"I have moments where I feel incredibly invincible and know that I have the audience in my hand... and then I have panic attacks, where I feel like everyone is breathing my air, and I might just die on stage" – Madonna
In the April issue of the magazine, out March 13th, undisputed heavyweight champ of reinvention Madonna talks exclusively to Dazed & Confused's Jefferson Hack about her latest incarnation.
In her first interview about her new album Hard Candy, worked on with Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, and Timbaland, Madonna discusses her many different, and occasionally contradictory, roles – as performer and provocateur, mother and artist, style icon and campaigner. Photographed by long-time collaborator Steven Klein, the queen of pop looks as uncompromising, tough and sexy as ever.
This unique tribute issue also features 70 pages of Madonna-inspired fashion and art, including contributions from Katy England and Alasdair McLellan, Emile Larsson, Nicola Formichetti and Benjamin Alexander Huseby, plus new works from artists such as Matthew Stone, Alex Rose, and Daniel Sannwald.
Keep watching Dazed Digital over the next fortnight for exclusive Madonna previews and extras from the interview and shoot.
Madonna says she has "come around" to the idea of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a March 10 ceremony in New York City.
Initially, the 49-year-old Material Girl was hesitant about the tribute that will see her career honoured alongside fellow 2008 inductees such as Canadian Leonard Cohen.
"I heard about it and I kind of felt ambivalent, like, 'What is that, the place they put musical dinosaurs?' " Madonna told reporters from around the globe yesterday, including Sun Media in a Canadian print exclusive. She has just started promoting her new hip-hop and R&B-drenched dance album, Hard Candy, due in stores April 29.
"I didn't really know what to think of it," she said, "but then lots of people explained to me that it's an acknowledgement of singers and songwriters who have made a contribution in the world of music for 25 years, and so eventually I came around to the idea that it was flattering."
And she's pleased that she will be inducted by one of her Hard Candy collaborators, Justin Timberlake, who co-wrote many of the songs and sings on the new album, including the Timbaland-produced first single, Four Minutes. Timberlake also appears in the video alongside her as two superheroes trying to save the world.
"It was Justin who offered and kind of surprised me, when we were shooting the video -- he said he wanted to be the person to induct me, so to speak, so I said, 'Okay,' " said Madonna, who added how the rest of the induction evening will unfold is up in the air.
"It's supposed to be a surprise for me -- somebody sings one of my songs," she said before adding, "Yikes! No, I'm just kidding. I don't know."
The Material Girl -- dressed in a snug-fitting, low-cut black top, black pants and large yellow hoop earrings and yellow high heels -- entered a small conference room at a Beverly Hills hotel late yesterday afternoon and uttered a quiet "hi" before being seated. And for the next 35 minutes, she proved to be a challenging, if funny and thoughtful, interview subject.
For example, if she didn't like a question -- such as the one about how her views on life and music had changed in her 20s, 30s, 40s -- she'd take a pass.
"That's like a gigantic question -- I'm not answering that question, be more specific," Madonna said, before getting the journalist to narrow it down to music. "We'll be here for six hours if you want to know how my views on life have changed over the past 30 years."
One popular topic was of her turning 50 on August 16, which seemed to be a much bigger deal for reporters than Madonna herself.
"It's not a bad word, you can say it," she said when one reporter whispered "5-0."
And when the same reporter asked her about reaching "a landmark for a lady," she made the journalist clarify that to it's "a landmark for everybody."
She said she doesn't see turning 50 as a milestone.
"No, but everybody else keeps mentioning it," she said. "I see it as another excuse to have a birthday party."
In fact, Madonna said physically, "I feel stronger now than, maybe, 20 years ago -- but I think your physicality is connected to your consciousness so if your mind is strong, your body will be strong."
She also bristled when asked how much longer she wants to make music. "I haven't the slightest idea, everyone wants to know the numbers," Madonna said.
Speaking of which, Hard Candy will be her final studio record with Warner after a 26-year relationship. But she says it's neither scary nor liberating to leave.
Her new, reported $120-million deal with Live Nation includes albums, touring and merchandising.
"It's just the end of my contract and the record industry is changing. And so the way that I make music and the way that I get it out to the people and the way that we market it and release it will also have to change," she said. "I'm excited about my new deal because it's more of a partnership, and after 25 years I feel like I deserve to be a partner."
Madonna says she is not done with filmmaking after the first movie she directed, Filth and Wisdom, had its debut at the Berlin Film Festival last month.
"I would like to direct more films and write them and you know I've only done one, so to me that's the beginning of that career," Madonna told Sun Media yesterday.
As for her 11-year-old daughter, Lourdes, it turns out she wants to be in front of the camera and Madonna, whose own acting career has never matched her success in music, doesn't have a problem with it.
"She says she wants to be an actress, I don't mind," she said.
As for the plight of the current crop of Hollywood twentysomethings -- Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, etc. -- Madonna said she has sympathy for them.
"Yes, I do feel for them but I think we're all responsible for it as well," she said. "We buy the magazines. We are hungrily devouring all the information.
"So we all have to take responsibility for it and I think it's all tragic and I feel for the girls but you can't think it's their fault, you can't think it's the paparazzi's fault. Everybody's responsible for it and because of the Internet there's a lot of competition now with magazines -- and you just have to do the math.
Now people have to do more and more and more to get attention, to sell their product, to sell their magazines so now they have no limits, no boundaries. It's a kind of madness."
She said she's not still in touch with Spears, with whom she collaborated on a song previously, but thinks Spears can come back from her current downward spiral.
"I think anything is possible," said Madonna.
And as for who she's supporting for the Democratic presidential nomination in the U.S., Madonna wouldn't say, other than, "I'm just very happy that it's a woman and an African-American."
Other magazine pictures should follow soon, including a photoshoot by Like A Virgin / Erotica photographer Steven Meisel for Vanity Fair, and another one for Elle Magazine. We wonder if the unusual cover of Dazed & Confused is any indication for the Steven Klein photoshoot for Hard Candy...
Australian radio journalist Sonia Kruger has had the chance to listen to the new album before interviewing Madonna. She has now revealed the track listing on her blog. These are the 12 album tracks of Hard Candy:
Madonna has been giving interviews to the press about her upcoming album Hard Candy. Belgian journalist Ward Verrijcken had a 15 minute interview with her in Hollywood, which will air in april on celebrity program De Rode Loper on the VRT TV channel. Today Verrijcken reported on the interview on Radio Donna. He said Madonna looked very good, very fashionable with a black dress and boots.
But she was very strict: journalists had to limit their questions to the album and when they asked too many stupid questions, Madonna stopped the interview. Apparently, that really happened with some journalists. Verrijcken tried to break the ice a bit with some jokes, but Madonna wasn't really in the mood for joking...
He said the album sounded great, very urban but also dance-y... you can still hear it's a typical Madonna album. The tracks seem to be mixed together like on Confessions On A Dance Floor. Verrijcken also asked if she would be touring Belgium, but Madonna replied that Belgium should come and see her in Germany instead.
Yesterday we were treated to the exciting news that Madonna has named her new album Hard Candy.
Today we take you back to another exciting day, exactly 10 years ago. On February 27th, 1998 Madonna released a brand new studio album. Ray Of Light was not only the first album after an absence of 4 years, but also marked the beginning of a whole new Madonna era.
She had abandoned her reputations of a Material Girl and S&M mistress, and revealed herself - inspired by Kabbalah and the birth of her daughter - as a spiritual earth mother. This influenced the new album sound, on which she experimented with electronic pop and trance, in collaboration with British DJ and producer William Orbit. She drew lyrics from personal experiences, which made the album tracks some of her most personal ever.
The album produced no less than 5 singles, including the hauntingly beautiful ballad Frozen and the title track Ray Of Light. Ray Of Light quickly became critically acclaimed, winning 4 Grammies and to this date still being a favorite among music critics and fans.
The album proved Madonna, now a 40 year old mother with 15 years of experience, was back after the Erotica backlash, proving the world she still had the lead in the music scene, taking her music and style into a new direction. As a tribute to this anniversary, Mad-Eyes serves you a Ray Of Light-themed intro.
The title of Madonna's forthcoming album will be Hard Candy, EW.com has learned exclusively. The record, her last studio effort for Warner Bros., includes a track called Candy Store.
Madonna chose to stick with the sweet theme because "she loves candy," says her longtime rep Liz Rosenberg. "It's about the juxtaposition of tough and sweetness, or as Madonna so eloquently expressed 'I'm gonna kick your ass, but it's going to make you feel good.'" The album, which features Justin Timberlake on multiple tracks and production by Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, and Nate "Danja" Hills, will see a U.S. release on April 29. The first single, "Four Minutes," will be out at the end of March.
Justin Timberlake will induct Madonna into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the organization's March 10 ceremony, a rep for the Hall confirmed to MTV News Tuesday (February 26).
Perhaps Timberlake is returning a favor from his 27th birthday last month, when Madonna presented him with a cupcake and champagne and sang him "Happy Birthday" on the set of the video for her song 4 Minutes To Save The World. The track features JT as well as Timbaland; the two collaborated on several songs for Madonna's forthcoming LP.
~ The perfect choice, but it's no surprise at all. The latest rumour is that they wanted to perform the new single, but plans were scrapped, but we have to wait and see what happens on March 10th...
In both the Warner Chappell Music database and the ASCAP website, the new Madonna single is registered with the short title "4 Minutes". As expected the track has 4 writers: Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Timothy Z. Mosley (Timbaland) and Floyd Nathaniel Hills (Danja). We wonder if the registration means that an official announcement is coming up very soon...
Popular recording artist Nelly Furtado performed in Chile today at the Viña del Mar Festival and at a press conference she was asked about Madonna and here's what she had to say: "Madonna's great. We met two weeks ago in a fund raising event. She's a generous, creative person who I admire. So, she likes to experiment and she likes contemporary sounds, so no wonder she chose to work with Timbaland. I listened to a couple of her new tracks and they're amazing!" (thanx to Drownedmadonna)
~ Timbaland was responsible for Nelly's hugely successful album 'Loose' from 2006, that included such hit singles as "Promiscuous", "Maneater" and "Say It Right".
Future Rock Hall has learned that Madonna will not be performing at the 2008 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on March 10th, though she does plan to attend. No word on who will be asked to perform Madonna's music at the event.
This is undoubtedly a huge blow to organizers who were counting on Madonna to provide the star power at this year's event. Given the health of the Dave Clark Five's Mike Smith, it's unclear if they will perform either. The remaining 2008 inductees who will perform are John Mellencamp, the Ventures, and Leonard Cohen
On March 10th, the Induction Ceremony will be broadcast live on VH1 Classic, and (presumably) webcast at AOL's spinner.com.
~ It is a bit disappointing, but supposedly the performances at this event are quite spontaneous and Madonna usually prefers to rehearse her performances to perfection. Which means her new single will have its live debut sometime later.
While we anticipate Madonna's next album, we're treated to a nice surprise from the Madonna vaults: the original demos of Erotica & Goodbye To Innocence have leaked online! The Erotica demo features verses of the album version and the now-famous You Thrill Me lyrics which actually served as the bridge and chorus of the song, replacing the "Give it up, do as I say..." & "Erotic, erotic, put your hands all over my body" parts, finally confirming that 'You Thrill Me' was always a demo of 'Erotica' (the Confessions Tour version is basically the old and new choruses sung together).
The instrumental of the song is much darker, the bass is more accentuated, Shep's signature house beats are very subtle and we personally think it sounds fantastic! Goodbye To Innocence is also quite different from the officially released version, it seems it has some different lyrics, melody and an instrumental that's also darker and less dancey. It features a sound from Fever, the track that eventually replaced Goodbye To Innocence on Erotica. You can download the demos here and here (links could disappear).
Madonna has reportedly settled her lawsuit with a New York co-op board, which refused to allow her to buy her neighbor's apartment. "I bought the apartment upstairs, so now everything's A-OK," she told New York magazine.
For those who don't follow her exploits, the artistic force behind Like A Virgin - who, oddly, tends to slip into a British accent these days-is something of a property mogul. She and her husband, director Guy Ritchie, own several properties in London alone, in addition to property in Miami, New York and Los Angeles. In the industry, she is known as a savvy operator, who usually buys in top-end neighborhoods. Her deals have even been known to bump property values, according to this New York Times article.
In New York, a half-dozen blogs and columnists track the Material Girl's every real estate whim. It was big news when she (and Bono) decided not to buy in Julian Schnabel's much-discussed Palazzo Chupi. (source: International Herald Tribune)
Talk about all dressed up with no place to go: Oscar night is going to see a surplus of guests and a dearth of hosts.
The 14-week writers strike took a toll, both emotional and economic, on Hollywood, but some have used it as an excuse to make cuts -- in deals, in holiday gifts and, apparently, in parties.
The Oscar-night party scene was getting to be pretty predictable, and this is the year that longtime traditions are taking a sabbatical. The net result is that with no Vanity Fair party and other cancelled events, and only about half of those at the Academy Awards invited to the Governors Ball, there will be quite the black-tie mob shuffling in their Jimmy Choo slingbacks seeking food and diversion.
In years past, the Governors Ball was the first stop on a serious round of party-hopping. But this year, there simply aren't many places to hop.
Beyond Vanity Fair's one-year hiatus, other party no-shows include People mag's fiesta; Dani Janssen's affair at her home, which has drawn the likes of Jack Nicholson and Clint Eastwood; and the latenight affair hosted by Rick Yorn and Patrick Whitesell.
For the second year, the Elton John AIDS fund-raiser is a viewing dinner followed by a John performance with no after-party (though about 75 nominees and execs have received invites to attend the perf).
One contender to fill this black-tie social vacuum is the party Madonna, her manager Guy Oseary and Demi Moore have put together at the last minute.
Whether this affair becomes an annual event hasn't been decided.
The party, to be held in a home in the Westside hills, will begin around 9 p.m. A few hundred people are invited, although this number will probably expand. One person who's seen the guest list said, "Everybody's on it. It gives the A-list Vanity Fair crowd someplace to go to. It will probably be pared down to where it's 85% talent, not a lot of suits."
But even if this party skims off some of the celebrity cream, the Governors Ball will still be the major draw. "It's the biggest game in town," said one exec. "This is going to put the glamour back into the ball."
Hip hop producer Danja gave an interview to Rhapsody and here's what he said about his work with the Queen of Pop:
Q: Are you still working on Madonna's album?
A: Actually Madonna is finished. Me and Tim did four or five [songs] together. He also did three more with a new producer, Hannon, out of Virginia. Then Pharrell did the rest. So it's like a Virginia-produced album. I'm actually kind of proud of that. Even though me and Tim and Pharrell didn't work together, just for us to completely conquer an artist such as Madonna ... I'm good. Either way, whether we got a single or [Pharrell] got a single, Virginia got a [Madonna] single.
Q: What was the vibe like?
A: She was cool. She had a dark sense of humor that I can't explain. She might just say something crazy that you might feel is out of line. But it's not. It's just her sense of humor. She was in the studio chilling with us, being open and the whole nine. With any session when you don't know somebody, the first session is the hardest. You gotta break the ice, but after that initial session, it was all good. Another person that I worked with, Mariah, was really cool and so down to earth. [I did] her new single that's coming out with T-Pain, "Migrate."
A Las Vegas couple and a Marilyn Monroe expert have been left embarrassed after what they thought was a nude photo of the star turned out to be a shot of pop star Madonna.
Lawrence Nicastro, 73, said he found the grainy poster-sized photo at his home and thought it was a rare picture of Monroe posing as a naked hitchhiker.
He and his wife Phyllis then spent four months researching the photograph.
Mr Nicastro suspected it had been left by a customer at his service station in New York city in 1962.
The couple brought in Monroe expert Chris Harris, who confirmed it was a genuine, exciting find.
Harris scheduled a news conference to unveil the image but allowed some journalists a sneak preview.
They suggested the photographic treasure was in fact a shot of Madonna from her graphic 1992 book, Sex.
It displayed the singer wearing just heels and a handbag, with a cigarette in her mouth.
Harris realised the mistake: "You're right; it's Madonna. If there ever was an embarrassing moment ..."
He still plans to hold the news conference to "face the music".
"Who wins here? Madonna, of course. She really looks like Marilyn Monroe," insisted Harris.
It is not clear where the photograph actually came from, but Harris said he believed someone had slipped the poster into Mr Nicastro's belongings as a practical joke.
Madonna just wrapped filming her video with Justin Timberlake, 4 Minutes To Save The World. This will be the first single off Madonna's next (and last) studio album for Warner Records. Mrs. Guy Ritchie and young Mr. Timberlake are said to have raised the roof and scorched the earth with their mutual writhings.
She looks great, despite the British tabs obsession with capturing terrible photos of her. By this point, I'm sure Madonna has succumbed to surgical "procedures." But as she once told me, "Sure, I think about it, like everybody else. But I won't be holding a news conference when it happens!" (She is prettier and softer-looking in person. The camera does not always flatter her overexercised sinews.)
Advance word on her album is excellent. Forbes magazine has named her "the richest woman in music." She is declared, "washed up" every three years. But never underestimate the power of a woman who transformed popular culture by proclaiming she was Like A Virgin, back in 1984.
And what, you ask, will this remarkable icon be doing upon the epoch of her 50th birthday in August? She'll most likely be out on the road, touring, taking in another 200 million, give or a take a mil. Sure, she's a settled married woman with three kids and a satisfying spiritual life. But as Stephen Sondheim wrote and as she belted it out in [More, the song from Dick Tracy], "Nothing's better than more! More! More!"
Arriving soon is Madonna's directorial debut, a film called Filth and Wisdom. It's quirky, funny, off-putting, annoying, compelling, awkward and assured. I was distracted with the knowledge that Madonna had directed and cowritten. As with her acting, the mere knowledge of her affects our reaction.
But she got vivid performances out of a cast of unknowns, and though there's some sordid carrying on, the sex is mostly comic. ("It's ironic," Madonna always says, when explaining away controversies.) And the movie turns out sentimental, with an upbeat conclusion - the legendary provocateur is a middle-class Michigan girl, after all. It's not perfect - Madonna the director tries to tell too many stories - but it shows real promise.
While her directorial debut Filth and Wisdom bowed to mixed reviews at the Berlin film fest last week, Madonna isn't one to miss a trick when it comes to getting her work to the masses.
The low-budget comedy about three struggling flatmates in London could be made available first via download in the U.S. and U.K. and released theatrically elsewhere.
"I've been speaking to iTunes about releasing it through them," the popstar turned scribe-helmer tells Variety. "I want the most amount of people to see it as possible. ... I don't like to do anything conventionally."
While her music career is marked by the constant glare of publicity, Filth and Wisdom made it to the bigscreen with an uncharacteristic lack of hype. She fully financed the pic -- which stars Eugene Hutz, Holly Weston, Vicky McClure and Richard E. Grant -- with her own coin through her Semtex Films shingle. She co-wrote the script in two weeks with Dan Cadan, a frequent collaborator of hubby Guy Ritchie. Lensing took 16 days, with Nicola Doring produced.
She even pushed to get the film into Berlin's Panorama sidebar rather than its glitzier main competition or Cannes.
"I'm a beginner, so I think I should start off in an understated way," she says. "Just because I'm established in one field doesn't mean that's how I should approach anything else I do."
And in a career marked by constant reinvention, the Material Girl is already lining up her next film projects.
She's producing Nathan Rissman's doc "I Am Because We Are," about Malawi orphans, and writing the script for her soph helming effort.
"It's based on a true story and involves two historical figures and a young girl's obsession with their story," she says. "Ultimately it's a story about the cult of celebrity."
They do say to write what you know.
GayWired.com posted a nice recap of Madonna's previous efforts in the R&B territory:
"A lot of people thought that I was a black artist before they saw my videos," Madonna told an interviewer all the way back in 1984.
Don't laugh-I'm one of those people. When I first heard Borderline on the radio in 1984, I thought I was listening to a black girl. It wasn't until I saw the video on MTV that I realized Madonna was a blue-eyed, blond-haired white chick with a penchant for black jelly bracelets.
No one makes that mistake anymore, of course, which probably explains the eye-rolling reaction the 49-year-old singer received when she announced last year that she was working on an R&B record with Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West.
Take a look at Madonna's extensive back catalog, though, and you'll see this is hardly the first time she's taken a stab at "black music." Here are a few noteworthy examples:
1. Love Don't Live Here Anymore -Considering the big hits from Madonna's debut album were dance-pop ditties like Holiday, Borderline and Lucky Star, it's a bit shocking that she decided to cover this 1978 Rose Royce classic on her second album, Like A Virgin. The choice didn't sit well with critics-Rolling Stone called it "awful"-but the singer herself must have been happy with it, as she hauled it out of the vaults and released it as a single to promote her all-ballad album, Something To Remember, in 1996.
2. Love Song - Madonna threw critics and fans for another loop when she teamed with Prince for 1989's Love Song. The tune, which appeared on the Like A Prayer album, isn't really R&B, but it's not a pop song either, thanks to the scattershot percussion and funky guitar riffs provided by Prince. Whatever you call it, Madonna holds her own against 'The Artist' and proves she has the chops to do more than dance songs.
3. Justify My Love (Hip-Hop Mix) - So much has been said about the original version of this Lenny Kravitz-penned song that no one seems to remember this rather interesting remix, which appeared on the Justify My Love maxi-single released in 1990. Madonna coos the chorus like a contender-"Oooh, justify my love"-over a skittering backbeat and a bevy of samples. Who's that girl, indeed!
4. Waiting - Madonna spliced a few vocals from Justify My Love to come up with the chorus for this bass-heavy song, a standout on 1992's Erotica. It shares other similarities with its predecessor, too: spoken verses, a chorus sung with a bluesy bend and lyrics aimed at a lackadaisical lover. Despite being a fan favorite, Waiting wasn't released as a single, though a remix of the song (featuring rapper Everlast) appeared on another of the album's singles, Rain.
5. Forbidden Love - Anyone who doesn't believe Madonna has taken the B&B route before needs to pick up a copy of her 1994 album, Bedtime Stories. Except for the disco-rific Don't Stop and the trippy one-two punch of Sanctuary and Bedtime Story, every song on this under-appreciated album has a "new jill swing" vibe. Forbidden Love sticks out because it's one of two tracks the Material Girl wrote with Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, though others, like singles Secret and Human Nature, display a similarly soulful side of the dance diva.
6. American Life - Madonna reportedly asked Missy Elliott for advice while penning the rap that appears partway through American Life. Unfortunately, the resulting stream-of-consciousness-Madonna raps about soy lattes, mini coopers and even the number of nannies she employs-was seen by many as an unintended joke. Still, Elliott gave the effort a thumbs up and even performed a rap of her own on a remix she produced for the maxi-single.
Madonna has managed to keep most details about her still-untitled follow-up to 2005's Confessions On A Dance Floor (due April 29th) under wraps, but Rolling Stone got an early listen to five tracks today and some behind-the-scenes info from producer Nate "Danja" Hills.
Fans who worried that Madonna might be losing inspiration as she approaches fifty need not be concerned. The new album takes a few steps away from the hyper-polished future disco of Confessions toward a more urban-oriented, thumpy funk, featuring production by Timbaland and Pharrell, as well as collaborations with Justin Timberlake.
Danja says he worked on the album in London, and that Madonna indicated "she just wanted uptempo, dance, club [sounds] and everything to have a hip-hop underlining." He adds that Madonna was easy-going and frequently in the studio putting in long hours alongside himself, Timbaland and Timberlake: "She would come in and sit in her chair in the corner and just vibe with us."
The record's first single is 4 Minutes To Save The World, the track Timbaland partially debuted during a Philadelphia Christmas concert in December. "4 Minutes" has a bit of a marching band aesthetic as blasting brass play a scale-like riff, a hard, clanging beat enters and Madonna sings that the "road to heaven is paved with good intentions." Timberlake and Madonna trade verses, and he appears on the chorus, doing his best Michael Jackson impression while quickly crooning, "We've only got four minutes to save the world."
The track ends after a brief breakdown where everything drops out but one of Tim's signature Bhangra beats, some stabs of brass and Madonna's urgent tick-tock's. It's a loud, busy, energetic track that is apparently getting an equally adventurous video: As previously reported, the clip (which is still being completed) is directed by hot French duo Jonas & François (Justice's "D.A.N.C.E.").
Timbaland makes an appearance, and Madonna and Timberlake play superheroes tackling physical obstacles. The clip features choreography by Jamie King, who worked on Madonna's Confessions, Re-Invention and Drowned World tours as well as her video for Confessions' Sorry.
The Pharrell-produced Candy Store opens with a big beat and Madonna's invitation to "Come on in to my store, I got candy galore." The track is pretty bare on the verses, but there's a flash of brassy soul on the chorus when harmonies join Madonna singing, "I'll be your one stop (one stop) candy shop." The track is punctuated with throbbing breaks filled with hypnotic synths, and Pharrell jumps on the mike for a brief rhyme.
The most lyrical of the five songs is Miles Away, a wistful tune about a long-distance relationship with a melody that resembles Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds, an album Danja says Madonna admired. "We would come up with a track and him and Madonna would come and do lyrics and melody together," Danja explains.
The song opens with a quickly strummed acoustic guitar, then a stuttering beat drops in and the track slowly swells until it's filled with atmospheric synths. "You always seem to have the biggest heart when we're 6,000 miles apart," Madonna sings grandly, lamenting, "I guess we're at our best when we're miles away." The song has a more airy aesthetic compared to the heavy beats on other tracks, which reflects its more emotional lyrics.
The track that sounds most like a more urban, edgy continuation of Confessions is the excellent Give It To Me, which bumps along to a thick synth tone Danja employed on Britney Spears' Blackout. It's an aggressive, clubby track with a raw, house-y beat that's ripe for remixing, and Madonna sings, "When the lights go down and there's no one left I can go on and on." It ends after a fast, killer breakdown where she chants "Get stupid" over a xylophone chime as the beat builds into a frenzy and she proclaims, "Give it to me / No one's gonna stop me now."
The dance floor theme returns again on Heartbeat, which boasts a thumping hip-hop beat with a sandpaper shuffle and twinkling Eighties-reminiscent synths. Madonna opens up her voice more, singing, "Can't you see when I dance I feel free / Which makes me feel like the only one the light shines on." The song features a brief rap breakdown that recalls Nelly Furtado's chanty "Promiscuous" ("See my booty get down," Madonna speak-sings), but returns to its clubby roots in the end.
~ What can we say? All of that sounds amazing and we're very excited! Madonna is surely going to add another fantastic album to her impressive catalog! Just two and a half months left!!!
More details are emerging about Madonna's new album. Nate "Danja" Hills and Timbaland, who co-produced Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds, are co-producing some tracks on Madonna's yet-to-be titled album and Danja tells EW.com that the pop queen's next effort is "very up-tempo, upbeat and urban - it's a Virginia-based sound."
Madge was joined in the studio by another influential Virginian, Pharrell Williams, but Danja emphasizes that the album's urban edge doesn't mean the 49-year-old star has lost her pop cred. "It's everything rolled into one," he says. "It'll be a classic album." As previously reported here, Timbaland and Timberlake will appear in the video for Madonna's first single, 4 Minutes To Save The World. The album is slated for an April debut. The single drops in March.
Longtime Madonna collaborator Jamie King gave an interview to Le Journal de Montréal where he revealed that he had choreographed the video of 4 Minutes To Save The World. He flew to London to shoot the video where both Madonna & Justin Timberlake do the same choreography. The clip is going to be out "very soon", supposedly late February or early March. You can read the original interview in French here.
Critics slipped their knives into Madonna's directorial film debut Filth and Wisdom on Thursday, but stopped short of a fatal twist and instead offered the pop icon a pat on the back for effort.
"Not much filth and precious little wisdom," was industry magazine Screen International's verdict on the film which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival on Wednesday.
"A good humoured, averagely amateurish vanity project," said the reviewer, who criticised Madonna's "creakily written" screenplay for claiming to satirise racial and social stereotypes while "lazily perpetuating" them.
In the end, however, he joined numerous others in confessing to an unexpected level of enjoyment.
"While chaotic and more than a bit silly, the film in the end conjures up a surprising amount of goodwill," it said.
Filth and Wisdom, billed as a London-based comedy, revolves around a Ukrainian immigrant who finances his dreams of rock glory by moonlighting as a cross-dressing dominatrix, and his two female flatmates.
Madonna said she aimed to capture the uncompromising drive of young, talented people who believe they can make it in show business against the odds.
The film stars Eugene Hutz, the Ukrainian frontman for a real-life Gypsy punk rock band, Gogol Bordello, as well as British cult actor Richard E. Grant.
Hollwood Reporter found the film "ragged, uneven and potholed with some dire dialogue," but acknowledged that its "cockeyed optimism and likeable leads conspire to bring a smile by the time its done".
Reviews in the German press were more scathing, but also agreed that Filth and Wisdom had managed to save itself from joining turkeys like Shanghai Surprise and Swept Away in Madonna's acting Hall of Shame.
"Madonna has made a movie and it is utter trash -- pseudo psychology, cheap make-up, bad lighting and a hell of a lot of scenes shot without rehearsal," said the daily Der Tagesspiegel.
"But," the reviewer continued, "this crude business is all over as fast as a punk song and in that time you can have just as much fun. Not a good film, but a good surprise."
The Frankfurter Rundschau called it a "modestly produced comedy about survival" and argued that the film's dance and sex scenes were all references to Madonna's career as one of the most physical pop stars since Elvis.
"If you take her body out of her directing, then the film is nothing more than a picturesque little walk in the park. Just in the same way that her last tour was nothing more than a folkloric stab at subculture," the newspaper said.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung said the film was "youthfully carefree" in a review that was unable to resist the soundbite swirling temptingly around the project ever since Madonna announced her intention to take the helm.
"This woman directs like a virgin," the newspaper said.
Today's world premiere was hailed as the hottest ticket in town, but many people at the Berlin Film Festival were expecting Madonna's directorial debut to fail spectacularly. Yet her new career got off to a surprisingly auspicious start without exactly convincing anyone that she should give up herold job.
Filth and Wisdom, a sprawling comedy, is a celebration of London's ethnic stew, and stars Eugene Hutz as a Ukrainian gypsy with an intensely annoying habit of looking the camera in the eye and spouting gobbets of wisdom that have as much relevance to real life as Chinese fortune cookies. Hutz's hero, Andriy, shares a dilapidated house with a collection of similarly unlikely characters. Vicky McClure's Juliette works in a chemist shop and steals medicine for African orphans. Holly Weston is a ballerina (also named Holly) and a pole dancer at Beechman's Exotic Gentleman's Club. Richard E. Grant is Flynn, a blind professor with a shock of grey hair and rooms crammed with unread books.
Andriy, who dresses up as a neo-Nazi and spanks men for a living, is also the narrator on Madonna's picaresque tour around the hopes and dreams of the cast. "Without filth there cannot be wisdom," muses Andriy, tweaking his alarming moustache. "They are two sides of the same coin." Madonna puts a little too much faith in her writing powers (she earns a co-credit for the script). Most of the filth is actually frothy, life-affirming comedy. The spectacle of Andriy riding a half-naked man around his living-room gives a whole new meaning to the words "horseplay".
What saves the film is its sheer exuberance, and, of course, the music. Andriy fronts a terrific, throbbing gypsy band (Gogol Bordello) when he's not punishing grown-up school boys for not doing their homework, and Weston's pole dancer gives Madonna plenty of tongue-in-cheek opportunities to plug some of her favourite songs. Inder Manocha's weary Indian chemist has arguably the best moments of comedy. When he'snot ogling his shapely assistant (the beautiful and pure McClure), he is shouted at by his Indian wife.
That said, there is some clunkingly awful acting and a string of scenes that are so stagey they would fall over if they weren't propped up by the cinema screen. The sight of Grant flinging books off shelves, and then flinging himself onto his carpet weeping tears of frustration, is a collector's item, and one of the most inadvertently humorous scenes witnessed in Berlin for many a year.
Yet despite its many shortcomings and an ending so mushy and neat it would embarrass Richard Curtis, Madonna has done herself proud. Her film has an artistic ambition that has simply bypassed her husband, the film director Guy Ritchie. She captures that wonderfully accidental nature of luck when people's lives intersect for a whole swathe of unlikely but cherishable reasons. Altmanesque would be stretching the compliment too far, but Filth and Wisdom shows Madonna has real potential as a film director.
The message in Madonna's first outing as feature film director, Filth and Wisdom, is that all of us can find peace of mind and happiness if we just get in touch with our inner slut.
Ragged, uneven and potholed with some dire dialogue and performances, the film's cockeyed optimism and likable leads conspire to bring a smile by the time it's done. Barely feature length at 81 minutes, it likely will appeal to Madonna's fans for its echoes of various threads of her own life story and the grunge style of Desperately Seeking Susan. To many, however, it will remain an oddity. It screened at the Berlin Film Festival in the Panorama section.
Focusing on three mismatched London flatmates who accept dire jobs while waiting for their dreams to come true, the film is a curious mix of TV sitcom, madcap raunchiness and rowdy gypsy music.
The male of the trio, a heavily accented Ukrainian would-be pop singer named A.K. (Eugene Hutz), sets the mood by speaking directly to the camera and espousing the general theme that the path to enlightenment is via the gutter.
A.K. spends a lot of time in the bathtub -- dressed or not, water or not -- drinking brandy, smoking and pondering life's vicissitudes. He earns ready money by getting into costumes and beating up paying customers who get their jollies that way. He also runs errands for a blind poet (Richard E. Grant) who lives downstairs.
A.K. has a crush on flatmate Holly (Holly Weston), a beautiful ballerina who, being flat broke, resorts to stripping and pole-dancing at a local club, while equally lovely Juliette (Vicky McClure) is putting in time at a drugstore while dreaming of going to Africa to help the starving children there.
There are scenes involving A.K.'s clientele, Holly's fellow strippers and Juliette's lustful pharmacist boss, and occasionally the two young women join in A.K.'s paid-for role-playing. Some sequences are jarring in their sudden shifts of tone, and a few simply fall flat. The further down the cast, the less Madonna -- who co-scripted -- demonstrates a firm grip as director.
"Wisdom" is unexpectedly sentimental, too, but the three leads are sufficiently engaging that while chaotic and more than a bit silly, the film in the end conjures up a surprising amount of goodwill.
The last time Madonna came to the Berlin International Film Festival she hid under a raincoat -- accompanying Sean Penn -- and nobody knew she was here. Or so the story goes. But this time, she was out in full view for her directorial debut, Filth and Wisdom, playing in the Panorama section of the festival.
Reporters queued for an hour outside the press room, then waited another hour inside to catch a glimpse of the diminutive director and the documentary's stars, Gogol Bordello's Eugene Hutz and the British actresses Holly Weston and Vicky McClure.
"I stalked him (Eugene) like a strange fan," said Madonna of getting the Ukrainian musician to play the philosophical narrator and one of three main characters in the film.
The Material Girl might have all the success in the world, but she can still feel the struggle of her early years as if it was yesterday or so she said Wednesday adding that she could therefore identify with the struggling characters in her quirky, colorful, sexual underground film.
"I think that in spite of what appears to be my material success, I still feel like the characters in that movie," she said. "Thirty years ago it (happiness) meant that I could feed myself and put a roof over my head, and survive in New York, carve a place for myself and get my voice heard.Now happiness is being grateful that all of those things continue to happen for me."
Asked if she had sought advice in making the film, Madonna garnered one of many laughs in the conference when she quipped: "I did get advice from people I admire, but opinions are like assholes. No, that's my joke. At the end of the day, you have to take all of your advice and throw it out and make it your own journey."
One thing she didn't throw out was some free music. "I got the music from people who I knew would give it to me and not charge me a lot of money," she said about the soundtrack, which included a couple of her own songs. "Britney was very generous, Ludacris, etc. Of course I wasn't going to charge myself money."
"The movie is about two things," she added. "The duality of life and the struggle with that duality. I was trying to say you can find enlightenment in either filth or wisdom."
Madonna has just held a press conference live on stream at the Berlinare with 2 of her actors. People from the press were asking questions about the movie Filth and Wisdom, her experiences of directing and the references to her early days of her career in the movie.
Madonna, who looked gorgeous by the way, revealed that the movie features songs from many contemporary artists, including Pharrell, Ludacris & Britney Spears and it also features her own track from 1992, Erotica. She also mentioned that the Malawi documentary 'I am Because We Are' is going to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, which is going to happen in the second half of May. The press conference will probably be available to rewatch here soon.
Having been panned for most of her efforts in front of the camera, pop icon Madonna makes her debut in the director's chair Wednesday at the Berlin Film Festival.
Critics have already begun sharpening their pencils at the prospect of Filth and Wisdom which revolves around a Ukrainian immigrant who finances his dreams of rock stardom by moonlighting as a cross-dressing dominatrix, and his two female flatmates.
Madonna, who will add some welcome star power to what has been a rather lacklustre Berlinale, has been less than timid about her ambitions as a filmmaker.
"I have always been inspired by the films of Godard, Visconti, Pasolini and Fellini and hope that I may one day make something that comes close to their genius," she said in a her director's statement for Wednesday's premiere.
Billed as a London-based comedy, Filth and Wisdom stars Eugene Hutz, the Ukrainian frontman for Gypsy punk rock band Gogol Bordello, as well as British cult star Richard E. Grant.
Madonna's own acting career got off to a promising start with a starring role in 1985's Desperately Seeking Susan, but then went into terminal decline with her appearances in major flops like 1986's Shanghai Surprise alongside first husband Sean Penn.
Her last celluloid outing was in the widely derided Swept Away in 2002, which was directed by her current husband Guy Ritchie and involved, according to the New York Times, "a lot of swearing, a little nudity, a modicum of sex and an eternity of staring at your watch".
In Filth and Wisdom, Hutz plays "AK" a self-proclaimed philosopher and poet, whose sideline career sees him assume characters ranging from a Marine drill instructor to former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher -- depending on the tastes of his clients. Grant plays a blind professor and frustrated writer who lives in the same building.
"I have always admired the art of filmmaking and the ability to tell a good story," Madonna said in her programme notes. "After almost three decades of being in front of a camera, I decided to put my money where my mouth is."
The Material Girl not only directs, but also co-wrote the screenplay and acted as executive producer.
"'Filth and Wisdom was essentially my way of putting myself through film school," she said.
The project began life as a short, but Madonna said it grew into a feature as she became more involved in the lives of the three main characters.
"When the film was finished, I realised that they were all aspects of me, so the whole experience was both artistic and therapeutic," she said.
Madonna's participation in the Berlinale is in keeping with the distinctly musical flavour of this year's festival, which opened last Thursday with the world premiere of Martin Scorsese's concert movie with The Rolling Stones, "Shine a Light".
The godmother of punk, Patti Smith, attended the screening of a documentary on her career, while rock veteran Neil Young presented a film about Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's 2006 Freedom of Speech Tour.
Fansite Madonnatribe posted a report about the 2 leaked Pharrell tracks: both are going to be on the new album. Candy Shop (now referred to as 'Candy Store') is unchanged from the leaked version, so basically we've already heard one song from the upcoming CD.
On the other hand, The Beat Goes On is a completely different song now, it's a classic dance tune, much faster than the original and has new lyrics, now being a highlight of the album. The only old lyrics used are the chorus and part of the bridge. It features a rap by Kanye West, recorded while putting the finishing touches on the album. The inclusion of Kanye's part was Madonna's idea, apparently.
Today we start celebrating the 10th anniversary of one of Madonna's most loved eras, Ray Of Light! Ten years ago this day, on February 12th, 1998, the first video of the project premiered, Frozen and kicked off an amazing Madonna-year.
The gorgeously shot blue-themed video, directed by Chris Cunningham showed Madonna as a gothic witch walking around the Mojave desert, yearning for her lover while transforming into a flock of ravens and a dog. The video went onto gaining a lot of critical acclaim, including a VMA for Best Special Effects.
The song itself proved to be an instant success on the charts, and among the fans too. The techno-ballad showcased a totally new style for Madonna with electronic beats and lush strings, combined with her ethereal vocals. Up to today, it remains one of Madonna's most successful and loved songs ever.
A Malawian minister on Monday praised Madonna's efforts to rally support for orphans in the southern African nation and said it would be wrong for the government to deny the pop star's adoption of a child there.
Madonna, who is in the process of adopting a Malawian boy, David Banda, hosted a New York event charity event last week that raised millions of dollars for the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the singer's orphan care projects in Malawi.
"This country owes her so much. Very few famous people would take their time off to rally other celebrities to raise money for a poor country like Malawi, which very few people know about," Information Minister Patricia Kaliati told Reuters.
"It will be wrong for Malawi to even dare deny this wonderful woman all the rights to be a parent of David and many more Malawian children," Kaliati said.
Madonna is due to appear before a Malawi court in April for a final hearing on Banda's adoption. She began the adoption proceedings in 2006 after meeting the boy in a local orphanage.
The toddler, now about two years old, is living with Madonna and her film director husband Guy Ritchie in London.
The adoption has been controversial, with critics accusing the government of skirting laws that ban non-residents from adopting children in Malawi, which has been badly hit by the AIDS epidemic and is one of the poorest in the world.
There are an estimated 1 million orphans in the country, many of whom are infected with the HIV virus.
Malawi's government is amending its adoption laws.
While the actual 50th anniversary show of the Grammy Awards hasn't started yet, most of the winners are announced during the pre-show which is taking place now, and Madonna has just won her 7th Grammy for the fantastic DVD of The Confessions Tour in the 'Best Long Form Music Video' category!
Well deserved, congratulations! Madonna is not expected to appear at the actual award show, but her new collaborators Timbaland & Justin Timberlake are nominated for several categories, so we can keep an eye on them tonight @ 8 pm in USA / 2 am in EU.
You can check out all of Madonna's Grammy awards & nominations on our Awards page.
Madonna - Title TBC - Warner Bros, 28 April
It doesn't have a title yet, but the direction of Madonna's new album, her last major release before she turns 50, seems clear: the Barbour-wearing Queen of Pop is hitting the street. Two of the three tracks we heard in an exclusive playback boast productions from the biggest beatmakers in hip hop.
Timbaland evidently reserves his best work for the highest-paying customers because lead single 4 Minutes To Save The World is a mighty effort, powered by superhero horns, ticking clocks and Justin Timberlake's falsetto. On Candy Shop, a sticky clutch of not-so-subtle innuendos ('Come into my store/ I've got candy galore') is traded over a snappy Pharrell Williams beat.
'Give it to Me' slinks into more familiar dance-pop territory, but the chatter behind this album suggests that R&B and hip hop will be its main flavours. Not a revolutionary move from Madonna, but at least she's working with the right people.
Timbaland says: '[The album is] kinda like Holiday with an R&B groove.' Buy this if you liked: Blackout by Britney Spears, Loose by Nelly Furtado.
Justin Timberlake was interviewed in today's Hollywood Daily People issue.
HDP: You worked on Madonna's new album with Timbaland. In what direction did you take her?
Justin Timberlake: Basically, our job was to reinvent her sound. My thing was producing her vocals – really experimenting with rhythm. Everything she does with rhythm is straightforward. What I do is more staccato and R&B. So the challenge for me was writing songs, then saying, "How can I make this sound more like Madonna?" I'm a big fan of her first album. So my mission was to write a modern-day Holiday. I wrote a cool house record for her called "Miles Away" that I think is a smash! She sounds great on it.
HDP: So is it an R&B Madonna?
JT: It's an R&B/pop/dance record, but it's still Madonna. Her voice still sounds like she's 18 year old! It trips me out that she's 49. She's always been rough and tough. Her last couple of records, she's like, "Rrrrrrr!"
HDP: How did she react to your ideas?
JT: A couple of times I pushed her in a direction where it took a minute before we saw eye to eye. Her approach was, "Well, I just haven't done that." And I was like, "Yeah, that's why you should do it."
HDP: So did you teach Madonna how to beatbox?
JT: [Laughs] No, no. We left that to me and Tim.
Yesterday a 17 second-long clip leaked from Madonna's upcoming single with Justin 4 Minutes To Save The World, but the music in the snippet sounds different from the version Timbaland premiered at the Jingle Ball show two months ago, it's more electronic, less hip hop, but still quite funky.
Some fans call it a remix, others say it's just the vocals slowed down and used on an unofficial instrumental, but we wouldn't rule out the possibility of the leak being intentional and this is what we're going to hear in the video (as opposed to the 'live mix' with additonal beats Timbaland was using). You can check it out here, but be aware that it could be taken down anytime.
Also, click here to watch a video of Timbaland's performance from the Gucci event that shows Madonna dancing with Gwyneth Paltrow to Timbaland's megahit 'The Way I Are'!
Lastly, we thought it would be interesting to share with our visitors that Timbaland is going to make the first ever 'mobile album', which means he's going to produce and release a track digitally in every month of 2008 to the subscribers of Verizon's mobile entertainment service, without a physical CD release. We wouldn't be surprised if one of those tracks is going to come from his recording sessions with Madonna.
Access Hollywood interviewed Madonna on the red carpet of the Gucci event and she got asked if Justin and Timbaland are her sex slaves in the new video. She denied it and said "We just dance together!", but we find it funny how it's practically the first time she admits to the press that she actually collaborated with them... ;-)
The carpet was black – not red – on the North lawn of the United Nations, but the parade of stars into Madonna's big-ticket benefit Wednesday night nearly put the Oscars to shame.
The singer (who brought along 11-year-old daughter, Lourdes) spearheaded the event to help bring in cash for UNICEF and her own non-profit organization, Raising Malawi. Even before the event's auction took place, ticket sales had already raised $3.7 million for children made vulnerable by AIDS in Africa.
"Gucci is important to me," Madonna – who has been passionate about Malawi since 2006, when she began adopting a child from the impoverished African nation – told PEOPLE. "Because they stepped up to the plate to support me. And that means a lot."
Also showing support? A gaggle of her A-list friends, including Gwen Stefani, Gwyneth Paltrow, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and Salma Hayek (whose fiancé – and father of her child – Francois-Henri Pinault, oversees Gucci).
A very pregnant Jennifer Lopez – whose father recently confirmed she is expecting twins – stole the scene in a flowing brown Gucci gown with a snakeskin belt. (Even at nine months along, the singer is still rocking high heels. She lifted up her skirt to flash a pair of platforms.)
Her ex, Sean "Diddy" Combs, also hit the event, which coincided with NYC's fashion week. When asked if he had any tips for Lopez, the mogul (who welcomed twins of his own in 2006) replied, "She doesn't need any advice. She's a loving person. She'll make a great mother."
Katie Holmes looked stunning (as usual) in a red, knee-length dress. Carrying a black clutch, she kept her other hand firmly on the back of husband Tom Cruise.
Drew Barrymore and boyfriend Justin Long – both wearing Gucci, of course – jetted in just for the event. "[AIDS awareness] is what we should be talking about in the world," she said. "The is a lot of fluff, a lot of gossip on people's minds. I'd much rather that these subjects be encompassing their brain and hearts."
Madonna also lined up entertainment for the evening, including Rihanna (who admitted she was "definitely nervous") and Timbaland, who spent two months in London working on the singer's new album. "I'm part of the family," he told PEOPLE. "She's such a perfectionist ... She's a gangsta."
The official site of 'I Am Because We Are', Madonna's Malawi documentary is fully launched now. You can read the details and credits of the film, which was written & produced by Madonna herself, and directed by Nathan Rissman. You can also find out how to help in Madonna's mission. The site now also features a touching trailer of the documentary which can be watched here.
Madonna, Chris Rock and dozens of other celebrities raised $3.7 million Wednesday night at a star-studded benefit at the United Nations to help poor and sick children around the world.
The $2,500-a-plate dinner and live auction hosted by Rock was an unusual blend of charity and commercial promotion for the U.N. and made some of its officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, uneasy.
Gucci, which paid the costs, pegged the event to the Friday opening of its Manhattan flagship store on Fifth Avenue and put its logo and UNICEF's behind the walkway where celebrities were photographed.
The United Nations Children's Fund relies on $1 billion in private sector donations for its $3.5 billion global budget, but the U.N. had never before granted permission to a company to erect tents on the north lawn of the U.N. for such a lavish event with a commercial tie-in.
The red-carpet reception drew stars such as Drew Barrymore, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Amy Adams, Brooke Shields, Salma Hayek, Djimon Hounsou, Dita Von Teese and UNICEF Ambassadors Tea Leoni and Lucy Liu, followed by a cocktail party with the likes of Donald Trumpand media mogul Barry Diller.
Celebrities paid $2,500 to $10,000 each to dine on grappa-cured salmon, wild striped bass, tart of goat cheese, foraged mushrooms, truffled mashed potatoes and sticky toffee pudding with creme fraiche. Madonna played videos of Malawi and introduced children from the southern African country. Rihanna, Timbaland and Alicia Keys played music afterward.
Ban, in an unusual move for a U.N. chief who has recently sought the help of celebrities to focus attention on world problems, left New York for Chicago hours before the event got underway even though his appointment there wasn't until Thursday and his schedule for Wednesday night was open.
Alicia Barcena Ibarra, Ban's undersecretary general for administration and management, said her office "should have investigated more fully" before it approved UNICEF'S request to hold the event. Barcena Ibarra said she did not believe it was correct for Gucci to publicize the event in conjunction with the opening of a new store "and I think we have to look into that."
Ban nonetheless told reporters Tuesday he was confident there would be no problems.
"I understand that the main purpose of this event will raise funds for a humanitarian purpose, and I am sure that the proceeds will go to thepurpose of this event," he said.
Tom Cruise bid $100,000 for a sports package that included the privilege of hanging out at Yankee Stadium with Alex Rodriguez and a private hour playing soccer with David Beckham, but lost out to a bidder who ponied up $350,000.
"It was an extraordinary evening. The whole evening was quite moving," Cruise told The Associated Press, accompanied by his wife, Katie Holmes, who agreed. Cruise called the United Nations "an absolute necessity" because of the staff who dedicate their lives to building peace.
A trip to Paris with a tour of a vineyard and lunch with Francois-Henri Pinault and Hayek went for $120,000. The priciest auction item was a $600,000 winning bid to tour with Madonna and take a dance class with her and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Organizers said the proceeds would be collected by the Gucci Foundation, a registered charity, and split among Raising Malawi, an advocacy group that operates under The Kabbalah Centre International, and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, which supports the United Nations Children's Fund.
Security was tight and few reporters were allowed inside the dinner.
Though it is a U.N. agency, UNICEF's operations are overseen by an independent board that doesn't answer to the secretary-general. The U.S.Fund for UNICEF said Wednesday there is "no formal relationship between Raising Malawi and UNICEF."
Madonna has tried to help Malawi orphans since she and her husband, Guy Ritchie began raising a Malawian boy they want to adopt. Rights groups questioned her actions since she took him from an orphanage in 2006 at the age of 1. According to UNICEF, HIV/AIDS affects almost 1 million people in Malawi, including 83,000 children, and half of the country's 1 million orphans have lost one or both parents to AIDS.
"I've earned a reputation for many things: pushing the envelope, for being a provocateur, for never taking no for an answer. For endlessly reinventing myself, for being a cult member, a kidnapper. For being ambitious, outrageous and irreverent. And for never settling for second best," Madonna told the dinner.
"But I don't just want you to write me a check. I'm more interested in your heart. I want to take you on that journey with me tonight. I want you to feel as inspired as I do right now," she said. "Yes, I want to raise Malawi. But if I can do that -- if we can do that -- then the sky's the limit."
Pop star Madonna hosted a celebrity-studded event on Wednesday on the lawns of the United Nations to aid Malawi orphans, the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) and -- controversially -- to inaugurate a new Gucci store.
Actors Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Drew Barrymore, Gwyneth Paltrow and a heavily pregnant Jennifer Lopez were among many stars at the dinner that Gucci Chief Executive Mark Lee said has already raised $3.7 million.
But critics have objected to the use of the U.N. grounds to kick off a Gucci store opening and raised concerns about ties between Madonna's charity Raising Malawi and The Kabbalah Centre, a body devoted to a mystical form of Judaism followed by the pop star.
The accusations, made mainly by bloggers, appear to stem from the fact that Raising Malawi's founder Michael Berg is also co-director of The Kabbalah Centre.
"I don't really pay any attention to that. I am grateful that Gucci has underwritten this event -- that's all that matters to me -- their generosity. There's always controversy surrounding anything that involves change," Madonna told Reuters.
"I want to put Raising Malawi on the map. I want credibility as a philanthropic organization. I want to inspire people. I don't want them to just write me a check: I want them to give me a piece of their heart," she said.
Philippe van den Bossche, executive director of Raising Malawi, said it was "absolutely not true" that any money raised would benefit Kabbalah. He said the organization was a nonprofit, registered, nonsectarian organization intended to provide support for orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi.
A huge tent was erected on the lawns of the United Nations for the event and security was tight. Alicia Keys, Timbaland and Rihanna were due to perform, while comedian Chris Rock was to auction off celebrity events, such as aerobics with Madonna and baseball batting practice with Yankee Alex Rodriguez.
Despite announcing the fundraising event in November as a celebration of the opening of a new Gucci store in New York, Lee said on Wednesday that "it's a coincidence that we happen to be here and we're opening an important store on Friday."
"Really tonight is about the charities and the money we're raising," he told Reuters, while Gucci's Creative Director Frida Giannini said that in the end the dinner was simply a "fundraising event with glamour."
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who did not attend the event, said on Tuesday that he understood the proceeds would "be used for a proper purpose as agreed between UNICEF and the organizers."
Gucci, which is owned by French retailer PPR, has paid for the entire event and said all money raised will be split between Raising Malawi and UNICEF.
Madonna's interest in helping Malawi orphans is personal -- she and her husband, director Guy Ritchie, are raising a young Malawian boy they hope to adopt. But the adoption has hit several stumbling blocks since they took him from an orphanage in late 2006 when he was 13 months old.
Rights groups have accused Madonna of using her fame and wealth to circumvent the country's adoption rules, although the singer has insisted she is following the law. Malawi's High Court is to hold a hearing this year into whether Madonna and Ritchie are suitable parents and should adopt the child.
"I've earned a reputation for many things: pushing the envelope, for being a provocateur, for never taking no for an answer. For endlessly reinventing myself, for being a cult member, a kidnapper. For being ambitious, outrageous and irreverent. And for never settling for second best," Madonna told the dinner.
"But I don't just want you to write me a check. I'm more interested in your heart. I want to take you on that journey with me tonight. I want you to feel as inspired as I do right now," she said. "Yes, I want to raise Malawi. But if I can do that - if we can do that - then the sky's the limit." (source: Monterey Herald)
~ Click here to watch a video with the stars getting interviewed on the red carpet, including Madonna herself.
After dozens of other stars, Madonna has arrived at the red carpet of 'The Night To Benefit Raising Malawi and UNICEF' in New York City, together with daughter Lourdes. Both of them are looking gorgeous!
People magazine posted a list of the 50 most memorable appearances at the past 49 Grammy Award shows. Madonna features twice (at #2 and #14):
HUNG UP: Opening the show in 2006, Madonna got physical in a lavender leotard and matching corset that showed off her yoga-toned body. Her performance was later banned from the Malaysian broadcast, after officials deemed her dance and costume too provocative.
ASIAN FUSION: In her Geisha girl phase in 1999, Madonna opened the show in this flame red kimono. That rendition of [Nothing Really Matters] kicked off a big night for the singer, who won her first Grammy and eventually took home three awards. "I've been in the music business 16 years," she said in her acceptance speech. "This is my first Grammy ... but it was worth the wait and all that."
MSN posted a slideshow about stars forgotten by the Grammy, here's what they said about Madonna:
A 1991 Long-Form Music Video award for her Blond Ambition Tour video only emphasizes Grammy's indifference during Madonna's peak years. The academy finally warmed to Ms. Ciccone with 1998's techno-laced Ray Of Light, handing out three awards (one for Short-Form Video). In 2006, she won the Best Dance Album award for 2006's Confessions On A Dance Floor, appropriate for that beat-driven project, yet faint praise for an artist that dominated the pop landscape in the '80s.
As announced on the site last month, Madonna and Gucci have joined their forces to host a special event called 'A Night To Benefit Raising Malawi and UNICEF', which will take place in New York tonight, February 6th.
Co-chaired by Gucci's Creative Director, Frida Giannini, this event will benefit Raising Malawi and UNICEF, and will consist of dinner followed by a guest speaker, musical performance and an after party. This special evening will be dedicated to raising funds and awareness for orphans and children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Madonna will be joined on the red carpet by some of her close friends and celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Trudie Styler and Sting, Salma Hayek and Francois-Henri Pinault. For more information about Raising Malawi, please visit www.raisingmalawi.org. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.com
Fansite Madonnatribe now reports that the standard version of Madonna's upcoming studio album is going to include 12 tracks. This matches with their previous report about the track 'Across The Sky' being cut from the final tracklist. The acoustic guitar-driven midtempo song featuring Justin Timberlake is now rumoured to appear as a bonus track on a limited edition or as an iTunes bonus download.
William Orbit will be making a rare special guest appearance on Tuesday March 11th at The Space (Southern Performance and Creative Energies) [UK], Brighton's monthly unique media and arts event. The pioneering recording artist and Grammy winning producer will be exclusively interviewed by the Brighton Music Network's Chief Executive, Lisa Holloway, giving an insight into his acclaimed career,in an intimate and low key environment.
The Brighton based event will also feature BBC Radio 4 Senior Announcer Chris Aldridge, discussing his role on the popular radio station. There will be a chance to win some fantastic prizes, including a very special limited edition William Orbit album set, which includes unreleased Madonna songs. Click here for more info.
~ We're guessing that the album containing the unreleased Madonna songs is actually the promo CD set that includes several instrumental versions of Madonna tracks, including Amazing & Time Stood Still.
She may be pushing the big 5-0, but we always knew Madonna would never grow old gracefully.
The Queen of Pop's latest transformation will see her don a dominatrix-style latex catsuit in a raunchier-than-ever video for new single 4 Minutes To Save The World.
We can reveal that in the promo Madge plays - wait for it - a pimp who rescues the planet in an impressive 240 seconds.
And it gets better...
Justin Timberlake and US producer Timbaland play her bitches. Nope, we're not sure quite what the f'hell it's all about either. No doubt her three children will be particularly thrilled to see their mum whipping the two Timbs into shape - and belting out lyrics like: "Come on boy, I'd like to show my addictive control", and "You're mine. Just give it up, can't get control."
The video has been shot over three days in a top-secret location in West London, and included a gruelling all-night shoot yesterday.
In the sexually charged video, Madge cracks the whip and gets her slaves, Justin and Timbaland, to do whatever she wants as she towers over their quivering bodies in killer heels. Careful there Madge, you don't want to do yourself an injury.
The 49-year-old has brought in her fashion-god pals Dolce & Gabbana to create the no-holds-barred outfits.
She's also roped in the winning team behind her Confessions Live sell-out tour in 2006 - including Grammy award-winning Swedish director Jonas Akerlund.
We're told: "One of the highlights in the video is the nightclub scene. Timbaland eyes Madge up in the darkened room, and they disappear off to get close. The camera cuts to Madonna challenging JT to a dance-off and it is just magnificent. They get up close and personal in the battle of the gyrating hips, with sweat dripping all over their bodies." Guy Ritchie's gonna love it. We think not.
~ The concept of the video has not been confirmed yet, and it seems there's a confusion about the director.
"Madonna has pegged April 29 as the release date for her yet-untitled album, her rep confirmed to MTV News." Since we don't think MTV would make a false reference to Madonna's representatives like that, we're considering this official now.
Justin Timberlake got one heck of a 27th birthday surprise on Thursday (January 31) when Madonna presented him with a cupcake and champagne on the set of her new video, Madge's representative told MTV News. The clip, for 4 Minutes to Save the World, is currently being shot in London with director Jonas Åkerland (Maroon 5, James Blunt) and will feature JT as well as Timbaland. The track will appear on Madonna's yet-untitled LP, due this year.
UPDATE: MTV.com has made a correction in the news item and instead of Jonas Akerlund as the director, now it writes "directors Jonas & Francois (who helmed Justice's "D.A.N.C.E.")". We wonder if Madonn's representatives asked MTV to correct that info...↑ Back to top of page