15 February - New Madonna album 'upbeat and urban'
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. (source: EW.com)
14 February - Jamie King choreographs new Madonna video
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.
14 February - Critics give Madonna a gentle mauling for directing debut
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. (source: AFP via Yahoo)
14 February - Filth and Wisdom shows Madonna has real potential as director
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. (source: Times Online)
14 February - Filth and Wisdom oddly appealing
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. (source: Reuters via Yahoo)
14 February - Madonna on 'own journey' in Berlin
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." (source: Billboard)
13 February - Madonna holds press conference in Berlin
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.
13 February - Director's debut at Berlin film fest
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. (source: AFP)
12 February - The fate of the leaked Pharrell tracks
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. You can watch the video of Frozen here.
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.
11 February - Malawi minister says Madonna adoption should not be denied
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. (source: Reuters via Yahoo)
10 February - Madonna wins Grammy for The Confessions Tour DVD!
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.
10 February - New album among essentials for spring
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. (source: Guardian Unlimited)
08 February - Justin: our job was to reinvent her sound
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. (source: Drownedmadonna)
08 February - Leaked clip causes confusion among fans
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. Check out Billboard to read the details.
08 February - Madonna denies dominatrix theme of new video
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... ;-)
07 February - Madonna & Gucci throw an A-list charity bash
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." (source: People.com)
07 February - Official site of Malawi documentary launched
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.
07 February - Fundraiser event draws celebs, questions
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." (source: New York Times)
07 February - Madonna, Gucci aid Malawi orphans amid controversy
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.
Gucci opening a 'coincidence'
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. (source: Reuters via Yahoo)
"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.
07 February - Madonna dazzles on red carpet with daughter at Gucci event
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!
06 February - Madonna among 50 most memorable Grammy looks
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.
06 February - Gucci fund raising event happening tonight
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 (source: Madonna.com)
05 February - Standard edition of new album to contain 12 tracks?
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.
05 February - William Orbit to appear at the Space event
Taken from famous Madonna producer Willam Orbit's official site:
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.
02 February - Madonna cracks whip on Justin & Timbaland
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. (source: Daily Mirror)
~ The concept of the video has not been confirmed yet, and it seems there's a confusion about the director.
02 February - MTV reveals new album release date *official*
From MTV.com: "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.
01 February - Madonna sings Happy Birthday to Justin
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. (source: MTV)
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...
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