rights to Micheal Gross' revealing fashion industry tome Model.
David Brendal wrote the movie treatment for Madonna's Maverick Films, and the movie is expected to air on an American cable network next year (05). A range of other supermodels are expected to be included in the movie, including Sylvester Stallone's ex-girlfriend Janice Dickonson.
Madonna's Yakov and the Seven Thieves is the most visually magnificent of her three children's books, but the dreary and inappropriate story is lackluster and verbose. The luscious, wonderfully ornate illustrations, which convey a sense of 18th-century Ukraine, were created by the prolific and gifted Russian-born artist Gennady Spirin, who has illustrated 33 children's books and won a number of prizes.
Putting the name of the illustrator on the cover of a children's book is a traditional practice when the illustrator and writer are two different people.
Apparently, however, when one has an ego fatter than the onion domes topping Moscow's skyline, giving credit to others isn't part of the program. Spirin, like the illustrators of Madonna's previous two books, must settle for having his name listed on the book's title page.
Ego also plays a huge part in this moralistic tale. We're not talking about the ego of the characters. They are far too underdeveloped for that. It's the ego of Madonna, who apparently sees herself as destined to improve the world's moral tone.
The tale involves a dying little boy named Mikhail whose desperate father, the cobbler Yakov, and distraught mother, Olga, consult doctors but cannot find a cure. In desperation, Yakov visits a wise old man who claims that his prayers are powerful enough to pass through heaven's gates. When this doesn't happen, the old man has his grandson, Pavel, gather the village's pickpockets, thieves and other criminals. When this gang prays, the little boy miraculously recovers.
Unfortunately, Madonna violates several rules of children's literature, including don't be wordy and keep it appropriate. And parents will enjoy explaining the occupation of one particular character: an arsonist. Most of all, get off your high horse, Madame Morality. This tale is humorless and heavy-handed.
In fairness, Madonna did write an appealing children's book with her first, The English Roses, published in 2003.
She writes best when drawing upon personal experience. Roses effectively explored the difficult situation of being a motherless girl snubbed by her peers.
Her second book was weaker. Mr. Peabody's Apples addressed gossip and lies. A cloying stench of self-pity about the media's obsession with Mrs. Ritchie could be detected. Not that Madonna — or is it Esther, now that she has adopted a Hebrew name? — ever seeks the public's attention.
But this book, the third of five, is the worst. Dying children, prayers, criminals praying to open the gates of heaven. It's positively Grimm. Yakov will either bore or frighten children.
So if Madonna wants to jump-start her morality campaign, she could start with her own ego and at least put the illustrator's name on the cover of her next book.
With the release of her third children's book, Madonna's infatuation with Judaism just keeps on growing.
Yakov and the Seven Thieves follows on from the queen of pop's first two children's books, The English Roses and Mr. Peabody's Apples, which are both Kaballa-inspired international bestsellers.
"It's a story about how all of us have the ability to unlock the gates of heaven - no matter how unworthy we think we are," the star wrote in a statement released by the publisher.
Aimed at readers aged six and up, Yakov and the Seven Thieves is a 32-page hardcover with images by Gennady Spirin, an internationally revered artist.
Madonna's first book was set in contemporary England, and the second in post-World War II America. In Yakov and the Seven Thieves, she focuses on a small 18th-century town in Eastern Europe.
The book is the third of five to be published by Madonna. Her fourth, The Adventures of Abdi, will be released on November 8.
"Each book deals with issues that all children confront," wrote the singer. "Hopefully there is a lesson that will help kids turn painful or scary situations into learning experiences."
Madonna's involvement with the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Center is well-known and recently it has been reported that the star has decided to observe kashrut dietary restrictions, not to perform on Friday nights (Shabbat eve) and even adopted the Jewish name of "Esther."
Madonna might start singing, "Pope, Don't Preach."
The lapsed-Catholic diva has come under scrutiny from the Vatican because of her support of Kabbalah. The former Material Girl has become the world's highest-profile member of the Kabbalah Centre, a controversial offshoot of Judaism, and has even taken on the Jewish name Esther.
But now, the Vatican is holding a special summit with Catholic leaders from around the world, hammering out a way to deal with so-called "New Age" religions and fads that pose a "threat" to Christianity.
The council, which met last week, singled out "Kabbalah as espoused by Madonna" — as well as a number of other faddish religions, according to a report.
"In the past, the Pope has criticized Madonna for the contents of her concerts," says cult expert Rick Ross, who has closely followed the activities of the Kabbalah Centre. "Now, ironically, it's become a theological issue."
When Lorne Cousin received a voicemail from Madonna on his home phone asking him to call her, the Edinburgh lawyer thought his friends were playing a practical joke.
So the 31-year-old got the surprise of his life when the very same global megastar answered the return call and invited him to play his bagpipes on stage with her during the artist's five month Reinvention world tour.
For months Mr Cousin was ordered to remain quiet about the exciting proposal - even suffering a scare when news reports mistakenly said another Scottish piper had been chosen to play on the tour.
However, following reassurances from Madonna that she wanted the 6ft 1in lawyer to star in her shows until October, Mr Cousin has now taken leave from his job with Edinburgh law firm Turcan Connell to appear on stage with the world famous singer.
One of Scotland's top pipers, Mr Cousin, from Campbeltown, Kintyre, was spotted by Madonna when he played at Stella McCartney's wedding on Bute last year. His father Alastair, who is a vet, became a friend of the McCartney family after years tending to their animals.
Speaking from New York last night, Mr Cousin, who lives in Broughton, Edinburgh, said he was having "great fun" after completing 14 dates and said it was the "best thing" he had ever done.
Another of Scotland's top pipers - Callum 'Spud' Fraser, from Aviemore - was reportedly upset last month when he learned he had failed to make Madonna's performer line-up after being approached earlier in the year. Some media reports had named him as the piper that Madonna wanted, which in turn had caused Mr Cousin to be alarmed.
"I feel very sorry for him (Callum Fraser) because I know how he feels, as I was worried when I saw him in the newspapers andon TV as Madonna's piper when I thought I was doing it. I phoned Madonna's agent straight away and was reassured that it was a red herring and that they still did want me," said Mr Cousin.
"When Madonna first called me I said I would have to think about it as I had a job, so her agents approached other pipers while I was deciding what to do. That's where the mix-up happened.
"I will contact him to say ‘no hard feelings' because I genuinely feel sorry for him."
After spending ten days rehearsing in the US in March, Mr Cousin flew out in May for the first gig at the Forum in Los Angeles. He plays a four-minute piece of Scottish music, which he composed especially for the 90-minute concerts. The tune links two songs near the end of the concerts, which have a Scottish theme.
He then returns and dances while pretending to play the pipes.
Mr Cousin also responded to a Scottish tabloid article which was critical of his dancing, and called into question the authenticity of his Highland attire. He said: "I was pretty upset when I read I was "jumping around the stage like a peat-bog fairy".
"Madonna added the dancing bit, and at first I was worried about it and said I couldn't dance. I agree I wouldn't be able to play while dancing - that is just the fun bit at the end after I play a few songs earlier. Also, comments about the length of my kilt were annoying. It was artistic licence on Madonna's behalf because she likes longer kilts, and I don't think it is an affront to Scottish culture.
"The American crowds have been loving the Scottish element to the shows, and are now coming to the concerts wearing kilts."
Mr Cousin is playing 32 dates in the US and Canada and 15 shows in Europe in front of over 750,000 fans during the tour.
He added: "It is so exciting when you're waiting to go on and you can hear 20,000 people screaming. It certainly beats rural conveyancing.
"They go crazy when I come on, and luckily I haven't made a mistake yet. Although the rehearsals are tiring, I am loving it and think it is the best thing I have done. It is also great living in five-star hotels all the time and when we go nightclubbing they phone ahead and we get to jump the queue. Madonna is great to work with. She is strict but in a good way, as she pays great attention to detail."
Mr Cousin started practising every night from the age of seven using his grandfather's bagpipes, and has played in dozens of competitions.
Douglas Connell, joint senior partner at Turcan Connell, said: "An opportunity of this magnitude does not present itself every day and we are absolutely delighted to support Lorne in this venture. I am sure he will prove to be a very worthy ambassador for both Turcan Connell and Scotland."
She's off again - for her "Re-invention Tour" (from May 24th to September 5th), Madonna, the uncontested queen of pop and fashion icon always at the cutting edge of the trend, will be revealing her best assets.
This time the singer approached CHANEL, and Karl Lagerfeld designed two fringed bodysuits in a music-hall singer style - one in black and white stripes, the other in red and black. His comment was, "I love Madonna. She is a source of inspiration for us all - always ready to be transformed. Who could refuse to work with her?"
The items have been designed in a stretch fabric to accommodate the star's body movements, embroidered with some 200 000 sequins, each one set in place individually using a hook!
An amazing achievement that took more than 250 hours of work by the nimble fingers in the Haute Couture workshops. In all, three copies of each of the two outfits have been made, to make allowance for the little accidents that are likely to occur in the course of a six-month tour.
~ Naturally, the tour doesn't stop on september 5th; they obviously hadn't heard of Arnhem and Lisbon yet. On the other hand, how did they get the idea of '6 months'?...
Who can a star rely on to create a spiritually enlightened, Pilates-inspired, military-saluting, career-extending international road show? Jamie King has created pop spectaculars for Prince, Ricky Martin, Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez. Still, directing and choreographing Madonna's Reinvention Tour, which opened here late last month, made all his previous assignments look easy.
By the time it completes its three-month run, with 55 concerts in the United States, Canada and Europe, it is expected to gross $120 million. Mr. King, 32, has worked with Madonna since she asked him to choreograph her video for Human Nature in 1996. He recently talked with Valerie Gladstone.
VALERIE GLADSTONE: Describe how you and she come up with ideas.
JAMIE KING: We've been working together for a long time, so we don't have to go through the whole introductory process. It's more like "Jamie, I saw this Ninja movie, and it was cool, and it might be cool to do something like that on tour." Or, "My kids have been watching 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,' maybe we could do something like the dance with bamboo sticks from that as a transition into Into the Groove."
GLADSTONE: What happens when you disagree?
KING: We had one major disagreement. Only a few weeks ago, I told her I thought she should replace a song she had already relearned with Material Girl. She'd spent a lot of time learning the other song on the guitar. She'd also said publicly that she would never sing Material Girl again. So I had to convince her that it was a bigger hit and worked much better at the end of a particular sequence.
GLADSTONE: Were you worried that the song wouldn't go over?
KING: If the audience hadn't responded enthusiastically, I'd never have heard the end of it.
GLADSTONE: What did you do after choosing the 12 dancers?
KING: I set up four rooms in the Culver City Studios: the band room where Madonna worked on the songs with the musical director and the musicians; the choreography room where we developed the dances; the technical room, where I had the theatrical props, like the swings for the acrobatic dances. That's also where we rehearsed the fire handling and rifle choreography and skateboarding. In another room, I had the entire stage taped out to scale with mock screens and elements of the set, all made of wood. Madonna wants to know exactly what everything will actually look like in materials as close to the finals as possible.
GLADSTONE: The show has a variety of dance styles: tango, popping, a Scottish bagpipe procession and something called the krump. What's the krump?
KING: Madonna likes me to bring her the newest thing. The krump is very in-your-face, very angry and confrontational, with the arms spread wide in a threatening manner. My dancers told me about it. It looks like you're fighting. It's a way for kids in tough neighborhoods to express their aggression, without really fighting. That's what she and I like about it.
A Britney Spears concert T-shirt might cost 20 to 30 dollars but despite their exorbitant price-tag Material girl, Madonna's T's are a hot favorite amongst her fans.
According to New York Post, while her black "Re-Invention Tour" tank top costs 85 dollars, a rhinestone studded T-shirt is for 119.95 dollars on her Madonnatourstore.com Web site.
According to Lee Tepper, co-founder of MerchDirect, a New York City music and entertainment merchandiser, "If you correlate music with fashion, Madonna would be Versace or Dolce and Gabbana. Eighty-five dollars is a little high, but if Madonna can get it and someone's willing to pay for it, she'll do it because she can."
However, Madonna's spokeswoman, Liz Rosenberg, said, "I think in the case of Madonna's stuff, the quality is a bit better and the shirts are more creative and interesting, because she's very good at that."
"Some were printed using a special technique, some are double-layered, some can be worn inside and outside. The price differential is based on something that an $85 shirt might have that a $35 shirt might not have," she added.
Madonna is set to earn at least €2m from her first Irish gig at Slane Castle this August. Over 56,000 tickets were sold within the first 24 hours, with fans spending over €5m on tickets so far.
This figure has broken all box office gross receipts records and single day sales records for any event this year. Over €3.5m worth of tickets were sold in the first five hours, with an individual ticket costing €88.50. Madonna plays Slane Castle in Co Meath on August 29.
Tickets for the Slane concert, scheduled for August 29, went on sale this morning. No less than 30.000 tickets sold out in half an hour. Is there still any critic claiming the ticket sale for this tour is going poorly?
Supporting acts for Slane are Paul Oakenfold, The Darkness, Iggy & The Stooges, with more to be announced soon.
Madonna today compared US President George Bush to deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The 45-year-old pop star said the two men were 'alike' because they both behaved 'in an irresponsible manner'. Madonna made the comments during an interview in which she tried to draw a line under her wild days, vowing to be 'part of the order, not the chaos, of the world'.
Madonna's current Re-Invention tour carries a strong anti-war message and her recent video for the song American Life was clear in its opposition to the Iraq conflict. In the final scene of the video, a President Bush lookalike kisses Saddam on the cheek.
"I don't want to equate George Bush with Saddam Hussein. But I believe that George Bush and Saddam Hussein are both behaving in an irresponsible manner. So, in that respect, they're alike," Madonna said. She added that she decided not to release the pop video last year as America prepared for war because there was a 'lynch-mob' patriotism sweeping the country at the time.
"I have children to protect and I just didn't think it was the right time," she said.
Speaking to ABC, Madonna also sought to complete her transfer from erotic provocateur to spiritually fulfilled mother and wife. She said she wanted to 'be more liberated from my ego' but admitted she still has 'a long way to go'.
"Once you enter the popularity sweepstakes, which you do when you become famous... you enter the world of 'How am I doing? How's my ratings? Where am I in the 50 most beautiful people poll?'," she said.
But she regretted her past wild behaviour. "The stance of a rebel is 'I don't care what you think'. But if it's just for the sake of upsetting the apple cart, you're not really helping people. You turn the apple cart over and then what? Then everyone's looking at an apple cart that's turned over and they're like, well, now what do I do?"
Madonna's latest transformation means her days of shedding her clothes on stage or in front of the camera are also over. "I thought I was liberating mankind but, like I said, I wasn't really offering an alternative.
To a certain extent I was saying 'Look, you know, why do men only get the job of objectifying women in a sexual way? I want to do it too.' There was an element of that, but there was also an element of being an exhibitionist and saying 'Look at me.' It wasn't that altruistic. I can admit that."
She added: "I choose to look at myself as a person who's now awake and a person who's now trying to be part of the order, not the chaos, of the world."
Now she loves being a wife and mother, free from the days when she 'just ripped through relationships'. Sean Penn, Dennis Rodman and Warren Beatty were among her former lovers.
She is very different from her husband, film director Guy Ritchie, who is 'always trying to recapture his youth'. "He did so many fun things as a child that he still loves to do," she said. "And I don't. I'm not interested in recapturing my childhood at all.""
As for her own children, Madonna says she see a lot of herself in her seven-year-old daughter Lourdes, adding: "Girls are so clever – more clever than boys. I see myself in her and, you know, sometimes I'm repulsed and sometimes I just want to put my arms around her.""
Her relationship with four-year-old son Rocco is less complicated. "You have a son. It's just, it's just love. They can do no wrong," she said.
And her life has been enhanced through her study of 13th century Jewish mysticism called Kabbalah. Other stars, including Demi Moore and Britney Spears, are also said to be followers but Madonna insisted she was not jumping on a celebrity bandwagon. "I'm very serious about it,""she said.
In excerpts of the interview released earlier this week, Madonna – who was named after her mother – said wanted to be called Esther as part of her following of Kabbalah.
"My mother died when she was very young, of cancer, and I wanted to attach myself to another name. This is in no way a negation of who my mother is. I wanted to attach myself to the energy of a different name," she said.
The name of Madonna's latest tour, Re-Invention, states the obvious but poses a question. The singer is well-known for her multiple personas, but what exactly is her latest reinvention?
It's been 22 years since Madonna released her first single, a lightweight dance tune called Everybody. Subsequently, she's become a household name by taking on a dizzying number of roles, including pop superstar, fashion trendsetter, feminist icon, feminist enemy, music-industry powerhouse, sometime actress, and mother.
But has Madonna reinvented herself into a corner? At 45, she's recovering from yet another failed film (2002's Swept Away) and lukewarm sales of her latest album, American Life. Artists half her age, such as Britney Spears, are copying pages from her playbook and courting a new generation of teen girls.
Madonna's attempts to sidle up to Spears -- locking lips on last year's MTV Video Music Awards and recording a breathy duet called "Me Against the Music" -- seemed to boost the younger starlet's career more than the veteran's. And Madonna's tour is more a retrospective than a reinvention, relying mostly on retooled past hits and familiar personas.
Madonna is touring at the same time as two other shape-shifting performers: David Bowie and Prince. Neither, however, has managed Madonna's latest feat: an eight-night run in the New York City area, which started Wednesday, with six dates at Madison Square Garden and two at Continental Airlines Arena. Madonna's tour will likely become the year's highest grossing, expected to pull in about $120 million, according to Billboard magazine.
"What's driving the train on this tour is that she announced she would do a career retrospective," says Ray Waddell, senior touring editor at Billboard. "Her fans always perceive her as cutting-edge, but that doesn't mean they don't want to go back and review her best moments."
Madonna has plenty of moments to review, many of which had a lasting effect on popular culture. Initially, she seemed like little more than a pretty face, but her 1983 debut album, "Madonna," yielded a string of Top 40 hits with "Holiday," "Borderline" and "Lucky Star." The music was a simple mix of disco and pop, but there was another ingredient to Madonna's success: MTV, then a 2-year-old cable network hungry for new music videos.
"She was one of the first artists who really saw the true value of video," says Rick Krimm, an MTV executive from 1985 to 1994 and now vice president of music programming at VH1. "Even the old videos from the first record, which were nothing groundbreaking, really projected a strong image of who she was at the time."
It was primarily Madonna's wardrobe that grabbed viewers' attention. Along with the teased hair and rubber bracelets came a couple of fashion shockers: a high-cut shirt showing off the midriff and a bare shoulder revealing a length of bra strap. That gave birth to an entire generation of imitators whom the press dubbed "Madonna wanna-bes." Macy's even opened shops called Madonnaland long before it became the norm for musicians to start their own clothing lines.
Madonna's willfully slatternly outfits flew in the face of convention, recalls Nicole White, a 41-year-old Long Beach, N.Y., resident who was a fan during those early years. Particularly startling was that famous "Boy Toy" belt-buckle, she says. "It was, like, 'You choose that?' Up until then, girls didn't really choose. You were labeled a slut if you did. And she sort of didn't care. And that made it OK."
Madonna's next album, Like a Virgin, raised even more eyebrows. "In 1984, to sing 'Like a virgin, touched for the very first time' might not seem like a big deal now," says Jeremy Rice, program director at WBLI/ 106.1 FM in Babylon, N.Y. "But in the Reagan years," when few mainstream artists were addressing sexuality so frankly, "it was totally controversial."
For her performance on that year's MTV Music Video Awards (the network's first), Madonna wore a lingerie wedding gown while writhing around on the floor. That set the tone for her 1985 tour, in which she gyrated suggestively with several male dancers. Like Michael Jackson, whose star was rising around the same time, Madonna packaged her music with stylish, sexualized dancing, setting a standard for teen-oriented pop acts and boy bands for years to come.
What followed was a Madonna media blitz that rarely let up over the next two decades. Throughout, Madonna lived through scandals (often of her own making) that would have ruined other stars but only served to boost her reputation, says Mark Bego, author of the biography "Madonna: Blonde Ambition" (Cooper Square Press, $18.95).
Penthouse magazine, for instance, published nude photos of Miss America Vanessa Williams in 1984, then ran similar pictures of Madonna a year later, Bego recalls. The result: Williams had her crown taken away, but for Madonna, "it was like throwing gasoline on a fire."
In her 1989 video for Like a Prayer, Madonna wore a black slip while dancing around in a church, prompting an outcry from fundamentalist Christians. Pepsi, which had been using the song in commercials, dropped it as threats of a boycott mounted.
Then came her 1992 book "Sex," a collection of graphic photographs that delved into sexual taboos such as body piercings, homoeroticism and mild bondage. Reviewers considered "Sex" a grievous lapse in taste (one photo featured Madonna kneeling naked over a mirror), but the book sold a respectable 1.5 million copies. And the publicity was priceless.
All of which are lessons Spears has clearly learned. Her risque stage shows, nearly nude photos on magazine covers and constant talk of sex during interviews have kept her continuously in the public eye.
"Although Britney has evolved, the provocative dress and stage movements, the basis for those is Madonna," says Bob Buchmann, program director of WAXQ/104.3 FM in New York. "In fact, the basis for the entire corporation that drives the marketing behind Britney is Madonna. It's a whole philosophy."
What made Madonna more than just an oversexed entertainer was the debate she sparked among feminists, academics and parents: Was her overt sexuality empowering or exploitative? Was she a role model for young women or a bad influence? "Nobody got it then, and they still don't get it," says Debbie Stoller, editor of the feminist magazine Bust. "Madonna takes the image of a sexy woman and invests it with some power, so it's not just something to be consumed by people watching her," she explains. "It's always about how much she is in control."
Contrast that to Spears, who until recently claimed to be a virgin although her songs and dance moves were highly erotic. "It's that old double standard that women can be understood to be sexy, but they can't be understood to be having sex," says Stoller. "Britney just totally goes along with that program. There's nothing ironic or innovative in what Britney does."
Eventually, Madonna became more than just a successful entertainer -- she also established herself as a businesswoman. In 1992, she signed a reported $60 million deal with Time Warner Inc. to establish her own label, Maverick Records, which became one of the few vanity labels to produce a roster of successful artists, including Alanis Morissette and Michelle Branch.
Though Warner now contends in a lawsuit that Maverick lost money, Madonna set an example for other female performers to take control of their careers and set up businesses beyond merely recording and touring.
The one place Madonna seemed to falter, however, was in Hollywood. Though she landed a Golden Globe for best actress (for a musical or comedy) for her title role in 1996's Evita, her list of cinematic flops is a long one, including Shanghai Surprise (with then-husband Sean Penn), Dick Tracy (with then-boyfriend Warren Beatty) and, most recently, Swept Away (directed by husband Guy Ritchie). The last fared so poorly that Columbia TriStar never even released it in England, Ritchie's native country and Madonna's new second home.
The failed films have a common factor, says Bego: They were made with or by powerful Hollywood men. "She has trouble being directed. She has a vision, and a very strong vision of what she ought to be doing."
These days, Madonna's vision seems a little fuzzy. In her video for the song American Life, she wore military fatigues and lobbed a grenade at a George W. Bush look-alike. It was one of the few times Madonna followed fashion rather than leading it: Many designers already had developed military-style outfits by the time Madonna made her video. And in a rare move to avoid controversy, she pulled the video from MTV.
Radio also stayed away from the song, an uncomfortable mix of synth-pop and sociopolitical rapping. "It was a total flop," says Jeremy Rice, program director of WBLI/106.1 FM in Babylon. "When we put it on the air here, we got negative calls right away."
It may be that Madonna's wildest years are behind her. Now a mother of two, she's penned two hit children's books, "The English Roses" and "Mr. Peabody's Apples." A third, "Yakov and the Seven Thieves" will be released Monday. Two more books are also planned as well are a line of merchandise, including dolls, apparel and school supplies. (She may have even started yet another trend: Musician Billy Joel also is writing a children's book.)
And the woman whose videos once infuriated the Catholic church has discovered spirituality in the form of Kabbalah, a mystical Jewish philosophy. Here, too, she's been imitated: Celebrities such as Demi Moore, Paris Hilton and, yes, Spears all have dabbled in Kabbalah symbolism.
Madonna's triumphant tour may prove that she's still writing pop-culture history. At 45, she's making albums, dancing on stages and stirring almost as much publicity as ever. That's unusual for an older female rocker, says Buchmann.
"Madonna seems to be following in the footsteps of older male rock stars," he says. "Look at the guys from Aerosmith, or Keith Richards and Jagger. People make fun of their age, but everybody comes to Madison Square Garden to see them play. I'm not so sure most women could do that."
Call her Esther: That's the Hebrew name Madonna has chosen for herself as a follower of Kabbalah.
"I was named after my mother. My mother died when she was very young, of cancer, and ... I wanted to attach myself to another name," the singer says in an interview on ABC's "20/20," airing at 10 p.m. EDT Friday. "This is in no way a negation of who my mother is ... I wanted to attach myself to the energy of a different name."
During the interview, Madonna wears the red string around her wrist that's a symbol of the Jewish mysticism, though she wears it beneath her watch. She says she's sensitive when critics suggest her interest in Kabbalah is just a trend.
"I'm a little bit irritated that people think that it's like some celebrity band wagon that I've jumped on, or that, say, somebody like Demi (Moore) has jumped on," the 45-year-old says. "We don't take it lightly. ...
"Paris Hilton did come to the Kabbalah Centre once, because her parents brought her ... and they wanted to help her and they were desperate and they brought her there and she had a meeting and she left and she never came back and suddenly, Paris Hilton studies Kabbalah. I mean that's what happens and people ... they don't know the whole story."
Michael Moore has got Madonna's vote — she urged fans during her concert Wednesday night at New York's Madison Square Garden to go see his provocative new film, "Fahrenheit 9/11."
In what seemed to be a genuine, unscripted moment, the singer told the audience — which included the filmmaker himself — that she had just seen the film and that it had really affected her. Moore had screened the film to a crowd of celebrities and members of the press on Monday at New York's Ziegfeld Theater.
"I don't think I've ever cried so hard at a movie in my life," Madonna said during a break in her performance. "And I'm sure I still have a lot to learn from it."
Madonna also acknowledged Moore's presence and thanked him for making the film, which opens in New York on Wednesday and nationwide on June 25.
"Not only is it inspiring and educating, but it's proof that people can make a difference, that we can make a difference," she said. "So, Michael, I know you're out there tonight, and I just wanted to publicly thank you for sticking your neck out, for going against the establishment, for giving us the hope."
Madonna had originally tried to create a controversial statement against the war in Iraq herself, via her American Life video, which was first edited and then withdrawn because she had feared it could be deemed inappropriate at the time.
The idea survives in her live set, when she flashes stark images of war on various screens behind her, and her dancers dress like soldiers during the performance of that song. She also covers John Lennon's peace song Imagine during her set.
See the Material Girl in concert in the city of your choice! Party in the pit and be front and center for Madonna's shocking new tour. Enter now! One grand prize winner will receive: two pit passes for a re-Invention show of choice. Participants must by American residents of 18 years or older.
Our friend Rodrigo, president of the Brazilian fan club Madomaniac, has confirmed us the dates for this year's MadWeek. Just like last year, this second edition will be a full week of Madonna mania in Brazil. The event takes place from the 16th till the 25th of July and has the re-Invention tour and 20 years Madonna as themes. You can find more details on the great fansite Madomaniac (in Portuguese).
She was in the pages of Playboy, published her own book on sex, and kissed Britney Spears in a live stage performance, but Madonna tells ABC News' 20/20 she may be through with propelling her celebrity with sex.
"I did spend at least a decade taking my clothes off and being photographed, saying bad words on TV and that sort of thing. … I don't regret it, but it's just, you know — I mean everybody takes their clothes off now. And then what? You know? And then what?"
After two decades as one of the most controversial and famous women in the world, the queen of re-invention is rethinking her private life as well as her public life.
After a string of stormy affairs and a failed marriage to actor Sean Penn, Madonna married filmmaker Guy Ritchie in 2000. The couple have one child together, 4-year-old Rocco. And Madonna has a daughter from a relationship with her former trainer Carlos Leon.
"I just ripped through relationships, in a willy-nilly, completely selfish, what's in it for me? OK, this isn't serving me anymore. I'm out of here. You know what I mean?"<
These days, Madonna says she's happily settled into married life and motherhood and seems to be putting family before fame.
Billboard reports the top grossing concerts of the week. Madonna is listed 4 times in the top 10, including the top 3 spots. Prince, The Eagles, Britney and Eric Clapton complete the rest of the top 10.
Ticketmaster Ireland is gearing up for the expected huge demand for tickets for Madonna's first ever Irish concert at Slane Castle when tickets go on sale this Friday morning. Ticketmaster will have an extra 250 staff on duty to take calls from fans when the lines open at 8.00 am on Friday.
Tickets priced 88.50 (including booking fee) are limited to 6 per person and go on sale from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide or 24hr hotlines: Tel: (ROI) 0818 719 300 (NI) 0870 243 4455 or Buy Online @ www.ticketmaster.ie
Already Ticketmaster has been inundated with thousands of calls from fans about Madonna's long-awaited Irish debut at Slane Castle on August 29th when the Queen of Pop will perform all her greatest hits.
''We are expecting a massive demand for Madonna tickets'', explained Mr Eamonn O'Connor, Managing Director, Ticketmaster Ireland, ''This concert has been talked about for years and now Madonna is finally coming there is real excitement amongst fans.''
He added: ''We are bringing in extra staff to man the phones and oversee the internet site while Ticketmaster outlets around the country will also be open from 8am. We expect to be very very busy because everyone wants to see Madonna.''
Amongst the special preparations being made by Ticketmaster are:
1. Extra capacity on Internet lines
2. Extra capacity on telephone lines
3. Extra personnel
4. No queuing allowed at Ticketmaster outlets before 7am on Friday
5. Security arrangements at key Ticketmaster outlets
Promoter recommends that persons under 18 are accompanied by a parent or guardian over 21 years.
~ A first series of Slane tickets - out on ICON presale earlier today - reportedly sold out in... 3 minutes! Eat this, New York Post!
Madonna is getting the hang of this kiddie book thing.
Yakov and the Seven Thieves (Callaway Editions) is the third instalment of Madonna's five-book series for the publisher and it's the best, mostly because there is nothing Material Girl-ish about it. (Her first book, the rather boring The English Roses, focused on a catty group of girls illustrated in a very fashion-forward manner.)
The fairy-tale artwork in Yakov, by Russian painter Gennady Spirin, brings authenticity to the story about a sick boy, desperate dad and wise old man in an eastern European village in the 18th century.
Madonna, who cites the influence of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, in all her books, says Yakov was inspired by the Baal Shem Tov, a Ukrainian teacher.
"It's a story about how all of us have the ability to unlock the gates of heaven -- no matter how unworthy we think we are. For when we go against our selfish natures, we make miracles happen, in our lives and in the lives of others," Madonna writes on the cover jacket.
While that's an exaggeration of how important and symbolic this book really is, the story moves along nicely and gets its message about redemption across without being too preachy. It's also appropriately written for its target audience of six-year-olds.
Yakov is the father of Mikhail, who is literally on his death bed. With few options left, Yakov goes to visit the mysterious old man who lives on the outskirts of the village and is rumoured to perform miracles. Unfortunately, the old man's first attempt to help the boy fails. He has an idea, though, to ask all the town's thieves, pickpockets and criminals to put their rather unusual talents toward a good cause.
Of course, being a children's picture book, there is a happy ending with a healthy Mikhail and reformed rascals.
And, it's worth noting that the only female scoundrel, Petra the Pickpocket, bears a striking resemblance to Madonna herself.
Madonna, the master of self-invention, has come a long way since her "Material Girl" days. While she has no regrets about her moves on her climb to pop diva status, she tells ABC News' 20/20, "I brought a lot of chaos to people's lives, because of my selfish behavior."
In her latest incarnation, the wife, mother, children's book author and still-touring pop star says the ruling philosophy in her home is "pick up your s--t."
Madonna may have made a career on rebellion, irreverence and sexually charged performance, but when it comes to her children, manners are important. "Even my children have to clean up their mess, clean up their rooms. Manners, thank you, please, take your dishes to the sink. I mean … gratitude, being grateful, that is, that has to happen … If it's traditional to be a decent human being, then I'm traditional," she told ABC News' Cynthia McFadden.
Madonna married film director Guy Ritchie in 2000. They have a son together, 4-year-old Rocco, and Madonna has a 7-year-old daughter, Lourdes, whose father is Madonna's former personal trainer, Carlos Leon.
Madonna says her favorite aspect of getting older is "getting smarter" and gives a rare glimpse of her private life with Ritchie. She tells McFadden she believes the key step to a successful marriage is "learning to apologize." She also shares one of the couple's daily rituals, saying that after her grueling performances, she goes in the tub and her husband talks to her about the day.
Madonna also speaks candidly with McFadden about her study of Jewish mysticism known as Kabbala, which she believes is "incredibly punk rock" and anti-establishment.
"Kabbalists believe in immortality. They believe that you can overcome death, overcome illness, whatever, so, it's … incredibly good to be a rebel," she said.
Madonna also reveals that she has also taken on the Hebrew name of Esther, explaining that, "I was named after my mother. My mother died when she was very young, of cancer, and I wanted to attach myself to another name."
"This is in no way a negation of who my mother is. I wanted to attach myself to the energy of a different name."
Madonna also discusses her third and latest foray into children's literature, Yakov and the Seven Thieves, which hits bookstores June 21.
Madonna has dedicated the book to "naughty children everywhere," saying that, "Even the naughtiest person in the world, big or small, has the capability to do something good in the world."
Describing herself as "naughty child, number one," she espouses the power of prayer. "I pray every day and I believe that it is a very powerful way to communicate, to heal, to affect change."
20/20 will also air exclusive footage from Madonna's Reinvention tour, which comes to New York City's Madison Square Garden today.
Maybe Madonna's Re-Invention Tour needs a little retooling. Thousands of tickets are still available for the Material Mom's six-night stand at Madison Square Garden that begins tonight many at cut-rate prices. Late yesterday, Ticketmaster, the official retail outlet for Madonna concert tickets, had seats in all price ranges ($50 to $300) for all six nights.
And some ticket brokers who usually offer seats at a premium were desperately trying to clear their bloated inventories with discounts of up to 30 percent off face value. "We're losing money on these tickets," said one broker offering deep discounts.
"The bottom line is she's doing too many shows." Besides the six MSG shows, the 45-year-old musical artist has two shows slated for Continental Airlines Arena across the Hudson in New Jersey next month as part of her 19-city world tour.
"Tickets are selling well, but not as well as anticipated," said Michael Issac, president of broker Preferred Ticket.com. "Three years ago was a much stronger tour." That tour, Drowned World, "was a whole other ballgame," Issac said. While his agency isn't discounting tickets for this stand, the last tour drew prices "five times" the current stand.
A broker at greattickets.com said the phone was ringing off the hook, but not for Madonna for the NBA's Detroit Pistons, who are close to winning the league championship series from the Los Angeles Lakers.
"Her public opinion might be shifting," said the broker, who did not want to be identified. A few brokers remained optimistic yesterday, offering $300 second row center seats for tonight for up to $1,700. And a $300 front row center seat for Sunday's performance was offered for $2,400.
Front row seats for tonight may not be available through Ticketmaster, but as of last night, $300 tickets on the floor in Row L were available for face value plus the usual processing fees. The show was initially reported sold out, but last week hundreds of tickets were released as more seats became available after the stage was set up.
Liz Rosenberg, Madonna's publicist, said she's not worried. She remained confident that tonight's show will "absolutely" sell out. "A lot of people know that last-minute tickets are available," says Rosenberg. She's doing well nationally. According to Pollstar, the first 10 shows averaged $2.6 million in ticket sales, selling more than 136,000 tickets over 10 shows in four cities. The average ticket price is $175.
The tour is on track to be the top-grossing tour of 2004, with a gross in the $120 million range and attendance of about 920,000. "New York has always been an exceptional market for Madonna," says Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of Pollstar. "It's hard to believe she's not selling tickets. It could be she held back tickets, and people are just finding out."
Meanwhile cable channel Trio TV is having a little fun at Madonna's expense, hosting three Madonna silver-screen bombs at the Loews Theater on 34th Street. The schedule: Who's That Girl, tonight; Body of Evidence next Wednesday, and Swept Away, on June 29.
~ In fact, the tour management has released more tickets to cut prices of ticket brokers. After all, it should be about fans having the chance to see their idol in concert at a reasonable price, and not about ticket brokers making profit out of it! We all followed the ticket sales and the reviews and know that this tour hardly needs "retooling".
The fantastic comics Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders have done a hilarious parody on the GAP commercial and the Me Against The Music video. You can download it at MadonnaPause (Media > Video section).
Today, June 16th at 9am EST there will be a ICON presale for the Manchester (Aug. 14) and Slane (Aug. 29) concerts. Only existing ICON members can benefit from this presale. More info at the ICON website.
Madonna will appear on US television ABC for an interview with Cynthia McFadden.
EXCLUSIVE: Cynthia McFadden sits down with the queen of self-reinvention, Madonna, who's got a lot to say about faith, family values, growing older — and wiser." This Friday at 10 p.m. on ABC's 20/20.
The intro page of Madonna.com has been updated with another tour picture of a ravishing Madonna and one of her gorgeous dancers. The tour schedule now mentions both the Slane Castle date (August 29) and the second Manchester date (August 14). Both will go on sale next Friday June 18th at 9am GMT. For the Lisbon concert, no on-sale date is mentioned, just "soon".
~ You can find the full tour schedule, setlist and list of performers on on our tour details page.
Here's what the major news agencies write on the Warner - Maverick settlement:
Warner Music Group (WMG) has wound up a very public and bitter legal battle with its biggest star Madonna, agreeing to buy her out of their Maverick Records joint venture founded 12 years ago.
The financial details of the buy out were not disclosed, but some press reports said Tuesday Warner had paid 10 million dollars for Madonna's stake, far less than the 200 million dollars she had been demanding in court.
Prior to the agreement, Madonna owned 60 percent of Maverick along with partners Guy Oseary and Ronnie Dashev. Under the deal, Warner buys out Madonna and Dashev, raising its stake from 40 percent to 75 percent, while Oseary is kept on as chief executive officer with his 25 percent stake.
"This new joint venture agreement is clearly a win-win for both WMG and Maverick," said WMG chairman Lyor Cohen. "We have every confidence that Guy's creative genius in finding and developing new talent ... will make the label a vital part of the WMG family moving forward."
After recording some early and highly profitable success with acts like Alanis Morrissette, Maverick has struggled in recent years, with WMG claiming in its lawsuit that the label had more than 60 million dollars since 1999.
The agreement ends a nasty spat between WMG and the Material Girl who filed competing lawsuits back in March, accusing each other of mismanaging Maverick at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.
At one point, Madonna, whose own records are released on the Warner label, accused the company of "treason."
WMG was acquired from Time Warner for 2.6 billion dollars last year by a consortium of investors led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. Source: AFP
Warner Music Group has agreed to buy Madonna out of Maverick Records, the label she co-founded 12 years ago, to end the legal battle that pitted the music conglomerate against their biggest star.
Madonna's Maverick Records debuted with a flourish and included the multiplatinum debut of Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" in 1995. More recently, the company has scored hits with Michelle Branch.
Madonna and partners Guy Oseary and Ronnie Dashev together have owned 60 percent of the company; Warner Music owned 40 percent.
In March, Maverick filed suit against Warner Music and its former parent, Time Warner Inc., claiming breach of contract and alleging that they had misstated Maverick's profits and mismanaged the company, costing Madonna and her partners millions of dollars. (An investment group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. purchased Warner Music Group last year.)
Warner Music filed a lawsuit of its own against Maverick, claiming the company had lost tens of millions of dollars.
In an agreement announced Monday, Warner Music said it would buy Madonna and Dashev, Maverick's chief operating officer, out of their share of the label. Madonna will have no role in the company, while Oseary will keep his share and stay with Maverick as CEO.
Neither side would discuss the financial terms.
The deal does not affect Madonna's own recording contract with the Warner Bros. record label, which is a part of Warner Music and has been her home since 1984. She's sold more than 60 million records with the label.
"It was an effective way of settling the lawsuit," lawyer Bert Fields, who represented Maverick, told The Associated Press on Monday. "It's clean and equitable, and it doesn't have anything to do with her record contract."
"This new joint venture agreement is clearly a win-win for both WMG and Maverick, and we are pleased that Guy Oseary, one of the most successful A&R executives in the industry, is continuing his relationship with both companies," said Lyor Cohen, Warner Music's chairman.
Oseary expressed optimism about his new arrangement with Warner Music. "The new independent spirit at Warner Music is a perfect fit for a stand-alone label like Maverick," he said.
A representative for Madonna, who's on a sold-out concert tour, did not immediately return calls seeking comment. Source: AP
Warner Music has bought out Madonna's stake in her Maverick Record label as part of a settlement in their lengthy legal dispute over the future of the 12-year-old joint venture, the company says.
Warner Music said in a statement on Monday it had also purchased the share held by Maverick Chief Operating Officer Ronnie Dashev and signed a new multiyear contract with Maverick A&R chief Guy Oseary.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed but Warner Music said it would have a majority stake in the venture. Maverick will continue to operate as a stand-alone label and would place greater emphasis on signing and developing artists, the statement said.
In March, Maverick filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Warner Music seeking $200 million (110 million pounds) in damages and an end to the venture which is home to acts like Michelle Branch and Alanis Morissette.
Madonna and her two partners had tried to sell her 60-percent stake in the label to Time Warner for a reported $60 million but talks apparently broke down over the asking price. Industry sources said Warner had ultimately paid Madonna significantly less than $60 million.
The dispute predated last November's $2.6 billion purchase of Warner Music by a group of investors led by Edgar Bronfman Jr.
Warner Music Group Chairman Lyor Cohen said the agreement was "clearly a win-win for both WMG and Maverick".
Oseary called Madonna and Ronnie Dashev "my family. and I thank them not only for having helped build Maverick but also for having defined who I am today."
Madonna releases her own records under a separate recording deal with Warner Bros. Records. Source: Reuters
We can announce that Madonna will be playing a second concert at the MEN Arena on August 14th 2004. Tickets go onsale on Friday 18th June at 9am. Ticket prices will be £84.50, £101.00 and £163.50 including booking fee.
She might still be a Material Girl, but Madonna's no longer a Maverick. Ending a nasty legal battle over the future of her Maverick Records, Madonna and Warner Bros. have reached a deal that removes her from control of the label she cofounded 12 years ago.
Madonna and her partners, Guy Oseary and Ronnie Dashev, teamed up with Warners to form Maverick, essentially a vanity label for Madonna to play music mogul. Madonna, Oseary and Dashev controlled 60 percent, while Warners owned the remaining 40. Despite some huge early success with Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill and a roster that now includes Michelle Branch, Maverick has struggled of late.
With the partnership deal due to expire this year, Madonna and her two pals reportedly tried to sell their stake in Maverick to Warner Bros. for $60 million. But those talks fell apart and in March Madonna & Co. filed a $200 million lawsuit accusing Warner Music and parent company Time Warner of breach of contract, gross mismanagement and creative accounting.
Warners in turn launched its own lawsuit against Madonna, Oseary and Dashev, claiming Maverick was a poorly run black hole sucking to the tune of $66 million in red ink since 1999. Warners said Madonna and her partners would have to cough up close to $100 million if they wanted sole control of Maverick.
Monday's deal scotches the dueling lawsuits. Terms of the payouts were not disclosed, but reports say that Warners bought out Madonna for less than the $20 million she initially sought.
Under the new deal, Madonna will have no say in Maverick, but she will keep recording for Warner Bros., her home base since 1984. Warners also bought out the shares controlled by Dashev, who was Maverick's chief operating officer. Oseary will keep his shares and stay aboard as the label's A&R chief.
"This new joint venture agreement is clearly a win-win for both WMG and Maverick," Warner Music boss Lyor Cohen said in a statement.
In the same press release, Oseary thanked Madonna and Dashev and said he welcomed "the new independent spirit at Warner Music." (The label was acquired in November by an investor group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr.)
Even without Maverick to worry about, Madonna still has plenty of extracurricular activities to amuse her. Aside from the touring, recording and child-rearing, she is getting ready to publish her next two Kabbalah-flavored kiddie books, Yakov and the Seven Thieves, due out next week, and The Adventures of Abdi, slated for release Nov. 8.
Madonna's husband Guy Ritchie admitted yesterday he thought the Kabbalah cult was only after his wife's money. The film director believed the religious group was targeting Madonna "for the simple reason that she is rich".
But Ritchie, 35, is now a confirmed group member after meeting founder Rabbi Philip Berg. And he defended the sect of Jewish mysticism. He said: "Kabbalah is an extension of the way most of us try to live our lives. It's just about being a decent person. "Put it this way, I've never met a kabbalahist who is a c***."
Ritchie also rejected claims it is a dangerous sect which reels in the rich and famous. He said Madonna, 45, was not asked to pay for "spiritual enlightenment". "After six years, she has never received any kind of bill from anyone." Madonna is rarely seen without the sect's trademark red string bracelet.
Madonna and Britney Spears want to recreate their infamous on-stage snog. Madge has asked Britney to sing with her on Wednesday at the first of six New York shows of her world tour and insiders say the pair are on for a replay of their kiss.
The original came in August when they stunned a celebrity audience at the MTV Video Music Awards by suddenly locking lips during a duet of Madonnas song Hollywood. The pair loved the fuss it caused and have been eagerly discussing a repeat performance for the last month.
But their plans suffered a setback last week when Britney hurt her knee falling during a video shoot in the Big Apple. Britney has promised Madge shell do her best to be fighting fit for Wednesday's gig.
A source told me: Britney was delighted when Madonna asked her if she could join her on stage. They got loads of reaction the first time they kissed. She agreed to do it immediately. Their people have been faxing and e-mailing non-stop to sort things out. Everything was confirmed last week.
Britney was gutted when she had her fall. It was pretty serious. She had to have surgery and she will find out this week how long shell be out of action. But she's promised to do her best to be there on the night at Madison Square Garden. She just wont be able to do strenuous dancing.
If doctors ban Britney from performing she has until September when Madonnas Re-Invention tour finishes to sort out another date. Madonna has had her own health worries. Last week I revealed she had been struck down for the second time with exhaustion just two weeks into her gruelling tour. But now she is raring to go again.
Madonna.com has posted a Q & A with Gennady Spirin, illustrator of 'Yakov and the Seven Thieves', Madonna's third children book which will be released June 21st.
Q - What was it like working on Yakov and the Seven Thieves?
A - The book was completed amazingly quickly. The idea was clear. The style parameters were set. I was able to render the characters without much difficulty - very naturally. Everything came together well.
Q - How is Yakov and the Seven Thieves different from other books you've illustrated?
A - This is the first time that I worked with a contemporary author. This is not a classic, world-renowned story, but the idea has deep roots.
Q - What message do you hope children will glean from Yakov and the Seven Thieves?
A - I think that children and grown-ups should see this book as espousing the importance of compassion. It also puts forward the concept that often the prayers of some of the most seemingly "bad" people are dearer to God than the prayers of the seemingly "good" people. The thieves? Prayers demonstrate real openness before God, and stem from feelings of unworthiness.
Q - What is your favorite part of Yakov and the Seven Thieves?
A - I must confess that I look at the book as a whole and, thus, I do not prefer one part of the book over another.
Q - What is your favorite illustration in Yakov and the Seven Thieves?
A - I cannot select anything in particular and have never been able to admire my own work, even if I am satisfied with it overall. One's admiration for one's own work can only bring disdain from the great Masters.
Q - What about your style do you feel lends itself to Yakov and the Seven Thieves?
A - The stylistic parameters for the book were discussed and set from the outset. This story takes place in Europe, in the 18th century. It could have been illustrated in any number of styles, but we decided on Baroque. It makes the book dressier, but at the same time preserves the dramatic element and the psychological characteristics of each of the characters.
Q- What was your opinion of Madonna before and after reading Yakov and the Seven Thieves?
A - I had, of course, heard of the author before commencing work on the book, but I am not a fan of contemporary music. I like classical music and jazz. However, my children are familiar with Madonna, and, overhearing that I was working on this book, they told me of her accomplishments and career highlights. Overall, she is a giant, so I felt somewhat uncomfortable initially. Irrespective of the Hollywood hoopla surrounding Madonna, it is not lost on her to notice simple, human actions, which is the centralmoral principle of the story.
Q - What inspired you to want to illustrate children's books?
A - I remember that as a child I absolutely loved to look at books with pictures. How delighted and excited my young soul was to see the elaborate letters and illustrations of a new story. I was drawn to stories by their illustrations. A whole world opened up to my youthful imagination. And to this day, that world beckons.
Q - Which artists and illustrators have most influenced you and your work?
A - Unfortunately, I cannot name just one person. My interests and tastes are broad and my work is influenced not only by other artists (and there is a legion of them), but also by different cultures, architecture, period costumes, and a mass of minute details and elements that have filled my life at different times.
Q - How did growing up in Russia influence your work?
A - Most positively. First and foremost, I am a Russian soul. I am Russian Orthodox. Russia is my Fatherland. The list of Russia's great leaders, religious icons, writers, composers, artists and entertainers is what inspires me, and I consider myself supremely fortunate to be a part of Russia's rich traditions.
Q - What is the most valuable piece of advice you can pass on to young artists?
A - To the young and not-so-young artists I can wish only great love. Love inspires great art, as well as life itself. Love what you do.
Q - Your illustrations feature an amazing amount of detail. How long does it usually take you to complete a piece? What is your process like?
A - In art we are not dependent on technology. It is the process itself that is most important, and the creative process cannot be timed. Sometimes, I can create an illustration in 2-3 days, but more often it takes a week or longer. About my creative process: I don't do sketches. That way, I am much more focused on the creative process and the final product, and, for me, this is more interesting, because I am not worried about the many changes that may be requested and the work then proceeds more naturally, by the grace of God. Of course, I draw on many types of cultural materials while I am working - books, architecture, interiors, furnishings, costumes, etc. Yes, it is true, I love detail - it is a necessary part of the whole.
Q - How do your own children influence your illustrations?
A - I work at home and I love when my children are home while I am working. I love to hear their voices. They are the first to see what I am working on and I can feel when they are not pleased with something I've created. I also know when they are very pleased - which is the best reward I can hope for.
The X-STaTIC PRO=CeSS exhibition has moved from a successful installation in Munich to Dusseldorf at the NRW Forum Kultur und Wirtschaft. For more details on the exhibition which runs from 10-27 June visit the gallery website at www.nrw-forum.de
After several months of will she/won't she speculation, MCD have announced that Madonna will definitely bring her Re:invention Greatest Hits World Tour to Slane Castle on Sunday August 29.
Despite tabloid speculation that they might be as much as € 150, tickets go on sale at 8am on Friday June 18 priced € 88.50 which compares very favourably to the € 105 and € 120 charged last year by those other musical legends Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones. It's also considerably cheaper than the average Stateside price for Madge tickets which is $200.
Hotpress has learned that the Slane gates will be opening later than they normally do to accommodate locals going to mass, and that there will be at least three, possibly four support acts.
With Meath County Council and the local Garda Chief Superintendent both green lighting the show, it looks like nothing can stop Ireland getting its first glimpse of the material girl.
~ We expect that the confirmation from Madonna.com will follow soon.
After reigning over the hearts of millions for quite some time, pop queen Madonna, has added another feather to her cap. The 45-year-old mom of two has been voted the best dressed woman by the Good Housekeeping magazine.
The homemaker's bible declared Madonna the leading fashion icon for women over 40. "The great thing about Madonna is that she constantly looks good and constantly reinvents herself and sets trends," editor Lindsay Nicholson is quoted as saying by news.com.
Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley was highly commended while fellow actors Helen Mirren and Judi Dench and model Jerry Hall were on the short list. Hall's one-time partner, crooner Bryan Ferry, was named Britain's best-dressed man, relegating soccer star David Beckham to second place.
Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine, the austere hosts of the television series What Not To Wear reproduced for an Australian audience recently by Channel 7 - were judged worst-dressed women.
The official website of Lisbon's Atlantic Pavilion has been updated with the following notice - originally published in Portuguese:
"Atlântico, Ltd. understands, respects and considers legitimate all the manifestations in support to the Madonna Concert at the Atlantic Pavilion.
Considering the importance to respect the commitments assumed with all its customers - the one that have contributed to the credit and reliability of Atlântico in the market - Atlântico, Ltd proceeds with all efforts to allow not only the Madonna concert but also the Event of the Mana Church to take place, making possible for both to have a positive accomplishment.
Having had knowledge that tickets for the Madonna concert are currently on sale on some websites, we still alert that those tickets are not valid - for the previously mentioned reason. While we thank everybody for understanding, be sure that - as soon as we have additional informations on this subject, they will be immediately made available through our website."
Kaz from Cooper Owen informs us that they'll have a Rock Legends auction next wednesday, June 16th, which will include the following Madonna items:
- Lot 82: Madonna VIP laminate and ticket stub for her Brixton Academy gig, November 2000
A hologramed laminated pass and ticket stub for Madonna's highly publicised VIP gig at Brixton Academy, London on Tuesday 29th November 2000, one of her most important UK performances to date. (2)
- Lot 83: Madonna signed photo matted with a white label of 'Like a Virgin'
A colour photograph signed Love Madonna in black marker pen, matted with a Japanese white label 45 rpm single for Like A Virgin on Sire Records P-1887. Framed and glazed.
Overall measurements approx. 24 x 15 inch (61 x 38 cm). Sold with a Certificate of authenticity from UACC dealer number 249
Commission bids can be placed online now at www.cooperowen.com and until 2.00pm BST on Wednesday 16th June.
The auction will then be held live on eBaylive at 4.00pm BST.
On June 4th, Yahoo! Messenger,a popular instant messaging service, launched Madonna Audibles. Audibles are expressive verbal animations that you can send to your friends through Yahoo! Messenger. Madonna Audibles are the very first music Audibles to appear on Yahoo! Messenger.
These audibles are caricatures of the Material Girl that display two distinct and popular time periods for Madonna - the 80's and 90's. When a user sends a Madonna audible, they have the option of sending song samples of either Who's that Girl or Ray of Light.
Everyone can check out the Madonna audibles and send them to their friends by downloading the All-New Yahoo! Messenger at messenger.yahoo.com.
MadonnaTribe sources have informed that the crews directed by Jonas Ackerlund working on the documentary film about about the re-INVENTION tour are ready to film up to 15.000 hours of footage. From those "15.000 hours", that include interviews to fans and people attending the concerts, less than a couple of hours will make the final film.
The film release is expected more or less 6 months after the end of the tour and a cinematic release is also being considered. This film, might be inspired by the famous Truth or Dare, but it's no way intended as a sequel to that successful project.
"In bed with Madonna/Truth or Dare" is still today one of the most successful documentaries in film history and Australia's highest-grossing documentary until last year, when "Bowling for Columbine" by Michael Moore became the new highest grossing one.
It has been a long time since discussing Madonna's body became a truism: the incredible stamina and the formidable biceps on this modestly-sized woman, as well as the chameleonic malleability of her face, have solicited as much space in review columns as the consistent doubt over this divine blasphemer's talent.
Madonna's status as the invincible diva is no longer at issue, and what is at issue even with her fans is how much longer this body is going to last as it is put to the test of the mind-bending dancing routines in the tour concerts. A Madonna fan would be heard saying, "She's a goddess," while the less favorably inclined would concede "She's incredibly fit, she's almost like a machine," and still both parties would part with a sense that Madonna's body is beyond physical demise.
The third Inglewood concert had been postponed due to her stomach flu, which in itself seemed bizarre; the concepts 'Madonna' and 'malady' do not seem to go together.
On June 3 in Anaheim, having cut the final part of the concert to just "Thank you," Madonna fainted backstage in full sight of those less fortunate who had cheaper tickets way above the stage.
"Reinvention" is probably the single most-used attribute of Madonna's talent, which even the music snobs had to acknowledge, and therefore it is almost disappointing to find out that the name of her new 50-date tour is Reinvention.
Unless this actually is the last tour, which, many believed, was the case with her 2001 Drowned World, a less eclectic as well as a less physically demanding performance.
Kicking off with its three dates at Inglewood and two at Anaheim, the tour appears to be structured to demonstrate the richness of the past material. It features bold and unexpected covers of hits of much heat like Express Yourself, Material Girl, and Like a Prayer, that in their day infuriated nearly every parent in America.
All of the controversial hits are now re-interpreted through stage design, costume, dance choreography and the background videos. Where appeals to the 'father figure' bordered on the incestuous and had a score-settling tone to them some 15 years ago, the same lyrics now acquire spiritual and human depth that is serene and reassuring.
The Madonna who had chained herself in a sado-masochistic setting and who had given herself to kissing Black Jesuses with abandon - to name only some of the most insidious instances of defiance of everyone that her videos were replete with - sings John Lennon's Imagine and disappears under the stage with the words "No more war, No more wars."
Even before she says it, you know that her new incarnation is that of a guru. Putting on a T-shirt which says "Kabalists do it better" in front of the audience for one of the songs, Madonna seems to have streamlined her awesome energy resources for the promulgation of a single worldview that exudes peace and harmony but that also undermines the image of agent provocateur that we have loved for so long.
As with any of Madonna's shows, Reinvention is a confirmation of unprecedented show biz work ethic that is probably responsible for the widespread suspicion that Madonna may be only part human. Where the other part of this awesome formidable woman has come from we may never find out, but it is obvious that fans will have their compasses pointed to the blinding light of Her Stellar Highness for many years to come.
~ Liz Rosenberg reacted to this story that Madonna didn't faint but she's certainly suffering from exhaustion.
The latest wrangling has Warner possibly offering a settlement, to buy back Maverick. Nobody who works there wants this to happen. In that scenario Madonna and the other share holders would be bought out and Warner would keep Maverick, they would then have to offer Madonna a new deal, and it most likely would not include starting a new vanity label.
Sony would have to offer a lot more personally to sign Madonna without Maverick. No one knows if they are prepared to start a new label branch for her, (they did for michael jackson) but nothing came of it. If Warner buys Maverick and Madonna fly's solo, look for Barry Diller to step in.
He is one of the richest businessman in America and has a long history in Entertaiment companies. It is a huge possibility that he and Madonna will start a new entertainment company similar to the way Steven Speilberg, Jeff Katzenberg and David Geffen formed Dreamworks.
She is lookin to be in a couple of movies, like Revolver with Guy, but they will be small parts she won't star in any movies and carry them herself. Except for the Re-Invention movie. She has met with Quentin Tarantino about a musical, again everything is just discussion now, Don't know anything till now about that report from Sun tabloid about Scorsese's involvement. She won't start any major productions until the contract dust is settled.
But Madonna has lots of lunch discussions about upcoming projects. Before the suit, Maverick bought about 100 or so scripts. All plans are on hold while the lawsuit progresses Jonas Akurland did a movie called Spun with a lot of stars, he is working on his follow up to that movie and Madonna may have a small part. Also Robert Rodriguez is makin "Sin city", Madonna may do a small part in that if they can fit it into her schedule. Madonna is a perfectionist and after the tour she will spend atleast 8 weeks with Jonas on editing the tour footage.
Madonna wants to film from Slane Castle, but that may or may not happen, early 2005 will see theater release of Re-invention with video in latter half. There was talk of releasing the movie in late 2004 but that would put Madonna in direct competition with Michael Moore for Oscar noms, (when truth or dare was not nominated it caused a stir that resulted in the Academy changing their procedures) most likely release is January or March.
Madonna wants a multi media deal that includes tv production as well as film and publishing (we know she does it all) and will work on her new album in 2005 but it is way to early for her too decide producers.
If Madonna leaves Warner, there will be a flood of compilations and remix albums that hit the market before any new album on another label will even have producers set up.
Ron Luna's strict schedule is all off this week. He must start his daily regiment of 40 pills earlier. It takes an hour and a half, as it's hard for him to swallow. He must get his three bags of IV into his body at a different time than he's used to.
Ron Luna is an AIDS patient, and he doesn't have much time left. He's going blind, can't sleep, and his legs ache all the time. You'd think they'd be the worst days of his life. "It's hard for me to get any kind of energy level," Luna said. "I need to sit here all day, and then I take a nap."
But he says these days are among the best. Every day, Luna has been waking up and counting the days to the Madonna concerts. "I felt no pain, no problems with the world," Luna said. "It just took me away." Sunday night, Luna saw his idol, and he'll go again Tuesday. The cost was $300 a ticket -- money he doesn't really have. "These are my last dollars," Luna said. "I'm broke until next month."
Madonna may not be the pop icon she once was, but she still has fans like Ron Luna, who says her shows have kept him alive. "She gives me hope, inspiration, and just pure joy." Luna said. "Pure joy." Friends are doing what they can to set up a meeting between Ron and the singer. They're waiting to hear back. Ron Luna is hoping for one last miracle.
~ Stay strong Ron, our hearts are with you
Isn't Madonna supposed to be controversial and independent? Then why did she cancel all three Israel stops on her "Reinvention Tour"? At least now we know how she's reinventing herself: as someone who plays it safe. The whole tour, in fact, plays it safe.
It takes nothing to spout antiwar messages and to bash Republicans, President Bush and the U.S. military. Nor is there any longer anything provocative about getting naked and simulating heterosexual and lesbian sex.
Antics that target "decent folk" aren't risky she's made herself very rich over the years by selling that tired shtick.
The truth is, Madonna hasn't pushed any envelope in a long time. Similarly, she understands that it's a lot safer to diss Jews than to diss Arabs. Jews only kvetch; Arabs might kill. To be fair, Madonna is still shameless.
After all, she's snubbing the Jews after flaunting her study of the Kabbalah for years now. It gets more pathetic. Madonna told "Access Hollywood" that it's her manager who isn't letting her do the Israel shows, and that if she had her way, she would go. No, Madonna isn't one to get her way.
Contrast this with Melanie Chisholm (formerly Sporty Spice), who played a concert in Tel Aviv in 2001 just months after Intifada II broke out. The Associated Press reported then that she told the sold-out crowd, "I am not at all afraid to be here. I have seen reports of what is going on in this country. I have fans here, and if they are living here and are OK, then I'm OK, too." In other words, the former Material Girl turns out to be more timid than a Spice Girl.
~ Notice that this article is written by a republican columnist, obviously angered by Madonna's war criticism
Callaway Arts & Entertainment is pleased to announce the release of Madonna's third book for children, Yakov and the Seven Thieves, on June 21, 2004. Madonna's first two children's books, The English Roses and Mr. Peabody's Apples, both debuted at No. 1 on the children's picture book best-seller list of The New York Times, and remained on the list for 18 and 10 weeks, respectively. International bestsellers, the books are hugely popular in countries as diverse as England, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Taiwan, Brazil, Slovenia, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands.
Yakov and the Seven Thieves, written for readers aged six and up, is a 32-page jacketed hardcover. The book's ornate and evocative images were painted by Gennady Spirin, an award-winning and internationally revered artist, who has illustrated 33 previous children's books.
Madonna says Yakov and the Seven Thieves "is a story about how all of us have the ability to unlock the gates of heaven-no matter how unworthy we think we are. For when we go against our selfish natures, we make miracles happen, in our lives and in the lives of others."
Publisher and CEO of Callaway Arts & Entertainment, Nicholas Callaway says, "Yakov and the Seven Thieves again proves the amazing range of Madonna's storytelling talent. Her first book was set in contemporary England and the second in post-World War II America.
Now, she takes us to a completely different cultural milieu-a small 18th-century town in Eastern Europe. We therefore selected a world-renowned Russian artist, Gennady Spirin, to illustrate this book, because his traditional artistic style perfectly complements the old-world setting of the story."
Madonna's list of publishers continues to grow. Her children's books will be released in 38 languages, plus a Braille edition, and in more than 110 countries.
Callaway Arts & Entertainment, headquartered in New York, is the originating publisher of Madonna's children's books and has licensed book rights through The Wylie Agency to 42 distinguished houses, including Gallimard Jeunesse in France, Penguin Books for Young Readers in the U.K., and Hanser Verlag in Germany. The book is distributed in the United States by the Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Callaway Arts & Entertainment, founded in 1980 by Nicholas Callaway, is best known for its hugely successful Miss Spider book series. The firm specializes in family entertainment across all media-book publishing, 3-D computer animation for film and television, and product design.
The highest production standards mark the creation of Yakov and the Seven Thieves, which features premium paper and state-of-the art digital prepress and printing.
There are over 50,000 retail stores carrying Madonna's books in the United States alone, including Barnes & Noble, B. Dalton, BJ's, Books-A-Million, Borders Group, Costco, Hastings, Musicland Group, Sam's Club, Scholastic School Fairs and Book Clubs, Target, Toys "R" Us, Virgin Megastores, and Waldenbooks, among many others. Online stores include Amazon.com and bn.com.
Yakov and the Seven Thieves is the third of five children's books by Madonna, each set in a different time and place, featuring a new cast of characters brought to life by celebrated illustrators from around the world. As with the previous two titles, it will be launched with a major international media campaign, including live television appearances and special events.
MADONNA'S FOURTH CHILDREN'S BOOK, THE ADVENTURES OF ABDI, WILL BE RELEASED WORLDWIDE ON NOVEMBER 8, 2004.
To count the many faces of Madonna would be futile. But, hey, since she's reinventing herself again on her latest "Re-Invention Tour," it's worth a go.
Let's start with that sexy mole above the right side of her upper lip in the 1980s. When it disappeared, a growing gap between her front teeth took its place as her prominent facial feature. And it's just as sexy.
Then there's the blond hair, and the brown, and blond, and brown. She seems to dye her hair with the moon's cycles. Sometimes she changes it up with platinum and black. Then she's back to blond. No, brown. OK, blond. Who cares? It's sexy.
Madonna will be reinventing herself Tuesday and Wednesday at the HP Pavillion in San Jose.
The bejeweled Madonna of the'80s wore layers of rosaries and crosses around her neck and thick bracelets up her arms.
The Madonna of late has moved to a simple gold chain around her neck with her name scripted at the base of her throat. Around her wrist is now a red ribbon to ward off the evil eye, a symbol of her study of the mystical Jewish principles of the kabbala.
And while we're on the purely physical aspects of Madonna's reinventions during the years, let's thank her for the following: white lace, cone bras, corsets, fingerless gloves and lingerie.
Sometimes she didn't need clothes at all. In 1992, when her "Sex" book scandalized the world, Entertainment Weekly published on its cover the famed photo of Madonna hitchhiking nude with a cigarette in her mouth, a purse in her hand and a huge question mark covering the X-rated portions of her body.
The same year, Vogue put her on its cover in brown pants, a striped shirt and purple cap for the fall fashion issue, titling it "Madonna Gets Dressed!"
Perhaps this began her reinvention as a clothed fashionista. Now we can thank her for geisha kimonos, cowgirl hats and military fatigues.
The diva that is Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, born Aug. 16, 1958, in Bay City, Mich., has been a step ahead of pop culture ever since she proclaimed herself the Material Girl on her second album, 1984's Like a Virgin.
Since that time, she has had sexually explicit music videos banned from MTV and found her feminine side after giving birth to her first child, Lourdes.
She's been married twice: once to American actor Sean Penn from August 1985 to September 1989, and again to British director Guy Ritchie, from December 2000 to the present.
And there have been plenty of other famous relationships, consummated and not, in between: Prince, Michael Jackson, Dennis Rodman, Warren Beatty and Sandra Bernhardt. (You can't forget the ladies.)
Her most recent famous tryst was with baby divas Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the MTV Music Video awards in August 2003 -- where Madonna again donned the top hat of the bisexual dominatrix and French kissed her two like-a-virgin brides.
Madonna's two children are products of two of her most long-term relationships. Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon, born Oct 14, 1996, was fathered by Madonna's personal trainer and late'90s boyfriend Carlos Leon. Rocco Ritchie was born to Madonna and Ritchie on Aug. 11, 2000. Madonna has left her Hollywood life behind and become a British maven.
Despite this superficial biography, what marks Madonna's many reinventions of herself is her music, for, after all, she is foremost a musician.
Madonna literally popped out in 1983, dancing and singing about lucky stars and holidays. Already placing herself at the borderline, she told us in 1984 that she was our material girl and warned that even though she was going to get raunchy, she would always be like a virgin to us.
In 1986, she gave us a glimpse into the rebellion of her Catholic upbringing by singing Papa Don't Preach. Then she took us to La Isla Bonita and helped us all find the party. And the party continued through 1987 with Madonna, who wanted everyone to know they can dance.
Then -- a reinvention. In 1989, Madonna woke up after the long party and went to church, proclaiming love was like a prayer, we should cherish it, learn to express ourselves, and reconcile with our overbearing fathers.
Not wanting to leave the dance party behind forever, or let us forget she was a sex icon, Madonna vogued her way through 1990 and told us how she would justify her love. And, of course, she played hanky panky with us as Dick Tracy's seductress Breathless Mahoney.
The sex was back! In 1992, Madonna released her erotica, giving us fever, going deeper and deeper, showing us where all life begins, and revealing her secret garden. And, like a good afterglow, she told us bedtime stories in 1994, giving us the rules of human nature and forbidden love.
And -- just before sending us off to start her next reinvention -- she gave us something to remember in 1995, reminding us of what used to be her playground and finally taking her bow.
Since then, she took on Argentina in Evita (1996), showed us her new motherly glow in Ray of Light (1998), reminded us it was all about Music (2000) and now has re-evaluated her American Life (2003). She has also written children's books.
As she continues her Re-Invention Tour this year, Madonna dons military garb, shows footage of war and carnage on screens, and transforms her former lust for sex and parties to a deeper desire for faith, love and peace. And, like always, she takes us along on her journey.
She is one diva who believes in keeping her friends by her side. Madonna had a "Friends and Family" rehearsal of her Re-Invention tour at The Forum in Inglewood , Calif , reports Star.
Kabbalah compatriots Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and Barbra Streisand were among the 300 select that also included Camryn Manheim, Josh Groban and his girlfriend, January Jones, a source was quoted as saying.
From Stereomover @ PeterRauhofer's forum: "Confirmed: The Remix album is happening in July! Peter's remixes for Erotica, Impressive instant, Mother and Father and the original Into the Groove are some of the tracks.
New single out sometime soon, I believe. Those remixes from Daddy G and Akufen will probably see the light of day." (thanks to MIR)
Portuguese medias are in a frenzy today about the possibility that Madonna's planned concerts there might be at risk. The re-Invention tour has two shows planned in Lisbon, the first one already announced for September 12, with tickets going on sale this week.
According to several reports, it seems that Madonna needs the venue from 9 to 11 for rehearsing and to shoot an unspecified videoclip, but the Atlantic Pavillion is already booked by the Mana Church World Convention.
The portuguese promoter of the tour, Ricardo Casimiro, is currently trying to do his best to solve this situation of conflicting schedules. Apparently he even offered 25.000 euros to the Mana Church, asking them to free the space and the company who runs the venue even offered a 25% discount to the church asking them to held their convention one week earlier or later.
At the present time, reports are that the Church denied all offers, and chances are - as casimiro himself hinted to the press - that the Madonna show might not happen. Casimiro is also sad because the planned Madonna Live DVD filmed in Lisbon and possibly also a new video would have given the best publicity to his country all over the world.
Stay tuned for more about this story.
Mad-Eyes is following the re-Invention tour very closely. We'd like to thank the fans who've helped us with this by sending in their reviews. But we need more! If you're going to see one of the shows, don't be shy and tell us about your experience!
Which songs did you like best? How about the costumes, the scene, the choreography, the dancers,... ? We need to know everything! Send your comments in by using our contact form or if you have your own pictures, send them with your review to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And soon your name and story will be online for everyone to read!
After penning down a book for children, pop diva Madonna is creating her own line of sexy clothes aimed at girls as young as two. According to The Sun, Madonna has already finished making the clothes for her range, which includes miniskirts and see through tops. Some of the clothes are said to be inspired form her children's book "English Rose."
Targeted at girls between the age-group of two to sixteen, the collection includes a range called "Sweet Heart" which uses see-through chiffon, the other range called "Faux Leather" will have biker jackets and ra-ra skirts bearing the slogan "Love."
"Madonna was inspired by her daughter Lourdes. Although she's only six, Madonna lets her wear short skirts and make-up," said a source.
Madonna.com finally got a new update. The intro page features the updated tour schedule a picture of the tour and links to remaining ticket sales. The news section features some press reviews (which featured on Mad-Eyes a WEEK ago ;-) and - most interestingly - there's a new set of tour pictures in the image gallery.
From StereoMover @ Madonna Village:
"It has now been confirmed that "American Life-the club mixes" will see a release by the end of the summer (POSSIBLY in two volumes...though it will probably be a 2-disc set instead: one with remixes from AL, the other with remixes for "classic" tracks) and a new Madonna album will see the light in mid-2005.
I'd reported otherwise, but as it turns out, some work (with Pat Leonard) has been completed. I don't know if it's all new stuff. The rumour of a live album is still going around. Either way, there will be new material released in the Spring of 2005. No other collaborators were mentioned."
~ Naturally, there's no *official* confirmation yet, so we'll have to wait for more details.
Madonna is working on a new documentary set for a cinematic release in Spring 2005. Fans attending her MGM Grand Hotel show in Las Vegas last weekend were told a film is being made around her current Re-Invention world tour.
The documentary is expected to be entitled "Madonna: Re-Invention" and focus on her relationships with her children, family and fans. A fan who attended the Vegas show told darkhorizons.com that he approached a film crew outside the venue, to say how much he had enjoyed Madonna's performance.
He explained: "After my ranting, I was asked to sign a release paper and they took a head shot of me as well. I asked why, and I was told by the producer it was for a "documentary film about the latest tour". "So I asked 'Like a 'Truth Or Dare 2'?' He replied: 'Sort of.. But more about the fans, more about Madonna's life now & her kids'. He said it will be released in theaters no later than Spring 2005".
WHO: Madonna , Madge, The Material Girl, the Queen of Pop whatever you want to call her, she's one of the biggest pop icons of all time. Her many incarnations throughout the years from sex provocateur to children's author has kept her relevant and fresh.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Though they'll be plenty of steamy, syncopated dance steps, don't expect too much raunch this time around. Madge, a married mother of two, seems more interested in spreading the message of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, than sex. Still, Madonna hasn't turned into a prude they'll be plenty of corsets and lingerie-like attire, along with the elaborate staging and showmanship that has made her an acclaimed concert performer.
SONGS WE WANNA HEAR: Vogue, Like a Virgin, Music, What It Feels Like for a Girl, Papa Don't Preach, Take a Bow, Secret heck, just about anything in her expansive catalog.
SONGS WE CAN DO WITHOUT: Nearly everything from last year's poorly received American Life.
Oh, to be hot, young, rich and... snubbed? Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen got the velvet rope-a-dope at a recent Madonna concert in L.A., when they weren't allowed backstage to meet Her Madgesty.
According to the Star, a source close to the singer says, "Madge has to approve all of the celeb meet-and-greets, and she did not approve them." Ouch! Oh wait, these days the Olsen girls demand that they be considered individuals, so make that, ouch-ouch!
Madonna has imposed a cursing fine on anyone in her Re-Invention tour entourage found swearing. Every time someone curses they have to pay a fine, an insider told the New York Post.
The 45-year-old singers rep Liz Rosenberg said, That is correct. And by the way, she has paid plenty (herself). I think it is $5 a curse word.
According to the Post, Kabbalah devotee Madonna has already paid into the swear box several times - she was caught during rehearsals screaming at her dancers: Get it right or get the f*** out!
Tickets in all price ranges -- $45-$300 (plus applicable service charges) -- are available for all three Madonna concerts scheduled for Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at HP Pavilion in San Jose.
The seats were being withheld until stage construction and production were complete and were not previously available to the public, according to a news release from Clear Channel, the promoter of the show.
Tickets can be purchased at bgp.com, the arena box office and at all Ticketmaster outlets. To charge tickets by phone, call (408) 998-TIXS.
New York radio station Z100 is giving away pit tickets for Madonna's New York concerts. Enter the contest at their website. Here's what they say about it: "Tell us in 20 words or less why you are Madonna's most fanatical fan, for your chance to get in the Re-Invention Fan Pit!
The Zoo will read entries all week, and will do surprise Madonna wake up calls, awarding winners with a pair of VIP tickets to sit in the Re-Invention Fan Pit, a special area in front of the stage!" Good luck! (thanks to Mad-Eyes reader John for bringing this to our attention)
It plays like a diva's nightmare. In the video for Britney Spears' Me Against the Music, pop's blonde du jour pursues her idol, Madonna, through a labyrinthine nightclub. Just as Britney corners her prey and pushes her to the wall for an alpha-girl kiss, Madonna vanishes. Phantasmic laughter floats past like ectoplasm as a confused Britney blinks into the klieg lights.
The video was an extended metaphor for Madonna's relationship to her pop- idol offspring: No matter how fast Britney and her peers move, they can't catch up to the kabbalistic material girl. It's true that Madonna's latest album, American Life, didn't match the mega-sales of the House of Britney, but the fact that it went platinum at all is a testament to Madge's longevity -- as is her sold-out Re-Invention world tour, which hits San Jose's HP Pavilion for three nights next week.
The tour's title explains its star's staying power. More than 20 years after the release of her debut album, Madonna's transgressive cachet has diminished, but she still stands the most durable pop symbol of her generation -- and potentially the next -- thanks to her talent for creating an identity that's forever in the process of disassembling itself.
Many have imitated and paid homage to Madonna's fluid identity politics, and with the "Re-Invention" tour, she pays tribute to herself -- or rather her myriad selves.
"Madonna is nothing but masks," says Georges-Claude Guilbert, author of "Madonna as Postmodern Myth: How One Star's Self-Construction Rewrites Sex, Gender, Hollywood and the American Dream." "People who regularly claim they have finally spotted the 'real' Madonna make fools of themselves. The 'real' Madonna does not exist -- or if she does, she does not have tea with journalists."
The "Re-Invention" tour is less a concert than a greatest-hits revision of an icon who has survived by rewriting the rules as she goes. True to the contradictory nature of a materialist in pursuit of spiritual enlightenment, a libertine turned children's book author, her new show juxtaposes religious scripts with eroticized warfare, an electric chair with an acoustic guitar. Celebrated and reviled for appropriating and reinterpreting the cultures of others, she is now rewriting her own iconography.
For many fans attending her San Jose shows, Madonna's legacy of cultural poaching is precisely the draw. San Francisco fan Mick Hughes, 40, explains, "She was hitting it big the same time I was coming out, and she spoke to gay men. She embraced us. I remember when she did a show at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, kind of a memorial for Keith Haring, where all the proceeds went to AIDS charities. Besides the fact that the music's got a good beat, she just connects with gay men."
"I feel it might be the last gasp before it all becomes embarrassing," adds Hughes' partner, Graham Dobson, who discovered Madonna when he saw her perform Lucky Star on "Top of the Pops" in 1984. "This might be the last real Madonna concert -- or at least the one I want to remember her by."
For Holly Kindel, a San Francisco financial planner who has been a fan since age 17 but won't be seeing the new show, the time for seeing a "real" Madonna concert is already past: "From what I've seen, it doesn't look like anything particularly new," she says of the "Re-Invention" tour. "If you're going to claim you're reinventing yourself, you might want to do something about that. But what can Madonna do? Wear a gunnysack?"
But Madonna's decision to recontextualize her history and musical catalog is more progressive than nostalgic, argues Freya Jarman-Ivens, co-editor of the forthcoming essay collection "Madonna's Drowned Worlds: New Approaches to Her Cultural Transformations (1983-2003)."
"I would suggest we consider the reinvention as another strategic move forward, rather than as a change in direction towards the retrospective," she says. "She seems to have moved on from culture as her object of transformation, and on to herself instead."
Having been dubbed a reinvention artist by critics throughout her career, Madonna is now taking charge of the label. "Appropriation of this term now is, for me, a typically sarcastic move and a clever way to use the 'abusive term' in her favor, to deflate it, as the black and queer movements have been doing for years," says Jarman-Ivens' co-editor, Santiago Fouz-Hernández.
Guilbert agrees. "I believe she embarked 20 years ago on a postmodern cultural cruise, constantly rewriting -- with utmost care but always tongue in cheek -- past trends and past versions of herself," he says. "In this tour, Madonna is once more signaling her total control over her own iconic status, possibly making a pause before finding other cultural artifacts to recycle in her usual clever way. Madonna is the Quentin Tarantino of pop music, and I suspect they both have a lot more to say."
Clever marketing stratagem or reflexive pop art? The "Re-Invention" tour is both. At once inventive and reinventive, Madonna uses this latest road show to put her many personae on the couch while she plays analyst, interpreting the dreams and fantasies that loaded each with its unique cultural charge.
This can be called commercial narcissism, but it still betrays a depth of self- awareness that Britney and company have yet to discover. Madonna as Madonna theorist: It could be her most innovative identity yet.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the former friend and advisor to Michael Jackson, has attacked Madonna, calling her a "slut" and a "vulgarian". In a startling essay for SomethingJewish.Co.UK, the Rabbi blasts Phillip Berg, the head of the Kabbalah Centre for letting the Material Girl be the religion's highest-profile spokesperson.
"Earth to Phillip Berg: Do us all a favor and dump Madonna as your principal spokesperson", Boteach writes. "Sorry to be so crass, but Madonna is a slut. Yes, she may sing, and she may dance. But she is famous for being a slut. And no religion dare have a slut as its principal representative". He goes on to say:"[I]s the Kabbalah Center really so desperate that it is prepared to promote itself through a vulgarian whose main contribution to the culture is porn rock?"
"I find Rabbi Boteach's comments regarding Madonna frightening", Madonna's spokeswoman, Liz Rosenberg, told the Scoop. "His vile attacks on her character and as an artist are staggering for someone who professes to be a religious person... I suggest this man take a look at his own character and what problems he may have that would make him feel that he should make statements about a truly beautiful human being that he does not know in the slightest...
Madonna's relationship with the Kabbalah and her commitment to (their) teachings has been a beautiful experience for her and the fact that Madonna wants to share her lessons... is yet another example of her truly generous and loving spirit."
Mem Mehmet informs us about a new Madonna art book, which will be released on August 15th. It contains 192 pages of Madonna-inspired art work by more than 100 artists from all over the world. You can find more info on this great piece on the website madonna-in-art.
"Madonna has been all things to all people, all of them represented here together for the first time. This collection of paintings, drawings, graphics and photo-realistic portraits are amassed from over 100 artists from around the world, a testament to her amazing global impact. These artists have transferred this pop-culture chameleon from prints and celluloid to pencil and paint, a modern day icon forever captured on canvas.
Just as Madonna has presented us with a myriad of images and creations, so too have the artists gathered here to form this collection. Each phase of her career is lovingly captured, each image presented in the same original style that Madonna has brought to her music and videos.
Madonna has pushed musical and performance boundaries to the limit, in some cases the artists here have stretched their imaginations to portray her in their own inimitable styles, each page as different to the next as the stages of Madonna's career. And as with the videos and stage shows here is bold colour, black and white, form and shape, light and shade and everything in-between.
What better tribute could there be to a multi-faceted woman who has delighted the world for over two decades with glamour, fun, surprise and sheer professional artistry than this unique collection of portraits? All of the elements that have made Madonna one of the most endearing and enduring of entertainers are encased within the covers of this book. And what better tribute to someone who once said of herself – ‘I am my own experiment, I am my own work of art'."
"Madonna has already had conversations with other record labels and it seems there is no way she will be returning to Warners. During rehearsals she has been having meetings with Sony and that is where she will most likely go.
They have Guy Ritchie under contract for his films and are dying to get Madonna. (you would think their experience with Michael Jackson has left them with a bad taste when dealing with Icons but not really). Sony doesn't even care that Swept Away made no money, they respect Guy and love Madonna, they are prepared to pay $100 million to buy Maverick outright, Madonna would still have her % in the company and they would offer Madonna a huge contract.
Here is where the issue gets a little convoluted... Sony is also pioneering the "blue-ray" dvd or HD-DVD which is more crisp and clear than regular dvd's. They really want the Madonna concert for the new format and this is all history repeating, if you remember the Blonde Ambition tour did not come out on tape but was one of the largest selling Laser Discs of the time.
The one caveat is Warner and the Maverick Lawsuit. Warner wants $170-$200 million for Maverick which Sony is not prepared to pay.
Madonna also likes the fact that Sony has studios and offices in New York, Los Angeles and London, making business more convenient for her.
Liz Rosenberg works for Warners and not Madonna but has already decided to follow Madonna whever she goes (she has already been asked, as well as other members of the team).
Warner Bros studio never got involved with distributing Maverick's movies, but Sony wants those as well.
They will also offer Madonna more money per cd and look at her and Guy producing more movies together through Maverick.
It will be weird if Madonna goes to a new label because there will be no more hits or remix collection featuring her early and recent work, but we can expect warner to milk the machine with boxed sets and remixed albums when she is gone, (it is normal for them to dilute the market therefore shrinking Madonna's value).
Seymore Stein started Sire back up and hired Mandy Moore. Sire Records got a percentage of the Madonna money since the beginning, without Madonna that money will be gone, therefore he started Sire back up and signed Mandy so he will still have an income.
However, probably nothing will happen on these fronts for several months. The Warner lawsuit and value of Maverick must be decided beforehand, but the people in the know are already talking: In 2005 Madonna and Maverick will be at Sony."
Belgian TV channel JIM tv is organising a Madonna contest for Belgian fans. The winner will fly to New York for 3 days, stay in a luxury hotel and gets a VIP-ticket for the june 24 concert in Madison Square Garden.
On top of that he or she will meet Madonna during a meet & greet session. All you have to do is send a text message (SMS) with the word 'Madonna' to 3010 (€ 0,50 per message). You will then have to answer some questions by SMS.
The winner will be notified personally. The contest runs till thursday June 10th at midnight. Good luck! (thanx to Martin for reminding us)
Fans of Madonna may have often wondered how the 45-year-old mom of two, manages to stay in shape and flaunt that superbly splendid body of hers. According to the BBC, the 'Frozen' star has a fitness level that would put teenagers to shame. And the secret of success is her passion for yoga and a commitment to a strict diet and exercise regime.
Madonna is a fan of Ashtanga yoga, which is a more vigorous form of exercise and more physically demanding. "The effects of yoga are gradual and long-lasting," said Emma Evans, from the British Wheel of Yoga - the governing body for yoga in Great Britain. "What is wonderful about Madonna is that she inspires people to practise yoga and if someone is drawn to practise yoga, that can only be a good thing," she said.
Leicester chiropractor Tim Hutchful said that suppleness and flexibility are within the grasp of the average couch potato by making a few lifestyle changes and understanding how our bodies work. And the younger you start, the better your chances of lasting results. Hutchful was quoted as saying, "Pilates and yoga are great for flexibility and I advise patients to take up this type of exercise." Yoga and Pilates tend to exercise, strengthen and lengthen muscles without adding bulk.↑ Back to top of page