Madonna news - June 2004


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29 June - Madonna performs on blessed stage
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." (source: Irish Examiner)

29 June - Madonna bares it all
Madonna bares it all 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! (source: The Times of India)
~ 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.

29 June - Basinger beats out Madonna for 'Door' role
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." (source: Sun Times)

29 June - Launch of Madomaniac TV
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."

28 June - Madonna reveals raunchy routine
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." (source: Ireland Online)

28 June - Madonna's Kabbalah cocktail
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. (source: Ireland Online)

25 June - Madonna's latest incarnation raises questions
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." (source: Macon Telegraph)

25 June - Norton sets sights on Madonna
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." (source: IOL)

25 June - Madonna brings Jewish mysticism on tour
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." (source: Boston Herald)

25 June - Madonna competition on TOTP
Fans in the UK should tune into TOTP this Friday at 7.30pm on BBC1 to enter a very exciting Madonna competition... (source: Madonna.com)

24 June - Madonna on Kabbalah tour? *rumour*
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. (source: The Australian)
~ Personally, i think this article deserves a big RUMOUR tag... don't get excited just yet.

24 June - Mana Church fights devil Madonna
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). MadonnaTribe member 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... "

24 June - Madonna stalker thrown out of MSG concert
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. (source: NY Post)

24 June - New tour documentary to premiere in Cannes
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. (source: WSRW)
~ In 1991, Truth Or Dare also premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

24 June - Slane licence finally approved
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. (source: RTE)

24 June - Madonna to make Models film *rumour*
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. (source: Irish Examiner)

24 June - Too much Madonna in preachy 'Seven Thieves'
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. (USA Today)

24 June - 'Yakov' is Jewish
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."2 (source: Jerusalem Post)

22 June - Vatican feels threatened by Kabbalah
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.” (source: MSNBC)

22 June - Piper adds Madonna's material skirl
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.
Madonna and her bagpiper 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 and on 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." (source: Scotsman)

22 June - A Chanel cabaret girl
She's off again - for her "Reinvention 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. (source: CNW Telbec)
~ 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'?...

21 June - Interview with Jamie King
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.
(source: NY Times)

21 June - Madonna's pricey shirts sell like hot cakes
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. (source: WebIndia123)

19 June - Over €5m spent on Slane tickets so far
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. (source: Irish Examiner)

18 June - 30.000 tickets sold in 30 minutes
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.

18 June - Bush behaves like Saddam, says Madonna
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. (source: Scotsman)

18 June - Madonna continues to express herself
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."

Lasting effect on pop culture
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.

Defying convention
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."

Sparked feminist debate
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."

Children's book author
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." (source: Greenwich Time)

18 June - Madonna chooses Esther as new name
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." (source: AP)

18 June - Madonna urges fans to see 'Fahrenheit 9/11'
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. (source: MTV)

18 June - Win pit passes with VH1
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 resident sof 18 years or older. (source: VH1)

18 June - Madweek in Brazil
MadWeek 2004 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).

17 June - Madonna rethinks her racier days
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.
Madonna interviewed by ABC's Cynthia McFadden "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. (source: ABC News; picture courtesy of AP Photo/ABC, Rick Rowell)

17 June - Madonna's concerts top grossing of the week
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.

16 June - Ticketmaster gets ready for massive Slane ticket sale
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. (source: MadonnaTribe)
~ A first series of Slane tickets - out on ICON presale earlier today - reportedly sold out in... 3 minutes! Eat this, New York Post!

16 June - Yakov is best of three
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. (source: Canada.com)

16 June - Preview of ABC interview
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 interviewed by ABC's  Cynthia McFadden 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. (source: ABC News)

16 June - Brokers complain about too many concerts
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 Mi chael 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. (source: NY Post)
~ 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".

16 June - Download French & Saunders parody
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).

16 June - ICON presale for Manchester and Slane
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.

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