Check out our tour diary for the first details on Madonna's gig at Slane castle.
Angry Madonna fans turned on salesmen after arriving at her gig to find they did not have tickets. Police were called when 70 fans, who shelled out hundreds of pounds, found there were no seats. Lawyer Alain Gavin paid an agency £150 to see Madonna at Wembley Arena on Thursday.
He said: "Some of the people had flown in from far away and they were very disappointed. Some paid £1,700 for three tickets. "There were kids of seven or eight-years-old who were most disappointed." He bought his tickets from www.londonticketshop.co.uk. Manager Michael James said 20 customers did not get tickets because of a mistake.
But he said fans turned on him and two other firms before they had time to buy tickets from touts. He said: "I feared for my life. I have received death threats. But we are not a fraudulent company." Police are investigating.
Madonna won't be the only celeb going to Israel to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The Reinvented singer — who has become a leading proponent of Kabbalah — will be making a pilgrimage to Tel Aviv in September to celebrate the Jewish holidays, and a source says that she will be joined by hunky actor Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, as well as Donna Karan.
The source says the "Van Helsing" star and the designing woman have become "quite involved" in the controversial offshoot of Judaism. "We still haven't gotten a confirmation from Demi [Moore] and Ashton [Kutcher]," says the insider. "[Moore is] shooting a movie ["Half Light"] in Wales and might not be able to join us."
What's more, says the source, the ABC news magazine "20/20" will be filming the entire event and interviewing the Kabbalah Centre's leader, Rabbi Philip Berg — his first time ever on camera. A spokeswoman for the show told The Scoop, "I can't confirm that." Karan's rep couldn't be reached and Jackman's said he had no info on the story.
"It will be quite the media event for Kabbalah," says the source. "This all comes a month before a publicity extravaganza in October, including a billboard on Sunset Boulevard to promote a book on the red string — which wards off the evil eye — as the got-to-have religious fashion accessory of the season."
The current issue of Billboard (page 11) has a full-page ad, with MSG thanking Madonna and her team for the 6-night run at MSG. The text: MADONNA "POSTS" BIG NUMBERS AT THE GARDEN! (ALL in BIG letters, across the page in 3 lines) There's a pic of M singing to the left, with the following text to the right: Madonna has re-invented the definition of "smash hit" with her acclaimed "Re-Invention Tour"!
* All six performances completely sold out!
* Attended by 88,625 cheering fans!
* A whopping $12,674,925 in gross receipts!
Then, in a box, this text: RCE and MSG would like to thank Caresse Henry, Arthur Fogel, Gerry Barad, Tres Thomas, Chris Lamb & Everyone at Clear Channel Touring... and, of course, Madonna!
Rapper LL Cool J has slammed critics for attacking Madonna's children books. The Material Girl published the first of five books, The English Roses, last year (03) but received bad reviews for her literary debut, but the Phenomenon rapper - who penned "rap and read" children's book And The Winner Is ... - fiercely defends the pop-queen.
He says, "I don't know why people didn't like Madonna's books, maybe they don't think it's a valid art form, maybe they don't like kids. Why not be rich and famous and take time to inspire kids? That would embarrass whoever said you cannot do it! I don't understand it at all!"
All roads lead to Slane this weekend as Her Madgesty - aka Madonna - is set to become Queen of the Castle.
The 46-year-old popstar will make history tomorrow when she becomes the first female act to headline Slane in the 23-year history of staging major concerts at the Co Meath venue.
Tomorrow's show will also mark another new departure as it's the first time the scenic Boyneside amphitheatre will host one of the country's biggest outdoor gigs on a Sunday.
It was changed from the traditional Saturday fixture to facilitate Madonna's schedule during the European leg of her Re-Invention world tour.
However, the switch in date may partially explain the somewhat sluggish ticket sales, despite claims by the concert organisers that the vast majority of the 80,000 tickets have been sold.
Advertisements for the concert have continued to run all week, suggesting it may not exactly be a sell-out show.
Some fans have complained the €88.50 ticket price was too expensive - even for the aptly named Material Girl.
Many bids for concert tickets being sold on the internet have failed to meet the reserve price. Two tickets being offered at less than €80 without a reserve had failed to attract any bid by yesterday afternoon, while a Wexford seller had only been offered €59 for a pair of tickets with a reserve price of €124.
Nevertheless, a large crowd is likely to go mad for Madonna as it is the first opportunity for most of her Irish fans to hear hits such as Vogue, Like A Prayer, Into the Groove and Crazy for You in a live setting.
Fans are warned there will be no access to Slane before 3.30pm tomorrow.
Gates to the concert site will not open until 4pm with the first act, techno-wizard, Paul Oakenfold, due on stage at 5pm. He will be followed by Iggy Pop and The Stooges at 6.30pm before Madonna makes her eagerly-awaited appearance at 8.30pm.
Concert-goers are advised to bring a mixture of clothing as the weather forecast for tomorrow is for a cool, windy day with bright, sunny spells but also some heavy showers.
Dublin Bus is running buses at 20-minute intervals starting at 2pm from Parnell Square to Slane with return services straight after the end of the concert. Tickets are €20.
Concert traffic from the south and west is being encouraged to access Slane via the N51 from Navan, while motorists from Dublin should take the N2 route direct to Slane.
People travelling from the North are recommended to follow the M1 to the Dunleer intersection and then follow signs for Slane through Collon.
Gardaí have advised non-concert traffic, especially GAA fans travelling to the Derry-Kerry football semi-final in Croke Park tomorrow afternoon, that the N2 (Dublin-Derry) road at Slane will be closed to traffic from 8pm this evening until 3am on Monday morning due to the concert.
Motorists are advised to travel to Dublin on the N3 via Cavan, Kells and Navan or to turn left off the N2 at Ardee to access the M1 route to the capital.
Pop diva Madonna broke down in tears while dedicating the hit number "Crazy For You" to her British fans on her last date in Britain at Wembley Arena. Dressed in a kilt and with a T-shirt saying, "Brits Do It Better", Madonna dedicated the song to fans whom she said had "stuck by me for 20 years", and suddenly broke down in tears.
"Madonna was overcome with emotion. It seems she has thoroughly enjoyed the tour and she was thrilled at the crowd's response. She couldn't find a tissue so wiped her eyes with the hem of her kilt, and then pulled herself together to do the number. It was brilliant," The Sun quoted an onlooker as saying.
Critics have expressed reservations about Madonna's latest concerts as she ends the UK leg of her world tour.
The singer visited Manchester and London as part of her 56-date Re-invention tour, which visits Dublin's Slane Castle on Sunday.
The star twisted her way through greatest hits and anti-war protests.
"This is a show of strange juxtapositions, one in which theatricality is often substituted for sentimentality," The Independent said.
"Each time she picks up a guitar, you know a message is soon to follow," wrote the newspaper's critic Fiona Sturges.
This mix of pop and politics, coupled with ticket prices as high as £150 each, made a number of critics uncomfortable.
"This new earnestness is terribly wearying," wrote the Daily Mail's Amanda Platell. "We came along for a singsong, and we got a sermon."
The Evening Standard agreed. "All was not wholly well. Five costumes meant four spirit-sapping interludes and the mawkish backdrop to American Life (guns, orphans, bombs) was a reminder of Madonna's unwavering political ignorance."
Nevertheless some were impressed by the sheer professionalism of the concerts.
"The concert ran as smoothly as a Broadway show," wrote Ludovic Hunter-Tilney of the Financial Times.
"During costume breaks we were kept entertained by a fire juggler, a skateboarder and frenetic break-dancers."
He described the staging of Madonna's songs as "imaginative, sometimes eccentrically so".
For some critics, the fact that the 46-year-old yoga fan was still embarking on such huge tours more than proved her showbusiness credentials.
"Madonna has been playing gigs for so long she can do it standing on her head, and last night she did just that," said the News of the World.
"The likes of Emma Bunton, Rachel Stevens and even Britney Spears will never be able to captivate an audience the way Madge did," agreed the Daily Star.
Meanwhile the Daily Express noted: "Madonna's first ever gig in Britain was at the Hacienda club in Manchester more than 20 years ago - and this bold show proved she's still got what it takes to thrill her fans."
The Independent on Sunday's Simon Price compared the concert favourably to her previous Drowned World tour in 2001.
"The actual show is slightly less spectacular than the gravity-defying stunts and cutting edge choreography of her last jaunt," he wrote, "but the selection of songs, admittedly, is superior."
Nevertheless he joined the vast majority of critics in feeling that Madonna's cover version of John Lennon's Imagine, sung against a backdrop of images of starving children, was ill-judged.
"This is the moment when I wonder whether the £150 includes a complimentary sick bag."
Visitors from fansite MadonnaTribe Sharon and Jamesy apparently had the chance to talk to the crew of the documentary at Wembley Arena that gave out some more details about the releases from this tour.
They told them that the London and Paris shows are being filmed to be used in the documentary, more or less like for Truth or Dare. The release date of the film is at moment scheduled for August 2005.
The dvd release will be a "live in Lisbon" which according the documentary crew has a release date set for March 2005. Please keep in mind things are subject to change.
Belgian fans who haven't yet got hold of tickets for the Arnhem shows should head over to the website of Radio Donna. Die hard fans shouldn't have a problem with the contest question. The winner will win no less than 9 (NINE!) tickets for the show on september 9th. Good luck!
Those who didn't win and still want tickets, can contact Mad-Eyes for info on Arnhem tickets for sale.
What a difference a day makes. Last night Madonna was on stage for her Reinvention tour in a racy corset, fishnet tights and thigh length boots and jumping around like a teenager. But it was a different picture just a few hours earlier when she looked more like a suburban housewife.
In my snap below she's dressed demurely in a thoroughly sensible tweed skirt, thick tights and a cardigan buttoned up to the top. Sitting beside her is daughter Lourdes, who mum calls Lola.
They were at London's Great Ormond Street children's hospital to launch Madge's new book, Yakov And The Seven Thieves. She told young patients: "I've got a gig soon and I need to rest my voice, so my daughter Lola is going to read for you instead."Lourdes read extracts from the book, the third in a series of five.
~ At fansite Madonnalicious, you can download a short TV report from London Tonight. You can hear Madonna explain that she wants to save her voice for her show the next night and that Lola has volunteered to read from the book 'Yakov and the 7 Thieves'.
Protests from seven safety groups have prompted General Motors to pull a television ad that shows a young boy driving a Corvette sports car so recklessly that it goes airborne, officials of the automaker say.
The ad, featuring the Rolling Stones song "Jumpin' Jack Flash," has aired repeatedly during the Olympics. The groups, including Consumers Union and the Centre for Auto Safety, complained that it was "the most dangerous" spot they have seen in recent years.
Directed by singer Madonna's husband Guy Ritchie, the spot shows a boy's daydream of racing the Corvette through downtown streets and through a construction pipe. The safety groups said in a letter to GM released on Wednesday that the spot could encourage children to take their parents' cars for a drive.
"This ad is certainly among the most dangerous, anti-safety messages to be aired on national television in recent years," the safety groups said in a joint letter sent to GM Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner. "It is doubtful that General Motors would condone the beer industry showing a "dream sequence" of 10-year-old children having an after-school "kegger"," the letter said.
The ad does include a warning that drivers should operate the vehicle safely and must have a license, but the automaker decided to stop airing the spot, GM spokesman Joe Jacuzzi said on Wednesday.
"We decided to pull it due to responses and feedback we received," Jacuzzi said. "It's a big ad, and it's been airing for a while, but we've got a whole campaign."
The Corvette ad is one of many spots GM prepared for the Summer Olympics. GM is the largest television advertiser during the Summer Games, spending 10 times more during the August 13-29 Olympics than it typically spends during a comparable period.
The seven groups who signed the letter include Consumers Union, Public Citizen, Centre for Auto Safety, Consumer Federation of America and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
Groups have also protested controversial ads or marketing campaigns from other automakers in recent years.
Ford was targeted when an ad showing a cat poking its head through the sunroof of the SportKa, only to be decapitated when the roof closes, found its way onto the Internet. But that spot, which Ford said it never authorised and never aired, is still shown on the Internet, where it has created a buzz.
Chrysler pulled its sponsorship of the "Lingerie Bowl", which featured models in scanty outfits playing football and aired during halftime of the Super Bowl in February.
Music legend Madonna and two of her biggest fans have come together to help the Final Hour Appeal.
Tessa Flattery, 31, and Marie-Claude de Bourgonniere, 29, have decided to auction front-seat tickets for the Thursday performance of the artist's worldwide Re-Invention tour. The thrilled fans were given the complimentary tickets when they went to Madonna's opening night at Wembley on Sunday.
‘We were just chatting in our seats and we noticed this American security guard with a Madonna-style cowboy hat around the back of the stage,' said Mrs Flattery. Ten minutes later he was walking up the stairs where we were sitting. Everybody let him through and he came up to us and said: "These are for you, courtesy of Madonna".'
Both were sceptical at first but they realised it was true and their emotions took over. Mrs Flattery said her friend was ‘bawling her eyes out'. ‘She's obsessed with Madonna.'
But the friends quickly realised that they could not use the courtesy tickets because they would be unable to get flights to England on the Thursday. Despite offers of money from fans around them, they kept hold of the tickets until they decided what to do.
‘I would love to go back on Thursday, but I've got a little daughter to look after,' said Ms de Bourgonniere, a mother of three. ‘I just hope we can give somebody the same buzz we had.' Mrs Flattery said it was a chance not to be missed.
‘You don't let this slip by. If anybody idolises Madonna the way my friend does, then this is giving them a chance to experience what they've always wanted. Whoever gets those tickets is not going to be disappointed.'
Mrs Flattery, a mother of four, bought the tickets in April in advance of her friend's 30th birthday. She was on the telephone as soon as the ticket hotline opened. After 20 minutes, she got through. The only seats left cost £150.
‘It was now or never. I said to Marie-Claude: "Do you want them or not?".'
It was lucky for them that Ms De Bourgonniere said yes – all the Wembley tickets were sold out half an hour later. Both of them said the tickets were worth every penny. Their memories will stick with them forever.
‘It was just mind-blowing,' said Ms de Bourgonniere. ‘It was the best day of my life, apart from when I had children. If I could thank Madonna personally, I would.'
Mrs Flattery has been an avid fan since the beginning of the singer's musical career in the 80s. The artist, who reportedly arrived in New York in 1978 in search of fame with only $35 dollars in her pocket, is never one to shy away from controversy. Both friends said she was the biggest female superstar of the modern era.
They could see the performer backstage with her children and film director husband Guy Ritchie. They also saw her kiss her dancers goodbye before being ushered off at the end of the show.
‘She was just fantastic,' said Ms de Bourgonniere.
‘She was in great shape and was absolutely beautiful. There was so much adrenaline there and the crowd was buzzing. I'll never forget it.'
Organisers of Madonna's first Irish concert have attacked reports that they were ignoring disabled fans. Former Taoiseach John Bruton had claimed his officials were told there would be no discounts for helpers bringing wheelchair-bound fans to Sunday's show.
Justin Green, of promoters MCD, said: "We take our commitment to inclusiveness seriously and take issue with any suggestion to the contrary. "The approach taken by MCD in its allocation of tickets is standard practice across the industry, including such organisations as the GAA, Croke Park and Punchestown. Mr Bruton's intervention on this matter is rather puzzling given that MCD received correspondence from Meath Accessible Transport on June 29th. MCD replied on July 5th offering a number of free tickets and direct contact numbers for our safety officer."
Around 80,000 fans are expected to gather at the Co Meath venue, Slane Castle, this Sunday as Madonna headlines the one day festival. The Fine Gael TD had said he contacted the promoters on behalf of Meath Accessible Transport to raise awareness of the problem. The Co Meath representative said he was told there would be no concessions for workers accompanying paid ticket holders as they had made a donation to the Irish Wheelchair Association.
Mr Green said they allocated nine tickets to Meath Accessible Transport, which represents several disabled campaign groups, after correspondence in July. In a statement the promoters said: "We would have hoped that a public representative of such long standing would have made a more thoughtful, and less opportunistic, intervention."
Legendary guitarist Jimmy Page has snubbed the chance of seeing Madonna on her re-Invention tour for free. The Led Zeppelin rocker was offered tickets by two of Madonna's guitarists as he opened a new Virgin store in London.
The backing musicians were desperate to lure their hero to one of the Material Girl's London dates - but he politely refused.
A source says, "They brought along some concert tickets and said they'd love it if he came along. "Jimmy apparently said, 'Thanks, but no thanks.'"
Madonna fans have been told to keep clear of the dangerous waters of the Boyne River by the owner of Slane Castle.
The Irish coastguard unit Gardai will patrolling the flooded waters to ensure there is no trouble as 80,000 fans gather for the queen of pop first ever concert.
Lord Henry Mount Charles, the owner of the historic County Meath Castle said: "The Boyne is a hungry river, it is reputed to claim 12 lives a year, not I might add, on concert days.
"Though we have had some very unfortunate incidents. People look at it and admire it, but don't go near it. At some of the previous tragedies people have had tickets in their pockets and that is just crazy stuff."
Chief Superintendent Michael Finnegan, who is heading the security operation, said the river is flooded and even more dangerous than usual.
A team of 120 Gardai including the drugs unit with dogs, the mounted unit, the Garda sub-aqua team and crowd control officers will be policing the village from Saturday onwards.
Superintendent Finnegan said: "The Garda operation has served us well in the last number of years with Robbie Williams and U2."
He said there will be a strong Garda presence from Saturday afternoon to the early hours of Monday morning.
He warned fans that there will be a special sitting of Navan Court on Sunday afternoon and drugs and drink-driving laws will be thoroughly enforced.
Residents in the village of Slane are relaxed ahead of this year's huge open air concert with Madonna's performance guaranteed to draw both parents and children alike.
As miles of steel fencing was erected around the castle venue many of the local business owners said they were expecting an older more mature crowd to turn out for the star, whose career has spanned three-decades.
"There are a lot of kids being kept at home and the parents are going to the actual concert," laughed Michelle Matthews of the Conyngham Arms Hotel in the town.
"We are expecting a more mature crowd than in previous years, people between 25 to 35 to 40. Any residences that have been booked have been of an older age group," the hotel owner said.
Even though the 80,000 tickets are not yet sold out for Madonna's first ever Irish concert, the hotel owner said businesses would do a strong trade for the Sunday concert.
Ms Matthews said that every B&B, guesthouse and hotel across the entire Co Meath area from Drogheda to Navan was booked out.
Colette Gallagher, a barmaid in the Boyne Valley Inn, said people feel that the 46-year-old singer would attract an older crowd and the young people may not turn out.
"But then again people come for the atmosphere. All the pubs would be jammed. I'm not saying going to be quieter I'm just reckoning that any other year it was sold out," said the 32-year-old, who will spend the weekend behind the bar.
Fans were asked to pay €88.50 for tickets for the Queen of Pop's Reinvention concert on August 29 and promoters said 95% of the 80,000 allocation have been snapped up.
In other years the tickets for Robbie Williams, U2 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the venue located just 30-minutes from Dublin were sold out within hours.
Ms Gallagher said there was a buzz about the town, which is home to around 1,200 people, as Slane Castle prepared to host the ultimate material girl.
" Yea I think it will be fairly peaceful the worst one was the Bob Dylan concert but you will get the odd row. Last year was very peaceful and I hope that this year will be as well."
Though everyone admits that for the older residents in the area it is a restriction and for some a very worrisome weekend.
Des Smyth, who runs a Londis foodstore and garage in the town, said he did not mean to be negative or a spoilsport about the concert.
He added: "I consider it a nightmare the crowd, I don't look forward to it as the crowd is too big. It is a huge imposition on peoples daily lives especially for old people who feel intimidated. The barriers are there to project them but it extenuates the siege aspects of it."
Gardaí said there would be a huge security operation with 120 gardaí on duty at any one time.
The owner of Slane Castle, Lord Henry Mount Charles, said: "We took on board their concerns. The issue obviously was that the concert was being played on a Sunday. The last time that happened was 20 years ago and there was a very different scenario in operation. There was a very much lower level of policing."
He said everyone realised what went wrong at the Bob Dylan concert in 1984 where there were riots.
"I'm confident it will go according to plan," he said.
The Slane Castle owner would not reveal if the ultimate material girl was going to avail of the stately bedrooms at his historic castle.
R.E.M., the Dixie Chicks and Maroon 5 are singing for a considerably younger audience on a new compilation album, Mary Had a Little Amp, set for an October 5th release. The collection features prominent artists issuing new songs or re-interpreting children's classics to benefit People for the American Way's Project Kid Smart and Start Smart America. The organizations are working to guarantee preschool education for all American children.
"Obviously musicians have a power to bring an issue at least into the public's view," says Julie Burton, Project Kid Smart director and compilation co-organizer. "We talked to the Dixie Chicks and we asked them to consider doing this with us. They really stepped to the plate and said, 'Yes, let's see if we can make it happen.'"
The Dixie Chicks contribute a new rendition of the Kermit the Frog classic "Rainbow Connection," drawing on their experience as mothers. "Maybe the most miraculous thing about being a mother is seeing the incredible capacity a young child has to learn," the trio said in a statement. "Imagine if all children in our country had the chance to go to a good school early on."
R.E.M's offering, "We Walk," is a fitting one, as the band debuted the song on children's network Nickelodeon in 1983. "I've always thought it was a neat little gem," says band manager Bertis Downs, who sits on the board of People for the American Way. "It was never a single or anybody's idea of a commercial song, but it's cool, and it's kind of a kid's song."
Other album highlights include a rare version of Graham Nash's "Teach Your Children," which Burton describes as "the coda to the whole CD" and Maroon 5's take on "Pure Imagination," a song from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Mary also boasts new songs by Moby, a collaboration between Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson about "Superman and flying over buildings" and Jack Johnson's re-working of the "3 Rs Song."
"This was not a hard issue to approach the artists with," Burton says, "because children are our future."
The Mary Had a Little Amp track listing:
"Sing Along," Blue Man Group featuring Dave Matthews
"Baby Mine," Bonnie Raitt
"Rainbow Connection," Dixie Chicks
"Teach Your Children," Graham Nash
"Wild Wild Party in the Loquat Tree," Indigo Girls
"3 Rs Song," Jack Johnson
"When You Wish Upon a Star," Joe Henry
"Gentle Breeze," Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson
"Little Star," Madonna
"Pure Imagination," Maroon 5
"Lifeline," Nancy and Ann Wilson with Brian Wilson's band
"We Walk," R.E.M.
"How to Be Strong," Roseanne Cash
Michael Jackson once went to great pains to buy the bones of the so-called Elephant Man, but Madonna looks set to go him one better -- by becoming the proud owner of the corpse of one of Jackie Kennedy's exes.
The Material Girl has reportedly been mulling over a real-estate deal that would give her a private Greek island, one that just happens to include the grave of multi-billionaire Aristotle Onassis.
Madonna has made several trips to the isla bonita, but is said to be a bit concerned about the mortgage payments one would have to shell out on a $300 million purchase. We don't see any reason for concern, since the residuals from Swept Away should take care of the first fifteen minutes or so...
Madonna and m-Qube have made it possible for the star's North American fans to download polyphonic ring tones and other licensed mobile content from her official Web site, across most major carriers and without the need for a credit card. The mobile company said this was the first artist-driven online store of its kind.
"Madonna sees the future of the music business tied intimately to the wireless space and doing this deal is the first step of many to utilize the robust capabilities of mobile phones," Madonna's manager Caresse Henry said.
Visitors to Madonna.com can purchase the handset-personalization products just by providing their mobile phone number and handset type. The charges appear on their wireless bill.
Andrew Miller, m-Qube's senior vp business development, said being chosen by an artist like Madonna validated his company's mobile storefront strategy and the importance of cross-carrier premium billing solutions.
"It's Madonna's music, so the store is going to be her way, on her terms," he said. "This is not through the label. This is working directly through the artist. When fans think of Madonna, they will think of the music and her Web site, not their phone company."
This approach is not suitable for all artists, he added, but is particularly appropriate for someone of Madonna's iconic stature. Participating in her own store also gives her a larger share of the proceeds because there is no label involvement.
Direct premium billing means that consumers who do not have or choose not to use a credit card are able to purchase the products. "In some territories we offer customers both credit card and carrier-billed options, and about 90% choose carrier-billed," Miller said.
M-Qube is headquartered in Boston with offices in Redmond, Wash., and Toronto. The company's strategic wireless partners include Verizon Wireless, Cingular Wireless, Sprint PCS, AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile USA, Nextel Communications, Cincinnati Bell Wireless, Bell Mobility, Rogers Wireless, Telus Mobility, Microcell, SaskTel, MTS and Aliant Mobility.
It's not often I'm genuinely star struck but when I was granted an audience with the Queen Of Pop it was a different matter.
I got backstage on the first night of Madonna's London concerts — and met my childhood hero. And I'm thrilled to reveal that she didn't disappoint me.
She was funny, charming and, of course, a little bit bossy. Her mere presence dominated the room. I presented the Queen Of Pop with a special Bizarre gong for Gig Of The Year for the sensational opening night in Los Angeles of her Re-Invention world tour.
And just before she leapt on stage to the opening chords of Vogue, she ordered me to "strike a pose" as my snapper took pictures of us.
Madonna told me: "I feel a little bit nervous about this - but thank you so much for the award. I hope you like the show as much as the first one. And, hey, I'm glad you wore matching boots to mine — now we're best friends."
Madonna celebrated her 46th birthday on Monday night with hubby Guy Ritchie and some of the tour crew at over-priced posh London restaurant Sketch.
But when I asked what she thought of the food, she replied: "Oh, I didn't eat it. I don't really eat food in restaurants - you can never be quite sure what's in it, can you?"
Madge, who follows a strict macrobiotic diet, looked sensational in her Christian Lacroix basque and fishnet tights as we chatted backstage.
Guy was happily talking to all the dancers in their amazing costumes as they limbered up. There were also several stars backstage who had turned up to see the singer in all her glory.
Her best pal Stella McCartney was in the audience and got a dedication from Madge at the start of Crazy For You. Kylie Minogue caused a huge commotion in the camped-up crowd as she took her seat at Earls Court Arena with her little sister Danii.
Other stars boozing backstage afterwards included U2, Sugababes, Leah Wood and fashion designer Matthew Williamson.
Madonna - the biggest-selling female solo artist ever thrilled fans with an amazing set list of songs spanning her two decades at the top.
There was everything from Hanky Panky to Holiday to Hollywood — proving that unlike most of today's wannabe pop muppets, Madge is a real hit machine. My personal highlight was towards the end of the show when, dressed in a kilt, Madonna tore around the stage for a medley of Into The Groove and Papa Don't Preach.
It was impossible to sit down and, in fact, most fans danced throughout the entire show.
At the end Madonna, who now lives in the UK with Guy, told the sell-out crowd: "It's good to be home." It's good to have you here, Madge.
Portugal's state rail operator CP said it would operate a special train to take Madonna fans from northern second city Oporto to Lisbon for the pop superstar's first-ever concert in the country on September 13. Return tickets will cost 21 euros (26 dollars), the company said in a statement.
The company does not have plans to operate a similar service on the following day when the top-selling singer will close her "Re-Invention" world tour with a second performance in the Portuguese capital. Only one Lisbon date was originally planned, but a second was quickly added in response to big public demand for tickets.
The self-proclaimed Material Girl kicked off the European leg of her tour, which began in Los Angeles in May, on Saturday [Aug 14th] with the first of two concerts in Manchester, northern England. After Manchester the 45-year-old singer is to perform in her adopted hometown of London, followed by appearances in Dublin, Paris, Arnhem in the Netherlands, and finally Lisbon.
Could Madonna and Kabbalah be kaput? One insider tells Star Magazine that Esther, as she's known in those circles, is becoming disillusioned with The Kabbalah Centre. The source says, "She's upset that they've been marketing off of her. She's tired of them constantly coming to the well for money, and she was furious they leaked she was going to Israel. She's over it."
Hubby Guy Ritchie may have had enough, too. When Madonna recently performed in Fort Lauderdale, Ritchie reportedly got into a scuffle with one of the Kabbalah rabbis, who kept interrupting him when he was talking to the missus.
Pop legend Madonna's father Silvio Ciccone is proud that his daughter has changed her ways and settled down with a family. But Ciccone still finds it hard to believe the middle-aged mother-of-two is the same girl that he raised in Michigan.
Ciccone says, "It's true, she's a good wife. When I see her with Guy (Ritchie), I can't get it in my head that she's the same girl I raised. She was hell on wheels when she was younger. "Now she's got this marriage and I'm proud that she's been able to keep it going this long."
British actor Rupert Everett has leapt to the defence of famous friend Madonna over her conversion to the controversial Kabbalah faith. Madonna began studying the controversial offshoot of Judaism in 1997 and has managed to encourage her film director husband to embrace the mystical teachings.
Her attempts to convert the spiritually confused Britney Spears seem to have failed, but Madonna's Next Best Thing co-star and pal Everett can see the positive affect her new found faith has had on the Music superstar. He says, "It's made her much, much softer."
Madonna has spent thousands of pounds to buy a rare 12th century book on the Kabbalah religion as a gift for Britney Spears, according to reports. Britney has kept the Zohar text with her at all times since Madonna sent it to her, according to The Sun.
Both singers are devotees of the Jewish-based religion. Britney said the Zohar book, which offers philosophy for life as well as astrology and numerology, paints "a bigger picture than even the Bible." "It's just so interesting to me because I've never read that stuff before," she said.
A friend told The Sun: "Madonna has always looked out for Britney. "When Britney was going through a tough time earlier in the year, Madonna used Kabbalah teachings to help her through. "Britney was delighted with the book. She has read it thoroughly and seems completely taken with it."
Check here for a public information notice about the concert at Slane Castle. It notes that gates will open at 4pm. Opening acts are Paul Oakenfold (5pm to 6pm) and Iggy Pop & The Stooges (6.30pm to 7.30pm). Madonna will be on stage around 8.30pm.
The notice also warns for forged tickets, gives a route description and transportation tips, and lists some "do's and do not's". Too bad they didn't notice they listed the wrong year for the gig... ;-p
On the occasion of Madonna's re-Invention Tour in Europe, a new Madonna book is released entitled: "MADONNA LIVE !"
The book contains 128 pages, is printed on thick paper, has a hard cartonboard cover and lots of pictures from the re-Invention Tour. The book includes the following chapters :
2. the building-up to the Madonna re-Invention Tour 2004
3. the Madonna re-Invention Tour 2004 in America
4. the start of the Madonna re-Invention Tour 2004 in Europe
The book is priced only 5 euros, and is a must-have for all Madonna fans. You can order the book via email email@example.com and choose your language English, French or Dutch.
You will receive an e-mail with all the payment information, afterwards the book will be send by postal services. Enjoy the Madonna re-Invention Tour 2004!
Pop star and actress Madonna has been using a medieval-style wooden 'rack' to tone her physique. According to Britain's The Daily Star she pays $120 an hour for private sessions on the Gyrotonic Expansion System.
The newspaper reckons it is responsible for her new muscular look and says her breasts have also grown. The device - nicknamed "The Rack" - is designed to stretch and strengthen muscles all over the body. It was invented by Romanian ballet dancer Juliu Horvath to prepare dancers for the stage.
Madonna has reportedly been working out for up to 90 minutes at a time on the machine at a studio in London's St John's Wood. Madonna's muscular physique was the talk of the evening this week when she celebrated her 46th birthday with her husband at a London restaurant.
Madonna wore a sleeveless satin evening gown, revealing her toned arms, when she and hubby Guy Ritchie, 35, dined at the Sketch Club in London's West End. "She looked in tremendous shape for someone of her age. Her arms were positively rippling with muscle," said a fellow diner.
Madonna and her husband, filmmaker Guy Ritchie, will spend Rosh Hashana in Israel, it was confirmed Monday by Rabbi Yehuda Berg, co-director of the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles. The couple will spend two days, primarily at the associated Kabbalah Centre in Tel Aviv, Berg said.
However, he denied Israeli press reports that Madonna and Ritchie would meet with Kabbalah sage Rabbi Yitzhak Kadouri while in Israel to seek spiritual guidance. Madonna, who recently adopted the Jewish name of Esther, has been a frequent visitor at the Los Angeles Kabbalah Centre and has taken courses there.
Her series of children's books, the latest of which was published last month, claims the Kabbalah and Judaism as inspiration. Britney Spears, Demi Moore, and Paris Hilton have also taken classes, Berg confirmed.
Not really an article on Madonna, but rather her fans, especially her lookalikes and wannabes. Thanks again to Flo from France.
To celebrate the re-Invention tour, Belgian artist Leanardo Leno painted seven beautiful Madonna paintings. During a press conference on On friday, August 6th, the paintings were donated to 7 Belgian celebrities who all had some kind of connection with Madonna.
Among them were singers Kate Ryan, Roxane and Sylver, who always named Madonna as one of their major influences, and radio Donna DJs Caren Meynen and Jan Bosman. During the press conference, each one of them gave their own vision on Madonna. Each of the paintings represent a certain aspect of La Ciccone.
Dona Lisa M
No Shame Of Experience
The paintings will be auctioned on eBay and profits will go to Donxa, a charity organisation that fights poverty among Vietnamese children. Meanwhile, the paintings are on display in the Mercure Grand Hotel Royal Crown in Brussels.
Visitors have the chance to win a ticket for the second show in Arnhem. After September 7th, the art work can be seen at the Crowne Mercure in Arnhem.
Our lovely French assistant Flo has sent us scans of the French magazine Marie Claire, which features Madonna on the cover (the well known Dah Len picture from 2000).
The 4-page article talks mostly about the death of Madonna's mother and the effect on her life and career, and about her recent projects and private life.
Madonna.com has posted the original article that Liz Rosenberg wrote for Vogue Magazine. Enjoy!
"You don't know whether to kiss me or to hit me. I get a lot of that". So uttered a very sexy Madonna in her Breathless Mahoney role while talking to crime fighter Dick Tracy and boyfriend at the time, Warren Beatty, resplendent in his yellow trench coat) in the film Dick Tracy.
If ever one lined summed up the media's love/hate affair with Madonna over the last 22 years, that one says it just perfectly. Having had a front row seat to this affair and often actually standing between the Material Girl and the press who continue to love her, worship her, trivialize her, criticize her, say she's over and continue to write about her, begrudgingly respect her, still not sure of her talent - even with over two decades of solid hit songs, I can assure you it's been a very wild and ever fascinating journey.
Although being crushed against a glass wall at the Cannes Film Festival while the paparazzi brought their full force to shooting Madonna in her bullet bra was a little more than I bargained for years ago.
I can remember as if it were yesterday when this ball of fire strolled into my office a bit like a Christmas tree fabulously accessorized in the middle of the summer, many incarnations and lifetimes ago.
That hair ("It always looks the best after not washing it for 8 days"), the black rubber bracelets and torn tights ("oh everyone's wearing them downtown"), the crucifixes that she either wore or carried around in a pillowcase ("Jesus is sexy"), the attitude - "No one's telling me what to wear," screamed Madonna at her first photo shoot with famed lenseman Francesco Scavullo. In some ways, she's exactly the same.
She was fearless when nobody knew who the hell Madonna was and she continues to be unafraid of what people think of her music or her mind. Though at the start, Madonna had no problem hitting you over the head with her message if that's what it took to make you a believer. Her current commitment to Kaballah may have taught her that delivering her messages whether political or person in nature might best be expressed in a gentler way.
Her fierce loyalty to what and whom she believes in is ever-present but she 'expresses herself' packaged with a softer hand that make no mistake 'still wants to bring you to a higher ground'. The sheer force of her power has audiences leaving her new show in total awe - but not much different that the 3000 screaming gay boys at a disco in lower Manhattan in l982 when the blonde bombshell was singing "Lucky Star" to an instrumental track at 5:00 in the morning.
But what makes Madonna happiest these days, I asked her recently. "Oh, probably the sound of my daughter reading me a poem in French", Said Madonna softly. "Well is there anything else you still wish for", I inquired? "How about no more wars, for starters? How about everyone going to see Michael Moore's new movie? What about my kids bringing their dishes to the sink after they're done eating?" she said in no particular order.
There's no question that an enormous part of her happiness these days can be seen on stage where Madonna has been most nights performing her current extravaganza "The Reinvention Tour". "I finally decided to take my own personal look back on my music and my videos - really revisit them but put a new twist on them. I sat down with my manager and best friend, Caresse Henry to figure it all out.
Next Jamie King, my director met with Caresse and I at my house. He arrived with a shoebox in which he created his vision of the show. I wanted to incorporate many elements of the Kaballah, my feelings about war in general and George Bush in particular. I wanted to enlighten and entertain the audience. I wanted it to be an assault on the senses. I wanted to perform in Israel for the Jews and the Palestinians at one show.
Unfortunately my manager nixed that one due to security concerns. One of my goals was that every person in the audience should leave knowing that each of them could make a difference in this world. I wanted to thank my fans for their loyalty over the last 20 years and I think this show is my personal thank you to them, said Madonna after her third cup of coffee one morning.
Having seen literally hundreds of Madonna performances since the day that Christmas tree walked into my office, I still cry when she sings "Like a Prayer" and still shake my booty to "Get Into The Groove" amidst 20,000 other Madonna fans. And what of the media and their response? Madonna never reads any of her reviews, which I think is a great idea. H
er reviews are the love the audience sends up to her on that stage. I, of course, can't stop reading the reviews - so many of them still begrudgingly giving it up to her. I don't know an artist, aside from the Beatles or Elvis who can claim such an impressive number of hit songs that served as such an important influence and backdrop in people's lives.
What a body of work - and what a body is what I often say to myself while I continue to marvel at her stamina, her singing, her dancing, her beauty and her grace. Though Madonna has claimed that some of her cultural statements in the past were "pure exhibitionism", there's no question that her influence on female self-empowerment has changed the world. Perhaps this is threatening to some of the male critics.
No one can deny that she's opened more minds and more hearts as an artist and an educator about expressing yourself, believing in your dreams and fighting for them if necessary. Even the newest generation of little children has the chance to be enlightened by her series of children's books. The latest, "Yakov and the Seven Thieves" shows an eternally optimistic Madonna that even "naughty people" have something to offer this world. "I'm naughty child No. l", laughed Madonna.
So what's the most important life lesson to learn, I asked Madonna before one of her shows. "My Kaballah teacher taught me that whenever in doubt about anything, 'act like God'. And how would God act? He would be caring and loving. I try to be both and if there's one lesson I can teach the world, that would be it." Amen
Special thanks to Jim Radenhausen and the MIR for providing the final stats for Re-Invention Tour (N. America):
1. Inglewood, Calif.: $6,965,055 - 3 shows/43,158 attendance
2. Las Vegas, Nev.: $7,005,548 - 2 shows/28,341 attendance
3. Anaheim, Calif.: $4,164,450 - 2 shows/24,250 attendance
4. San Jose, Calif.: $5,543,715 - 3 shows/40,205 attendance
5. Washington, D.C.: $3,486,684 - 2 shows/26,788 attendance
6. New York, New York: $12,674,925 - 6 shows/88,625 attendance
7. Boston/Worcester, Mass.: $6,439,890 - 4 shows/46,075 attendance
8. Philadelphia, Pa.: $4,134,478 - 2 shows/30,575 attendance
9. East Rutherford, N.J.: $4,437,345 - 2 shows/29,315 attendance
10. Chicago, Ill.: $7,894,105 - 4 shows/59,591 attendance
11. Toronto: $5,322,703 - 3 shows/52,167 attendance
12. Atlanta: $3,450,874 - 2 shows/25,627 attendance
13. Fort Lauderdale/Sunrise, Fla.: $3,834,522 - 2 shows/28,208 attendance
14. Miami, Fla.: $4,145,760 - 2 shows/30,580 attendance
Totals for North American leg - 39 shows reported to Billboard - $79,500,054 - 553,505 tickets
Pop superstar Madonna is celebrating her 46th birthday today (16 AUG 04) by treating her friends to a succession of expensive health treatments.
The Material Girl is spending a staggering $5,400 (GBP3,000) on amethyst crystal steam-rooms, vitality pools, massages, hot stone treatments and zen relaxation areas at some of her favourite London spas, so she can unwind before her eagerly-awaited Re-Invention tour dates in the capital this weekend (21-22 AUG 04).
A close source says, "She is really generous and figured since she's been on tour, she fancied a relaxing birthday. She has insisted on paying for everything and that all the massages and facials will be her treat.
"It's her way of thanking them for being the most important women in her life and for always being there for her. They have booked up different spas in discreet places so she isn't photographed in her toweling robe and slippers."
Yesterday at the second show in Manchester, fans surprised Madonna by singing Happy Birthday between two songs. It started out as a plan by some fans who then involved Madonna's management and tour team. A clearly moved Madonna thanked the crowd and dedicated the next song to all her fans. More details in our tour diary.
Congrats to all the fans who made that wonderful surprise happen!
The Mad-Eyes team wishes Madonna a fantastic 46th birthday!
Yesterday evening, Madonna kicked off the European leg of her re-Invention tour with aa first concert at the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester. Check out our updated tour diary for more (contains spoilers).
Robbie Williams' Angels has come top of a list of songs which should have made it to number one but never did. Released in December 1997, the ballad only got to number four while the top slot was taken by children's favourite The Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh!
Music fans have compiled a list of 50 songs which should have made it to the top of the UK charts but failed. Stars who were unfairly denied a number one include pop queen Madonna, rockers Bon Jovi and Oasis.
The Guns n' Roses classic Sweet Child O' Mine became a rock anthem following its release in 1988. But the song , which takes 20th place in the poll for TV music channel VH1, only made it to 24th place in the UK Chart.
Other songs which should have made it to number one but didn't include U2 ballad With or Without You. It only reached number four in 1987. A-Ha's Take on Me, which reached number two but was denied a number one by David Bowie and Mick Jagger's Dancing in the Street, is also on the list.
Queen's I Want to Break Free, which got to number three when the number one was Hello by Lionel Richie, also makes it into the poll. Michael Jackson's Thriller, which went to number 10, takes ninth place in the poll alongside the troubled star's Smooth Criminal, which peaked at number eight.
Others in the list are Madonna's Ray of Light - which reached number two in 1998 and was beaten to number one by All Saints' Under the Bridge/Lady Marmalade; and Bon Jovi's Livin on a Prayer, which reached number four in 1986, when Every Loser Wins by ex-EastEnders star Nick Berry claimed number one.
The Oasis hit Wonderwall, which reached number two and was denied the number one by Robson and Jerome's I Believe/Up on the Roof and Queen's Radio Ga Ga, which reached number two and was denied number one by Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Relax, should have also made the top slot, according to music fans.
Madonna has stepped in to save her father's ailing wine business - with a $900,000 (€737,500) lump sum. The Material Girl handed over the cash to stop dad Tony Ciccone's vineyard from closing down.
The generous 45-year-old was persuaded to help out because her husband, film director Guy Ritchie, didn't want to be without his favourite wine - Ciccone's 2002 Dolcetto and Pinot Noir. And proud dad Ciccone has made his famous daughter the major shareholder, to thank her for her kindness.
An insider says: "Madonna hasn't always had the best relationship with her father but she is very close with him now. When she learned the company wasn't doing so well she decided to step into the fray. "But Tony is a very proud man and didn't want to accept charity, so he made her a major shareholder in Ciccone Vineyard.
She was a little reluctant at the start but Guy is a huge fan of the Pinot Noir - Tony has been sending them bottles for Christmas for years. "He couldn't bear to be without it, so he convinced Madonna to put some money in."
Madonna fans have hit out at the superstar after she turned down the air conditioning at shows during her Reinvention tour. The Material Girl has received numerous complaints from members of the audience, who say her gigs were too hot to enjoy the performance.
But it's not just the fans that are feeling the heat - her dancers have also complained about their sweaty working conditions. But John Page, director of Wachovia Centre - where Madonna played on the 4th and 5th of July - insists that, hot or not, the fans still had a fantastic time.
He says, "We limited the air conditioning during the show and it warmed up a bit, but everyone got Into The Groove and enjoyed the Holiday"
The rumours about Madonna attending the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Athens tomorrow evening are persistent.
WBEX reports: "A string of A-list celebrities including Tom Cruise, Madonna and Brad Pitt are flying to the Greek capital Athens ahead of the opening ceremony of the Olympics this Friday. The list includes Angelina Jolie, a pregnant Julia Roberts, David and Victoria Beckham, Britney Spears, Jack Nicholson, Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone and members of the British Royal Family.
Hollywood stars Roberts and Nicholson have rented villas about 35 miles from Athens, whereas soccer star Beckham and his ex-Spice Girls wife have already booked a suite aboard the Queen Mary II - the world's most luxurious cruise ship - which will dock at the city's Piraeus port.
Spears, her fiance, and twelve of her pals have also taken to the water - renting a luxury yacht to cruise around the Greek Islands.
Pop queen Madonna has also booked a yacht and villa in the area.
However these high profile guests will add more pressure to the already stretched security budget.
The Greek government have already spent three times more on security than organisers of the last games in Sydney, Australia four years ago - with the bill already exceeding a massive $900 million."
Madonna fan and connaisseur Bruce Baron has mailed us the link to his page at Wikipedia, where he has collected all his information about unreleased Madonna songs.
Bruce has written many articles before about the different tracks that were recorded by Madonna but never released.
Now you can find all this interesting information on one place! Certainly worth a look - thanks for the great effort Bruce!
Special thanks to Madonnafan and loyal Mad-Eyes contributor Flo from France, who has scanned the 6-page Madonna article that appeared in the latest issue of Femme Actuelle. The article (in French) talks about her 20 years of succesfull career (though they sometimes exagerate talking about 25 years!) and her personal life throughout those years. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.
Pop queen Madonna's latest fad is downing pints of Guinness before her live Re-Invention concerts. She has embraced many aspects of British and Irish culture since moving to England with husband Guy Ritchie and has developed a penchant for the dark stout. A close source says: "She finds it perks her up for a live performance and gives her an extra edge.
"She has to have it in a proper pint glass and chilled to exactly the right temperature before she will drink it. "She's even got some of her crew on the same ritual. They all swear by it." The Kabbalah-loving megastar also insists on praying for 30 minutes to aid her performance.
Madonna has demanded a special "peace room" to be built backstage at her upcoming UK gigs. She wants a soundproof area where she can meditate and go into a trance before going on stage, according to The Sun.
The 45-year-old superstar is a devotee of the mystical Jewish Kabbalah religion. The paper says the walls of the room must be draped in green sheeting and have soft cushions on the floor. It quotes "an insider" as saying: "She doesn't want to hear a pin drop and it needs to be green - the colour most conducive to meditation. "She calls it her peace room."
The room is reportedly being set up at the Manchester Evening News Arena, where Madonna plays two concerts this weekend. She also has six other dates on her British tour.
Religious convert or not, the original Material Girl is proving she is still high maintenance long before she sets foot on Irish soil.
A pilates stretch ball, something called Throat coat tea and no less than 25 crates of healing Kabbalah water are just some of the backstage demands from Madonna for her one-night concert at Slane Castle in Co Meath.
Apparently, the fact that the gig has still failed to sell out has not stunted her capacity to play the pop diva, with special requests for ricola cough drops, if you don't mind, to soothe her expensive throat.
Having committed to paying the queen of pop an estimated 4m euros for the August 29 concert, organisers are now being asked to attend to her every whim.
Perhaps the most surprising item on the singer's so-called rider is her stipulation that the back-stage provisions should include vodka, hardly the tipple of choice for a yoga-loving health fanatic.
But fans needs not gasp in horror at this revelation - Madonna plans to use the high-alcohol spirit to remove unwanted stains from her stage clothes.
Why spend any of those millions on a dry-cleaning service when you can use a bit of the colourless fluid most of us would prefer to see in a glass with ice. It is not clear whether Madge prefers Smirnoff or Stoli for stain-removal.
To be fair, Madonna's backstage demand list is nothing extraordinary compared to other international pop divas and rock stars. The infamous J-Lo specifies Evian water at room temperature and a host of foodstuffs including Apple Pie a-la-Mode.
Janet Jackson betrayed her guzzling by demanding four gallons of spring water, but without the healing energies and positive vibes associated with Madonna's favourite brand.
Still, Madge brings her own unique style to the backstage wish-list, warning organisers MCD that her precious pilates stretch ball will take eight minutes to warm-up.
The 45-year-old singer, on the other hand, will require just short of an hour to get her hair and make-up stage perfect, even with the help of an entourage of 110 people.
Madonna's upcoming pilgrimage to Israel for a Kabbalah spiritual retreat has raised questions over the nature of her faith—has the self-proclaimed Material Girl really embraced the traditions of ancient Jewish mysticism or is this simply the latest glitterati self-help fad?
In a bid to shed something of her former raunchy image, the US pop diva in 1997 began looking into Kabbalah—or at least a modern version of it—rapidly becoming one of its most high-profile faces.
Symbols of Madonna's deepening 'faith' are readily apparent—religious Jewish symbols and Hebrew letters feature in many of her more recent pop videos and she is rarely seen without the trademark red string around her wrist to ward off the evil eye.
Two months ago, she changed her name to Esther and is now reportedly observing the Jewish sabbath.
Madonna's conversion came about after she came into contact with the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Center which, according to its website, offers a path to spiritual enlightenment through an eclectic mix of Orthodox Jewish tradition, visualization and positive thinking.
Through meditation on the 'cosmic energy' emitted by the Hebrew alphabet, the site said, adherents can gain 'inner peace, financial prosperity, power and pleasure,' among other things.
Despite its obvious Jewish character, this westernized version of Kabbalah has attracted a panopoly of non-Jewish celebrities, such as Britney Spears, Demi Moore, Elizabeth Taylor and Mick Jagger.
And now Madonna's spiritual odyssey looks set to bring her and several thousand others to Israel in mid-September over the Jewish New Year.
Not everyone is happy with Madge's attachment to Jewish mysticism, with religious scholars at pains to point out that this 'popularized' version of Kabbalah is a far cry from the Orthodox spirituality prescribed by the sages of old.
An esoteric offshoot of Judaism, Kabbalah's origins can be traced back to the 12th and 13th centuries when its central text, the Zohar, was penned.
Taught only to a select few—namely, pious Jewish males over the age of 40 who had spent a lifetime immersed in the study of Hebrew texts—study of Kabbalah required arduous meditation and a strictly ascetic lifestyle.
Little wonder then that the Kabbalah Center's scented candles for banishing depression or improving your sex life, not to mention its specially-blessed Kabbalah spring water, has been greeted with ill-disguised contempt by many Orthodox Jews.
If the 45-year-old singer was hoping to use her upcoming visit to Israel to swap notes with Rabbi Yitzhak Keduri, one of Israel's most venerated adherents of Kabbalah, she is set to be disappointed.
"I don't know her, I don't know of her and I won't see her," Keduri told the Maariv daily recently, pointing out that the study of Kabbalah was not open to women or to non-Jews.
"Kabbalah is an added mystical tier to Judaism, which comes after there is a total acceptance of a religious lifestyle and a religious value system," Rabbi Shlomo Rifkin told Agence France-Presse.
The traditional idea is that anyone studying Kabbalah must first be a mature, practicing Jew, explained Rifkin, chief rabbi of the Efrat settlement in the southern West Bank.
"Maturity is important because some people can get wrapped up in the esoteric spirituality which can sometimes be cheapened into general love fests, or debauchery," he warned.
"In the Hollywood sense, the people who are accepting Kabbalah with such alacrity, such as Madonna, are taking many of the mystical concepts but not necessarily the unique lifestyle."
Jerusalem-based rabbi Yehoshua Engelman believes the upsurge in popularity of Kabbalah is part of a growing interest across the globe in the deeper meaning of life.
"Just as in the past 30 or 40 years, Buddhism and other religions have become popularized, so a similar thing has happened with Sufism and Kabbalah," Engelman said.
POP queen, Madonna, is still in 'Vogue' with local music fans - even though promoters for her spectacular Irish live debut admit that they can't yet put up those 'sold-out' signs.
Organisers for the US music icon's Slane Castle appearance, on August 29, have hit back at allegations that the concert has been a relative pop flop.
According to UK media claims, Irish ticket sales for the former Material Girl, turned maternal megastar, have been "far slower than expected".
One report said: "The show was predicted to sell-out in record time. But not even half of the tickets were sold by the end of the first day.
"Last year, the Red Hot Chili Peppers sold-out the same venue in two-and-a-half hours."
However, MCD spokesman, Justin Green, dismissed allegations that Madonna's Irish ticket sales had been disappointing and pointed out that there are now "only a limited number" left for the 80,000 capacity gig.
He said: "We are delighted with the sales to date and only wish every artist could sell tickets and break box office records like Madonna has done this year.
"There are only a limited number of tickets available at this stage and thus, this has allowed us to reduce our planned advertising spend by 50pc."
When tickets for the 45-year-old singer's Re-invention tour show at Slane went on sale Ireland's main outlet, Ticketmaster, hired an extra 300 staff to cope with the expected deluge of demand.
More than 30,000 tickets were snapped up within 30 minutes of going on sale on June 18 - with 70pc sold within five days.
But surprisingly, Madonna - the biggest selling female artist of all time - has not measured up to the astonishing Slane box office records set by U2.
In 2001, Bono and the boys sold TWO shows out in 40 minutes and 94 minutes, respectively. Last year, US funk metallers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, also proved to be a Slane sell-out in just two-and-a-half hours.
It is thought that the 88.50 euro (£58.40) price tag for the Madonna show may have put some concert punters off - costing £19 (29 euro) more than the Red Hot Chili Peppers and U2 Slane gigs.
Tickets for indoor Madonna Re-invention concerts in Holland this September cost between £37 to £57.
The 120-date Re-invention World Tour is expected to gross a whopping £70m.
Madonna - 46 years old on August 16 - will take away an estimated two million euro profit from just one night's work at Slane.
~ Correction: the re-Invention tour consists of 56 shows, not 120.
Best-selling children's author Julia Donaldson has slammed Madonna's attempts at writing books for kids, labelling the singer's stories "preachy" and "novelty".
The British writer, whose books Spinderella, The Gruffalo and Follow The Swallow have an army of young fans across the UK, believes the Material Girl only got a publishing deal because of her fame.
Madonna has just released her third book Yakov And The Seven Thieves, based on the teachings of the controversial Kabbalah - a mystical offshoot of Judaism.
The pop queen entered the literary foray in September 2003 with her first kids story The English Roses.
Donaldson says, "I've only had a glance at Madonna's books but they didn't leave me wanting to read more. I didn't think, 'Wow'.
"I doubt if an unknown had sent that script to the publishers, it would have been accepted. It doesn't seem a grabbing or must-have text.
"I think the books are a bit preachy. There's a novelty element to them.
"The first book generated a lot of interest but that was mainly down to who Madonna is. There's no plot or clever structure."
A rigger who was working as part of Madonna's production crew has been injured in an accident during preparations for her latest tour.
The man suffered a broken arm and leg in the accident at Earl's Court.
The London Ambulance Service said the rigger was flown by air ambulance to hospital after falling 30ft.
Madonna begins her UK tour in Manchester on 14 August and is scheduled to play Earl's Court on 18 and 19 August.
An ambulance spokesman said: "We received a call from Earl's Court at 1pm to say that a man had fallen approximately 30ft.
"An ambulance and air ambulance were called and crews were on the scene for around two hours because there were difficulties moving the patient. His main injuries appeared to be to his shoulder and arm."
Madonna's manager Caresse Henry said: "The entire crew, performers and staff, especially Madonna, were very saddened to hear about the accident but are hopeful that he will make a full recovery."
Superstar Madonna has reportedly spent $21.6 million (GBP12 million) on funding a New York Kabbalah Grammer school.
The Material Girl has been a devoted follower of the controversial, mystical offshoot of Judaism since 1997, when she was pregnant with her first child Lourdes. British newspaper The Sun claims Madonna's Kabbalist Grammer School For Children will open in December (04), only a few blocks away from her and husband Guy Ritchie's Manhattan apartment.
A source close to the singer says, "The school has been a dream of Madonna's for some time. "Education means a lot to her and she was keen to make the most of her money by leaving a lasting mark as well as helping kids. "She has been dedicated to putting money away to pay for the building and she's delighted to finally own it.
"The papers have been signed and the school will be opening its doors to the first class in December." Parents who want their five-year-old children to enrol at the school must prove they are Kabbalists before receiving an application form.
After a probing family interview and academic test, parents of accepted pupils will have to pay upwards of $3,600 (GBP2,000) a term. Despite studying regular subjects such as English and maths, Madonna has insisted "spirituality" will be a key theme in all subjects.
Will and Grace star Megan Mullally has laughed off claims she and Madonna are best friends after the Material Girl cameod on the hit comedy. The superstar played Liz - a potential housemate for Mullally's bitchy character Karen - last April (03) and soon after tabloids were speculating the two had struck up a close friendship.
Mullally explains, "We got on well when she was on the show and I interviewed her after that. "It's not like we're in constant communication, but we've got mutual friends and there's possibility of a cocktail or something down the line."
It's not what she wears, but how she wears it that has made the pop singer an idol for two decades.
It's been 21 years since the belly-baring, headband-wearing street urchin with the improbable name of Madonna burst onto the pop music stage.
Two decades later, she is still in the international spotlight. She has evolved from Madonna, the pop tart, to Madonna, the S&M sex maven, to Madge the British wife/children's author, to Esther, the Kabbalah follower.
The adult life of the Bay City, Michigan-born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone has been a spinning top that has generated love and awe (from her fans), hate and disgust (from those who found her merely vulgar) and controversy (enough to fill a book).
Whatever else was going on, though, Madonna and the world of fashion have been inextricably tied together. She has hooked up with designers such as Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Jean-Paul Gaultier (maker of her famous pointy corset bra), to name just a few, and given them name recognition in new circles.
Most people, in fact, were more likely to wonder what Madonna's latest look would be blond Marilyn? brunette Goth? and so on than how her latest single would sound.
"Her image was always more cutting edge than her music," says Anne Bissonnette, curator of the Kent State University Museum. "It was so strong, that, from the start, you could immediately recognize her followers."
And how's this for irony? The woman who made underwear worn as outerwear famous was recently named the best-dressed woman over 40 in Great Britain, by no less than that country's Good Housekeeping magazine.
Well, it could never be said that Madonna's fashion range isn't extraordinarily wide.
She may have worn prim, flowered Prada dresses on her book tour, but on her current concert tour she wears costumes by made by Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney and Christian LaCroix.
That tour features a retrospective of her various looks over the years: from the white lingerie bride look, to pointy-breasted dance warrior, to kilt-wearing schoolgirl run amok.
David Wolfe is one of the world's top fashion forecasters, so he's been paying attention to Madonna, he says, "since when she was Like a Virgin. ' "
Wolfe, creative director of New York's Doneger Group, first saw her on MTV in the mid-1980s.
"We were so easily shocked then," he says. "Her wearing a lacy white bra as an outer garment that was just the beginning of what I think of as an endless succession of what has inspired fashion."
Earlier in her career, Madonna said, "I think I have an original sense of style, and I think that people are unconsciously copying my style. Sometimes, when you see people do that, it's really cute, you know? But sometimes it isn't."
Or, as Wolfe adds dryly, "I'm not sure it's been a great 20 years as far as fashion. She's one of the people who have helped push down the fashion taste level, since she always had to be top banana in the shock department."
But, he acknowledges, "She also was one of the first pop stars to link herself with top fashion names, and she led pop music into high fashion."
Now, of course, one typically sees Beyonce, Christina Aguilera and other pop singers wearing designs by Versace and Dior.
Tom Julian, the New York- based trend analyst for Fallon Worldwide, says Madonna's background in New York City's "underground" was crucial to her becoming someone who popularized trends, including bringing fetish wear out of the closet.
"She had that vantage point and an instinct for how exciting that world was," he says. "She had the mind to extract certain elements from it and to make those elements commercial, relevant and exposed."
Her timing was right, too. Madonna became, and stayed, a star just as fashion designers were themselves becoming celebrities.
"She came of age in a vibrant fashion era," says Julian. "She embraces the fashion darlings designers like Dolce & Gabbana and not only for her concerts. She wore Olivier Theyskens at the Oscars one year and made him a name in fashion."
Bissonnette was in fashion school when Madonna emerged in the mid-1980s.
"Jean-Paul Gaultier was important before, but she sent him to new heights," says Bissonnette. "She had a great ability to select individual designers who had a focus on performance- based garments.
"With Madonna it was always as much about how she wears the clothes, as it is about the clothes themselves."
At first, Madonna mimicked the look of New York's fringe, artsy world: the raggedy, layered thrift-shop look, complete with black leather jacket, multiple rubber bracelets and torn fishnets. Later, her fashion turns were more stark, whether in the androgynous oversized tuxedo in the "Express Yourself" video or as the Hollywood bombshell in her Dick Tracy phase.
But more often than not, Madonna mixed things up. "She appropriated pieces from different designers," Bissonnette explains. In other words, she was never like Cher, who always wore Bob Mackie for big public occasions.
"A bustier is a bustier, but with a crinoline skirt and a funky hairstyle, it becomes something else," adds Bissonnette. "The difference between fashion and style is one's ability to do that, and that's what Madonna has."
Then too, there was her body, which evolved from puppy-fat softness, to articulated musculature to a longer-muscled yoga look.
Bissonnette points out that Madonna's style incorporated her body. She brought an extreme muscular look into the mainstream. "It became OK to look like that," Bissonnette says.
Still, while Madonna might inspire fashion followers, Wolfe says, "I never saw her wearing something first. She'd pick something up, from streetwear, or often, she'd just be wearing an extreme version of something that's come down the runway."
Where she has excelled, he says, "was making the general public aware of trends that otherwise only fashion people were aware of.
"She feels the pulse of fashion she gets it a heartbeat ahead of the general public."
Bissonnette agrees. "She is not a follower, but a leader. It's very hard to maintain that for 20 years, but she has done it."
Wolfe says Madonna is the per fect icon for a population with a short attention span.
"She understood that fashion was speeding up and she encouraged people to change constantly. She never stayed the same long enough for anyone to get bored with her."
Jim Radenhausen, Madonnafan and expert in Madonna statistics has provided us - through the MIR - with the attendencies and grosses of the US shows of the re-Invention tour:
1. Inglewood, Calif.: $6,965,055 - 3 shows / 43,158 attendance
2. Las Vegas, Nev.: $7,005,548 - 2 shows / 28,341 attendance
3. Anaheim, Calif.: $4,164,450 - 2 shows / 24,250 attendance
4. San Jose, Calif.: $5,543,715 - 3 shows / 40,205 attendance
5. Washington, D.C.: ? - 2 shows / ?
6. New York, New York: ? - 6 shows / ?
7. Boston/Worcester, Mass.: $6,439,890 - 4 shows / 46,075 attendance
8. Philadelphia, Pa.: $4,134,478 - 2 shows / 30,575 attendance
9. East Rutherford, N.J.: $4,437,345 - 2 shows / 29,315 attendance
10. Chicago, Ill.: $7,894,105 - 4 shows / 59,591 attendance
11. Toronto: $5,322,703 - 3 shows / 52,167 attendance
12. Atlanta: ? - 2 shows / ?
13. Miami, Fla.: ? - 2 shows / ?
14. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: ? - 2 shows / ?
Totals for 25 shows reported to Billboard: $51,907,289
Since the NJ and Philly averages were $2 million+ per show, I only imagine the NY shows will be as much, if not slightly more. So, that's at least $12 million. For D.C., even using the lower average of $1.65 million, that's at least $3.3 million there.
Using Pollstar's mid-year report- which covered the period through 6/30 (3 Boston shows included, averaging roughly $1.6 million per show)- that leaves roughly $16.4 million for the 8 shows in D.C. and NY. Sounds about right, if the D.C. shows did around $3.5 million+, and the NY shows around $12.5 million+.
The remaining 3 cities should add another $10 million or more to the gross- so, it should end its North American leg with $78-$80 million or so.
A lot of rumours have been circulating about Madonna going to Greece. Greek correspondents have informed us that Greek media are claiming Madonna will be on holiday on the Greek islands with Uma Thurman, Tom Hanks and Angelina Jolie.
Other sources have told us that a hotel room is booked for Madonna, Guy and the children, and that there definitely have been negociations for Madonna to be a guest, possibly performer on the opening ceremony of the Olympics on August 13th. One night before her Manchester show, that would be a nice way to open the European leg of the tour. However, Caresse Henry supposedly has denied all these rumours.
Below is an article from the Macedonian Press Agency:
"A record number of foreign dignitaries are expected to watch the Athens Olympic Games given the fact that the number of applications by personalities from around the world is unprecedented.
According to the Athens newspaper "Apogevmatini", some of the foreign politicians who will come to Athens to watch the Games will be former US President George Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Jacques Chirac, Romanian President Ion Iliescu, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the French Finance Minister, new European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Baroso and former FRG Foreign Minister Mr. Gensher.
Also, present will be former king of Greece Konstantinos, who is a member of the International Olympic Committee, with all his family, Prince Charles and Belgian crown prince Philip with Princess Matilde.
The games will attend the Mayors of New York, Rome, Paris, London and Istanbul invited by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni.
Among the Hollywood stars to watch the games will be Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Sylvester Stalone, Tom Hanks and film director Steven Spielberg. World famous singer Madonna will be in Greece as the guest of one of the Olympic Games sponsors."
~ As usual, we'll have to wait to find out who's right.
Pop music's queen of reinvention has been instrumental in forging Scotland an international reputation as a top wedding destination.
Madonna's wedding to Guy Ritchie placed the quiet Highland town of Dornoch at the centre of a media whirlwind.
Journalists, camera crews and the paparazzi descended on the town desperate for a glimpse of the couple and guests like Gwyneth Paltrow, Donatella Versace and Stella McCartney.
Even before the ceremony at the exclusive Skibo Castle in December 2000, tourism bosses had moved to try and capitalise on the worldwide exposure.
And the latest statistics from Scotland's registrar general, Duncan Macniven, have demonstrated that their efforts were well placed. His annual report for 2003 found that marriages had hit a 10-year high.
Mr Macniven said: "Tourist weddings, that's weddings where neither of the couple is resident in Scotland, are about a third of the total and are increasing progressively. "I think it's something Scotland can be very proud of."
The number of tourism weddings has surged by 10% over a four-year period, rising from 8,174 in 1999 to 8,916 in 2003. Mr Macniven said the rise could be attributed to "the Madonna effect".
Her wedding sparked a mini economic boom and generated an estimated £2.5m for the Sutherland economy at the time. And the benefits of having a picturesque part of the Highlands beamed into homes across the world have proven to be long-lasting.
A spokesman for tourism body VisitScotland said: "It highlighted to people that Scotland is an ideal destination for a wedding. "You just have to look at the fantastic scenery that we have and the picturesque settings in the Highlands, the Borders and across Scotland."
He said Scotland was "right up there with the best of them" as a marriage location. "After the Madonna marriage it was very important to build on the success of her wedding," he said. "We did a lot of marketing of Scotland as a romantic destination and somewhere to come to get married. "It has proven to be a big success, as you can see from the figures increasing."
In the days before the ceremony, the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board launched a special website to promote the area as a wedding destination. The marketing push has continued since then, with VisitScotland this year launching a new website which aims to highlight Scotland's romantic side as a setting for short breaks, weddings and honeymoons.
Other celebrity weddings have followed the Madonna marriage, increasing Scotland's profile yet further. Racing driver Dario Franchitti and American actress Ashley Judd were also married at Skibo Castle amid tight secrecy the following year.
Last year fashion designer Stella McCartney, one of Madonna's guests, married publisher Alasdhair Willis on Bute in another celebrity-studded ceremony. Long before Dornoch took its turn in the spotlight, Gretna Green was the location synonymous with marriages in Scotland.
Its history as a destination for eloping couples dates back to the passing of the 1754 Marriage Act in England. It made it illegal for a couple to marry without parental consent if either party was under 21. To avoid the law, young lovers travelled over the border to take advantage of Scotland's more lenient laws.
For more than a century the ceremonies were often conducted by a blacksmith priest over an anvil. Sheila Wallace, senior registrar at Gretna, said people were attracted to Gretna because of its history rather than as a result of celebrity marriages. However, she said another factor identified in Mr Macniven's report did have an impact on the town.
He suggested that a new law which came into effect in 2002, allowing non-religious marriages outside of registration offices, may have contributed to a rise in the number of Scots couples getting hitched. More than 10% of all marriages in 2003 were civil ceremonies conducted in the 424 castles, hotels and other venues which are now approved for the purpose.
Civil ceremonies accounted for 40% of the 3,500 marriages held in places other than churches or registration offices in Gretna. Ms Wallace said she had seen a "big difference" in wedding venues since the law came into effect.
She added: "I don't think the numbers will increase, but it means that people can have civil marriages at the venue of their choice. "Religious marriages are dropping in our district because people are opting to have civil marriages at the blacksmith's."
I hope most of you already had a chance to enjoy one (or more) of Madonna's U.S shows! The new issue of Icon (#41) is about to be sent out to subscribers... Vogue Paris Magazine has devoted it's pages to the Re-Invention tour as Madonna graces the cover of the August edition.
The spread includes exclusive studio and live shots taken by Steven Klein as well as an article written by Madonna's publicist, Liz Rosenberg. If you haven't gotten a copy of it yet, we have a great deal for you. Icon #42 will be entirely devoted to Madonna's new tour and will include fan reviews and pictures from around the world. J
ust write your own review of the tour and e-mail it to us before August 11. The best reviews and pictures will be published in Icon and their authors will receive a free copy of Vogue Paris right in their mailbox! Your review can be short or long, based on what you've seen during the show or what came to your mind right after it, etc., YOU DECIDE!
Be sure to e-mail your review and pictures to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org before August 11. Please note that you don't have to be an Icon member to submit your review, but you must be Madonna fan! Fan photographers, pictures will only be accepted if they are Jpegs at least 1.000 pixels "tall" and no more than 1Mb per image. One entry per person, thanks!
Good luck and see you on the road!