According to the Madonna Information Report # 1038, the following UK release dates are confirmed:
November 10th - Nothing Fails
November 24th - Box Set (Title to be Advised)
~ As long as there's no official confirmation on Madonna.com, we'll treat this as a rumour. The second children book 'Mr. Peabody's Apples' will be released on November 10th; it wouldn't be a bad idea to link the book with the release of the single. We'll keep you informed.
Madonna will visit New York City on Monday (September 29) for a book-signing event at the Rockefeller Center Barnes & Noble store beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET. The pop music icon, actress, and best-selling author's first book for children, the English Roses, will enter the New York Times best-seller list in the October 5 edition of the New York Times Book Review. Her work will rank in the Number One spot for children's picture books.
Every customer who purchases a copy of the English Roses at that store on Monday will receive a free limited-edition English Roses poster. The book already debuted on the USA Today best-seller list at Number Seven among all of the books sold in America last week. It's also Number Two on the Amazon.com children's best-seller list and it's the Number One best-seller on bn.com, Barnes & Noble's online bookstore.
The English Roses is a 48-page hardcover book featuring illustrations by renowned fashion artist Jeffrey Fulvimari. It tells a story that emphasizes the importance of compassion and the rewards of friendship among five schoolgirls in contemporary London.
In the UK the book is Number Two on the UK Bookscan children's best seller list, and the book is a best-seller in countries as diverse as Taiwan, Slovenia, and Iceland.
Mr. Peabody's Apples, the second in Madonna's series of five books for children, will be released globally on November 10, 2003.
The video for Britney Spears' forthcoming single will be directed by Guy Ritchie and will also feature the missus. The mockney Lock Stock director will be behind the camera on the shoot for Me Against The Music, in which Madonna, who collaborates on the track, will play a typically modest role.
Her Madge will play a leather-clad dominatrix with a string of semi-naked 'bitches' on leashes. It isn't known if Britney will play one of those bitches. The video will see Madonna playing the matriarch of a nightclub, who lures innocent scantily-clad Britney into a private room filled with other scantily-clad young women.
Fans will see parallels with the tongue-fest enjoyed by the two singers at the recent MTV Video Awards, when her Madge took the lead (and saliva) with both Britters and Christina Aguilera. Denials followed, however, with Madonna claiming since that it was the Hit Me Baby singer who instigated the lip-lock. 'In all the rehearsals it was pecking,' Mrs Ritchie swore.
No doubt all the rehearsals for the forthcoming video will feature no leather or leashes. Considering how much Guy seemed to enjoy his wife's performance at the MTV show, the Snatch director will have little trouble shooting, though cynics suggest it isn't a good idea for the couple to work together again, ever, after Swept Away.
Madonna has another No. 1 hit, this time on the book charts. The singer's children's story, "The English Roses," was published simultaneously around the world Sept. 15 and will top The New York Times' children's list for the Oct. 5 edition.
"It demonstrates once again that Madonna has an extraordinary gift for communicating with children of all ages," Nicholas Callaway, CEO of Callaway Arts & Entertainment, the book's U.S. publisher, said in a statement Thursday.
According to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks sales in the United States, Madonna's book sold 57,369 copies in its first full week, ranking No. 5 overall. The top seller was Dr. Phil McGraw's "The Ultimate Weight Solution," with sales of 215,536.
This week, The English Roses is at no. 7 the US Top 150 best-selling books list (based on sales through Sunday, Sept. 21, 2003). It's even no. 1 in the list of children's books!
The literary debut by pop star Madonna has exceeded expectations in its first week in British shops, becoming the country's fastest-selling children's picture book ever, its publishers said.
"The English Roses", chronicling the ostracism of a little girl by her peers for the seemingly unlikely reasons of her being too beautiful and clever, sold 10,000 copies in its first week of sale, publishers Puffin said.
This placed it second in the children's best-seller lists, just behind "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", the fifth installment in J.K. Rowling's series about the boy wizard. That book sold a somewhat more spectacular 1.8 million copies in its first day of release in June.
Nonetheless, bookshops professed themselves delighted with sales of "The English Roses", which features illustrations by Jeffrey Fulvimari and was released simultaneously in 100 countries. "The English Roses is performing beyond all expectations. It is selling incredibly well," said a spokesman for the Waterstone's chain.
Britney's official site has said that the video of Me Against The Music will premiere on MTV's Making The Video on October 13.
Madonna apparently has been confirmed to be in the video and it should begin shooting within the next few days.
Madonna's children's book The English Roses has sold just over 8,000 copies in its first week in the UK. The book, launched amid a blaze of publicity, made it to number 17 in the national book chart, according to data company Nielsen Bookscan.
It was the second bestselling children's book of the week, behind JK Rowling's fifth Harry Potter book. This week the top-selling book in the UK, David Beckham's autobiography My Side, sold 103,508 copies.
Madonna's book, her first for children, has been translated into 42 languages and is on sale in 100 countries. The English Roses sold 8,270 copies in its opening week, 220 copies fewer than the number one children's book, JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was first published in June. The Harry Potter book, which also backed by a massive marketing campaign, sold more than 1.7 million copies in the UK on it first day of release three months ago through bookshops and the internet.
To mark the launch of The English Roses, Madonna threw a tea party in Kensington, west London, on 14 September inviting friends and celebrities and their children , including actress Patsy Palmer and interior designer Linda Barker. The guests were invited to walk up a pink, sparkly carpet, surrounded by barriers adorned with butterflies and roses.
Madonna then read an extract of the book, aimed at children over the age of six, to the assembled young audience. Children's poet Michael Rosen commented that in the book "Madonna takes on the voice of a slightly bossy teacher, telling her readers to not interrupt and to listen carefully" in a review of The English Roses for BBC News Online.
Madonna has said before that she's working on a musical. According to some sources, her brother-in-law Joe Henry (Guilty By Association, Don't Tell Me) has announced in an interview that he's collaborating on the project and that Madonna is to take the leading role.
More info as soon as it's available! (thanx to Dot's Gugarko, and to Tony for directing my attention to it ;-)
BMG Brasil has posted the lyrics of 'Me Against The Music', Britney's new single featuring Madonna. Read them here.
This weekend the Chicago nightclub "Hydrate" had a huge premiere weekend for it's resident DJ/Production team "Rosabel" (Ralphie Rosario, & Abel Aguilar). You might remember them from TONS of Gloria Estefan remixes as well as Amber, Donna Summer, M Street, Ultra Nate, Donna Blakely, etc... and the number one club hit, "You Used to Hold Me"
Saturday night Ralphie Rosario took to the turntables and at precisely 1:00 AM, he world premiered the teams OFFICIAL remix of Love Profusion. A very dark and energetic remix, that has a great intro build and then goes into an amazing vocal with Maddy singing the vocals very boldly!
Apparently when Madonna was here in Chicago 2 weeks ago for the taping of the Oprah Show, she sqeezed in a 3-4 hour studio recording session, where she re-recorded part of the vocals for the track. The re-recorded vocals give the mix a very new harder edge. The vocals are not much different from the original except they are harder and more intense.
Ralphie said Madonna and Warner were still not sure of the release date for the song but that Warner is still planning on releasing Love Profusion as a single! Ralphie has been a great friend of mine for years, and is very professional. If he knew the release date, I'm sure he would have told me!
This is the team's second official Madonna remix, back in 1994 they were commissioned along with David Morales, Roger Sanchez, Mark Picchiotti & Teri Bristol to remix Bedtime Story for the Chapter II release, but the Picchiotti & Bristol remixes were the ones that Warner released.
~ So far there are rumours about remixes for Nothing Fails, Nobody Knows Me and Love Profusion, while none has been officially confirmed as single. It's about time Warners starts clearing up some things...
Madonna's new 2004 calendar will be shipping this Friday, Sept 26th. If you want to be included in the initial shipment, make sure you pre-order your calendar today. This beautiful calendar is packed with images of Madonna for all year.
Also, the next issue of ICON, Madonna's fan club magazine, will be shipping within the next two weeks. ICON 39 has articles on American Life, Will & Grace, Herb Ritts, and loads more.
If you are already a member, you will get yours soon. If you are not a member yet, click here to find out how to join. ICON 40 will be shipping before the end of the year and will include a special pull out poster.
I've seen the latest Oprah Winfrey show with Madonna. To open the show, Madonna and Oprah get into the groove with the GAP dancers. Then they talk about the English Roses, the principles of the Kabbalah, working and living with Guy, and the effect that her children have on Madonna's life.
According to Madonna, Lourdes isn't aware of her mum's sexy alter-ego. They call paparazzies "bunnies" that follow them around. Talking about her kiss with Britney, Madonna says she doesn't understand what the fuss is about, and that it wasn't intended as a provocation.
All in all, no shocking news in this interview, but fun to watch anyway. You can read the transcript of the Oprah interview at the site of MarknDC. You can alo download the entire interview in .wmv format at MadonnaInter.net.
It was a moment that captivated the nation, but what would it have been like if Madonna had picked different kissmates for her VMA performance? As it turns out, Pink was supposed to be there too. "It was originally supposed to be different people involved," Pink told MTV News Europe, "but I didn't even know [what was going to happen during the performance]. The kiss wasn't even talked about."
Rumors had been rampant before the Video Music Awards that Madonna would be taking the stage with representatives of the younger pop generation, but talk had centered mostly on Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez.
Pink escaped the rumor mill because she backed out before rehearsals began. "I had one vacation all year," Pink explained, "and I was not leaving my vacation to go into a rehearsal studio, which sounds ridiculous, but you know, I just said, 'I can't be at those rehearsals, but I can learn it for that day, and I'm sure that I'll be more than capable of doing it.' "
That proposal, however, wasn't acceptable, and Pink was taken out of the running. But since she was only apprised of the singing aspect of the performance, not the kissing, it begs the question: Had scheduling not been a problem, would she have been willing to make out with Madonna? She says yes and insists she's amused that the same-sex liplock generated so many headlines. "I'm very surprised that kisses, or girl-on-girl, or guy-on-guy, is that interesting still, to this day," she laughed.
Peter Rauhofer has recently added his new remix of Madonna's Into the Hollywood Groove to his Roxy airplay, as well as his newly finished remix of Nothing Fails which is scheduled for release November 10th. His remixes of Nobody Knows Me are to be the b-sides!
Peter is currently in the studio remixing Madonna & Britney Spears' upcoming single "Me Against the Music".
Q magazine celebrates the 20th anniversary of Madonna's first album with a 148-page, full-colour, luxury special collector's edition, containing...
* Classic Madonna interviews from 1983-2003
* Rare and unseen photographs
* Madonna Revealed! What is she really like?
* From The Virgin Tour to Drowned World: Madonna Live!
* The Top 20 Madonna Songs - as voted by fans everywhere
* On sale from 26 September.
Available in all good newsagents, price £5.99. Or by ordering online from here.
Madonna is coming under attack for preaching her new religion to children. The singer has penned a much-hyped kiddie's book "The English Roses," a tale about the hazards of jealousy.
Madonna has said the book was inspired by her studies of Kabbalah, an esoteric form of Judaism, but some critics are charging that she's using her fame to proselytize her beliefs to impressionable youngsters. "Star Launches Kids' Book Based on the Kabbalah Cult," read one UK headline.
"As Madonna Pens Children's book on Kabbalah, Is the Sect Exploiting Her Devotion to It?" asks another headline, which goes on to discuss the "Cult Guru and his Rich Puppets." Fodder for the critics is that the books main character is Binah, which is Hebrew for wisdom.
Madonna's spokeswoman couldnt be reached for comment.
I miss Madonna. Not this new Madonna, who, while we weren't looking, apparently turned into Kathie Lee Gifford. I miss the old one, the rule- breaker, the one who could be counted on to scandalize.
When I reviewed the old Madonna's photo book "Sex," back in 1992, I was way more popular around the office than today, when all I've got is her first children's book, "The English Roses." With "Sex," every male within earshot found some excuse to saunter by my desk and, oh, by the way, take a little look-see at the book. By contrast, no one has been interested in "The English Roses," not even the women.
And who can blame them? Of the two, "Sex" is the better book. That photo of her hitchhiking in the nude, accessorized only by a purse and a cigarette, is memorable to this day. Meanwhile, I can barely remember "The English Roses," the first of five Madonna-penned books scheduled for printing. And I just read it three hours ago.
The English Roses of the title are four neighborhood girls of 11 who treat a fifth girl shabbily because they are envious of her beauty. At a slumber party, the mother of one of the girls urges them to be nice to the outcast. That night they each dream that a fairy godmother gives them a tour of the girl's house.
It turns out her mother is dead and she lives a lonely, chore-ridden life. Upon waking, the English Roses realize they are lucky to have their lives instead of hers, and vow to A) be nicer to her, and B) quit complaining about their own lives. The moral of the story could be summed up thus: "See? Mother was Right." And this from the woman who made waves singing Papa Don't Preach.
Life moves on, and Madonna has gone from being the consummate rule-breaker to being the ultimate rule-enforcer, an uber- mother lecturing not only her own children, but everybody else's as well. What child wants to read a book in which Mom proves them wrong again? Nearly all successful children's literature -- from the Brothers Grimm to Nancy Drew -- gets the adults out of the way in the first chapter so the fun can begin.
Instead, we get a plodding and didactic missive deep from the woods of Mommyville. It is void of any adventure, any danger, any deliciously forbidden feelings. There are a few glimmers of clever language, but not nearly enough to satisfy the listening needs of a 6- or 8-year-old. (The illustrations, by Jeffrey Fulrimari, are terrific.) It's not particularly important that this is inept children's literature.
Children's librarians and children themselves have a knack for discovering the good stuff. Neither were counting on Madonna's help. No, it's mothers who stand to be disappointed. Any woman who re-invented the cone bra as outerwear has the creativity to write a terrific children's book. Unfortunately, the truly scary message from this one is that motherhood makes you dull.
Madonna and Britney Spears' raunchy kiss at the MTV Video Music Awards seems to have worked wonders for the young singer, who feels the episode has made her mature as an artist.
According to a report in Ratethemusic.com, the blonde is all in awe of the Material Girl and is grateful for her guidance since their on-stage smooch, which created a media fervour. The "Oops!...I Did It Again" singer is desperate to prove her mettle and convince fans that she has "grown up".
Close friends insist that apart from influencing Britney's career makeover, the Evita star has also been instrumental in converting Spears to the Jewish cult of Kabbalah, which she follows.
"Madonna has become a real mentor to Britney. They spent a lot of time rehearsing for the MTV awards and Madonna has converted Britney to the cult. Britney is desperate to prove she's grown up and was delighted with Madonna being her mentor," a close pal was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the Sun and Teen Hollywood reported that the pop diva is all set to lend her vocal skills to Britney Spears' next single, "Me Against The Music", which will be the first single from Britney's 'Get In The Zone' album, out on November 17.
Oprah: Was [kissing Britney Spears at the MTV Video Music Awards] planned, or spontaneous?
Madonna: It was meant to be a playful, ironic comment on the bride and groom kissing. I had two brides (Britney and Christina Aguillera), and I was going to kiss both of my brides. In all of the rehearsals, it was very [innocent].
If Britney looks like she was kissing me in an aggressive manner, it was a surprise to me! I'm a showgirl, and after 20 years in show business, we learn to roll with the punches. You get a lemon, you make lemonade; if someone comes at you with their lips slightly parted, you have to kiss them!
It was totally meant in innocence and fun, and I don't know why people are making such a big deal out of it.
Oprah: Are you still the 'Material Girl?'
Madonna: I'm so not the material girl. There were many years in my life where I thought fame, fortune and public approval would bring me happiness.
After I made Evita, I won a Golden Globe, and I was about to have a baby.
I felt like I had everything, but something was missingan understanding of who I really was. Up until that point, I felt I was controlled by the ups and downs in my life.
Oprah: Was there something in particular that happened for you to change?
Madonna: The biggest thing was probably that I was about to become a parent. I wanted to understand what I was going to teach my daughter. I didn't really understand where I stood on things.
I think that was my wake-up call. I wanted to understand how I was going to go about finding true and lasting happiness in my life and how I was going to teach that to my daughter.
Oprah: Do you think so far you've been able to present Lourdes with a normal childhood?
Madonna: Yeah, I do, as normal as it could be. When we get home and the doors are closed, we don't play up the idea that there are celebrities living in the house. We don't talk about fame, we don't have magazines in the house and we don't watch television.
We're cut off from that. She knows I sing and dance for a living. She's been to a million photo shoots, and knows that's Mom's work.
Oprah: What do you think now when you look back at some of those years all the girls who were imitating you and wanted the illusion of what you had?
Madonna: I think, "wow, I had a huge desire to receive." I had big dreams, I was ambitious, courageous and provocative, but I didn't have the whole picture of life. But I did the best that I could with the knowledge that I had.
Oprah: And when you know better, you do better.
Madonna has come a long way since she published her last book, "Sex" -- and she's the first one to agree. The controversial singer released her first children's book, "The English Roses," Monday.
She says when she published "Sex," she was interested in pushing boundaries and questioning taboos and showing off. Or, as she put it, "I was interested in myself." She said that book was about her, while her children's books are about sharing wisdom with children.
"The English Roses" is the first of five children's books Madonna plans to publish. Madonna said she isn't writing children's books to become more famous. She says it's because she wants to share something she knows.
"The English Roses" is about four friends who are jealous of a classmate. Madonna, who has studied ancient Jewish mystical tradition, says her kabbalah teacher suggested she write the books as a form of sharing.
Madonna wasn't happy with the idea, but changed her mind when she realized the books she was reading her 7-year-old daughter Lourdes didn't have many spiritual lessons. She says writing for children is the most fun she's ever had of all the things she's done creatively.
Lourdes loves the book. However, Madonna said her son is only 3 and "if it's not about a truck or a car, he's not interested."
Madonna chose the name "The English Roses" for her children's book because it turns out her daughter knows them personally. Lourdes goes to a French school in London. Madonna went to a meeting with Lourdes' teacher and asked if Lourdes had a lot of friends.
The teacher said yes, Lourdes hangs out with the English roses. Madonna had no idea what that meant. The teacher explained the English roses were four girls who stick together because they're English and nearly everyone else in the school is French. Madonna thought that was cute -- and she snagged the idea for her book's title.
Britney's official website announces that Madonna will feature on Britney's new single 'Me Against The Music', which is the first single for her 4th studio album 'Get In The Zone'.
The single will hit radio soon and the video will premiere on MTV's Making The Video on October 13th. It hasn't been specified yet exactly what input Madonna has in the song. More info soon!
In the reading corner at Islington's Hugh Myddleton primary school, year four stopped maths to hear a new book. The eight- and nine-year-olds were not sure if they would have been that excited about a new book if it had not been written by the pop icon Madonna. "Didn't she kiss a girl, or was that Britney Spears?" wondered one boy, who knew her "from the newspapers".
The English Roses, published yesterday, had the biggest simultaneous world launch in publishing history in 30 languages and 100 countries. A story of four well-dressed and unwittingly bitchy girls, it purports to be a morality tale drawn from the Kabbalah, the school of Jewish mysticism which Madonna has studied for some years. When the four girls realise their beautiful, but ostracised, classmate has no mother and does all the cleaning at home, they relent and let her come on their picnics.
After the pop, the Hollywood films, the nudity and the foray on to the West End stage, Madonna, 45, aims to resuscitate her serious side with five children's morality tales by 2004. But like her London theatre debut, the book has had a mixed reception. First impressions have ranged from "a fabulous, affirmative ending" to suggestions that with "no characterisation, no story and a flat tone" it would never have been published if not for the name on the spine.
In year four, at least 10 pupils said their mothers had Madonna's albums. But Madonna was best known to the children "for those new adverts for trousers for the Gap". The global branding message aimed at the pop star's target audience of six- to nine-year-olds had clearly been achieved. The clothing chain, Gap, is stocking Madonna's book as part of its advertising deal.
Whether children can afford to buy the English Roses is a different issue. "Twelve pounds, ninety-nine pence? No way, it's more than Harry Potter," said Wasif. "Can I get it out of the library?"
It struck a painful chord with the children who had been bullied. "It teaches you that instead of leaving people out because you are different to them, you should let them join in," said Alexis. Amy, who identified with the bullied Binah, said: "It teaches you should be nice to people who are new to your school."
"It makes me feel like I did when it happened to me," said Jago. "It teaches you bullying is wrong." She admitted that other stories, poems and school lessons taught her bullying was wrong. Madonna's book, which was "like Cinderella", was not new.
But the pop star's finger-wagging narratorial style sometimes hit a blank wall. "Now stop interrupting me," says the narrator as if from nowhere. Year four, who had sat silent, patiently listening, looked faintly startled.
The bright, supermodel-style illustrations by the fashion artist Jeffrey Fulvimari were well received. "That's Barbie" and "that's Kylie" came the cries from the floor. "It looks like it was done on the internet," said Wasif, impressed.
Meanwhile Madonna appeared at the book's Paris launch last night, recovering from her announcement that she did not know who Enid Blyton was. Asked in London if she aimed to be the next Blyton, the American-born star looked blank and asked: "Who is that? Is she good?"
Madonna has kissed Brittany, appeared in GAP ads with Missy and turned prissy all in the last two weeks. The multi-faceted singer was also on Oprah Tuesday promoting her new children's book, "The English Roses". It's a book that teaches lessons of acceptance.
"If I leaned over and kissed you right now it would probably make national news, we could fly to New York and be on Howard Stern tomorrow but would that advance my career as a children's author?
I certainly hope not and I think that's something to keep in mind do you want that person coming into your home as an author for a children's book I don't think so, I don't as a mother," said Kat Shehata, local children's author. Shehata isn't thrilled that Madonna's book has shot to number one on Amazon's children's bestseller list.
But others say she deserves it. "She's also a mom and I think that's part of the reason she wrote this book. I mean everyone changes, I really... it's a good book to get," said Virginia Mulholland, Joseph-Beth Booksellers. Can the woman known for her sex book and racy videos dazzle a new younger audience?
9News' Andrea Canning read the book to some girls at Cornerstone Montessouri in Dayton, Kentucky. They gave a thumbs up for the book but they didn't want to talk about Madonna, just her message. "To be nice to people not to judge how they look and act," said one student.
"It teaches kids to be nice to people that they don't really know," another student said. "I was a little apprehensive because of her reputation but actually she's matured, it's good for pre-teen girls so they don't judge other people and who knows better about judging then Madonna cause she's been judged," said Jeannine Gallenstein, mother.
Katie Couric's got one. So does John Travolta. Not to mention Jerry Seinfeld, Judge Judy and Olivia Newton-John. And now, make way for Madonna.
With Monday's release of "The English Roses," ($19.95, Callaway Editions) the Material Girl joins the long line of celebrities who have penned and published children's books. As usual, Madonna -- who says she was inspired by reading bedtime stories to her daughter -- entered the fray with no shortage of drama. Publishers in at least 30 countries took the unusual step of embargoing the title for simultaneous worldwide release.
Even booksellers were allowed to view only a few pages before placing their orders. Within hours of its release, it climbed to the No. 6 spot on Amazon.com's sales list and was poised to climb higher. Proceeds will be donated to charity. Because of the strict secrecy surrounding the book, reviewers are just beginning to weigh in on the question of Madonna's literary talents. Still, publishers have already promised a series of five Madonna storybooks.
The initial print run of "The English Roses" is 1 million worldwide, with more than 750,000 copies in America, according to the publisher. Clearly, a celebrity name on the cover provides a strong selling point for publishers. But that doesn't mean the books will also get respect.
"People think that because they can act and they can sing they can sit down and write a children's book," laments Linda Duncan, a children's specialist for Contra Costa County libraries. "What really irritates me is that they always seem to choose a children's picture book. Those are actually the most difficult things to write. They're so short that every word is crucial."
Skeptical? Just pick up a classic like "Where the Wild Things Are" or "Goodnight Moon," says Duncan, and you'll notice how perfectly the language has been chosen. "To me, (the celebrity books) kind of demean children's literature," she adds. "It's a big insult," agrees Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff, the Pleasant Hill author of several children's books.
"Many of us feel upset when we hear about another celebrity author." "Writing is a lot of work, and people don't know that you work," says Koehler-Pentacoff, who's also written a how-to guide called "The ABC's of Writing for Children."
"People think you just sit down and you start writing.... It's not an easy job, it's very difficult, and it takes years to get something published." The popularity of celebrity authorship, says Koehler-Pentacoff, reflects a larger shift in children's publishing: the growing financial pressures that make marketing ever-more important.
Still, she tries to look on the bright side when stars reap publicity and acclaim for often mediocre efforts: "I try to think, maybe that book made a lot of money, maybe that editor was able to buy a quality book from another unknown author who otherwise night not have been published." Critics have soundly lambasted many celebrity picture books, including those penned by Couric, Sarah Ferguson, Dr. Laura and Carly Simon.
But everyone agrees that a few titles do stand on their own merit. "Jamie Lee Curtis' books are consistently good," says Duncan. "Her use of language is good, they have child appeal, and they're fun to read ... Basically, she can write."
Koehler-Pentacoff says she's proud to own several children's books written by Fred Gwynne, better known to TV fans as Herman Munster. "His stuff was fabulous," she says. "He was an extremely talented man." And Julie Andrews' books, first published decades ago under the pen name Julie Edwards, are counted among children's classics, notes Michael Barnard, owner of Danville's Rakestraw books.
Barnard, whose store is known for its strong children's selection, says he's enjoyed one of the books from actor John Lithgow, and last week was holding out hope for Madonna's book: "The pages I saw were very pretty and it seemed nice." Still, he says, "I think the most exciting stuff in children's books is still coming out of non-celebrity writers."
Barnard laments that what seems to capture the media's attention about children's literature seems to have little to do with the books themselves. "News is about what's extraordinary," he explains, "but there's so much fantastic original stuff by people who are doing this day in and day out."
The English Roses tells the story of four little girlsNicole, Amy, Charlotte, and Gracewho are eleven years old and the very best of friends. "They are practically glued to each other at the hip," writes Madonna in her book, and they are all "a little bit jealous of another girl in the neighborhood"a beautiful girl named Binah, whose seemingly perfect life makes them "green with envy."
However, when a feisty, pumpernickel-loving fairy godmother takes them on a magical journey, they learn to their great surprise that Binah's life is not nearly as enviable as it had seemed. The English Roses is an inspiring story about the importance of compassion and the rewards of friendship.
Madonna drew on her own experiences while writing this book. "As a child, I experienced jealousy and envy toward other girls for any number of reasons: I was jealous they had mothers, jealous they were prettier and richer," she says. "It isn't until you grow up that you realize what a waste of time those feelings are."
Publisher Nicholas Callaway says, "I believe The English Roses and the four books to follow are destined to become contemporary classics. They are surprisingly traditional, in the best sense. The stories are delightful, the art is exquisite, and the characters are endearing.
Madonna has brilliantly captured the playful spirit of girls together with their friends. All five books convey important and encouraging messages for children of all ageseven grown-up ones. It has been a great partnership working with Madonna on this project," he continues.
"She is a creative engine with an unerring eye and an absolutely clear idea of the finished work. I see how she has achieved her incomparable success: she has earned it every day." Callaway adds, "Jeffrey Fulvimariin this, his first bookhas perfectly complemented Madonna's story with a visual narrative that is stylish, timeless, and enchanting to children."
The highest production standards mark the creation of The English Roses , which features premium paper, state-of-the-art digital prepress and printing, and a matte-laminated jacket with a shiny "lip gloss" effect. Collectible first edition copies are enclosed in an eye-popping, polka-dotted slipcase and are available in limited quantities.
The English Roses is the first of five children's books by Madonna, each set in a different time and place, featuring a new cast of characters brought to life by celebrated illustrators from around the world. The second book, 'Mr. Peabody's Apples' will be released worldwide on November 10th, 2003.
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Madonna who loved to sing, dance and dress up. As a grown-up, she sang, danced and dressed up in ever-new and flamboyant styles, and the world loved her for it. But she wanted to do more. She tried acting the world didn't like that so much. So she thought she'd write a book for children.
The result is "The English Roses," the first of five planned kids' tales written by Madonna and zestily illustrated by American fashion artist Jeffrey Fulvimari. A slight volume, about and largely aimed at young girls, the book was published Monday in superstar quantities 1 million copies in 30 languages, from Estonian to Faroese. Proceeds from sales are going to charity.
The titular Roses are four young school friends who live in an idealized funky, leafy London, full of picnics, ice-skating and pajama parties. They have fabulous clothes and great accessories, but they envy and ostracize another girl, Binah, who is pretty, athletic, kind and has "silky hair and skin like milk and honey."
By story's end with the help of a fairy godmother and some magic dust the Roses mend their ways and discover that Binah's life is, well, no bed of roses. Madonna's authorial tone is matter-of-fact and agreeable, if a tad flat. The book is not likely to be a vocabulary-builder, but it trots along pleasantly enough, with the occasional tart interjection from the author: "Now," she writes at one point, "stop interrupting me."
Fulvimari's fashion background shows in his angular, boldly colored illustrations the Roses dress as stylishly as supermodels and he borders each of the pages with little roses or bright patterns, giving plenty for young readers to look at. Madonna has said the tale draws on the teachings of Kabbalah, the school of Jewish mysticism she has studied for several years.
She has said she based the characters on her 6-year-old daughter Lourdes' London classmates, and the story on Lourdes' struggle as the daughter of a superstar. "In school often children can be quite mean and ostracize her because I'm her mother," Madonna told Britain's Sunday Times.
"Everyone thinks, 'She's got everything so we won't pay attention to her.'" "The English Roses" has a simple moral: don't judge people by appearances, and don't envy others' apparent good fortune. "Easy for her to say," you might think. But that would be unkind, wouldn't it, children?
Twelve years after Madonna gave adults the raunchy picture-book SEX, she has turned to a younger audience. Her children's book, The English Roses, enjoyed a wide release yesterday, appearing in 100 countries and in 30 languages including Estonian and Faroese.
The story, illustrated by American fashion artist Jeffrey Fulvimari, tells the tale of a talented and attractive young schoolgirl who is shunned by four other girls out of jealousy.
Madonna, who is 45, has said she conceived The English Roses as the first of five children's books derived from the Kabbalah, the system of Jewish mystical thought which she has been studying for seven years. Her daughter Lourdes, who is 7, was the inspiration for the heroine, she told The Times Magazine in London.
In Lourdes' London school "children can be quite mean and ostracize her because I'm her mother," Madonna said. "Everyone thinks, `She's got everything so we won't pay attention to her.'" In Madonna's book, the girls being mean, who are remarkably thin, well dressed and delicately featured themselves, eventually discover their nemesis is not so bad and invite her into their clique.
As of 4:30 p.m. yesterday, Amazon.com listed The English Roses (retailing in Canada for $28) at No. 6 on its U.S. bestseller list. Canadian buyers appeared to be less enthralled as Amazon.ca ranked the book at No. 82. Jill Lawless, a London-based Associated Press book reviewer, said although the volume isn't likely to be a vocabulary-builder, it "trots along pleasantly enough."
"Madonna's authorial tone is matter-of-fact and agreeable, if a tad flat," she added. As of noon yesterday, Eleanor LaFave of Mabel's Fables bookstore in Toronto said she'd received no calls enquiring about the book. She expected to see a greater response after Madonna appears on Oprah today.
Nancy Frater, owner of Booklore in Orangeville, also expects the book to find an audience. "I think it's going to sell well, but we have to wait until the jury's in about the quality of the book," she said. "Some people could look at it and say `Oh it's just another celebrity writing a book.' But we shouldn't short-change it."
Adel Khalaf, who describes herself as a Madonna freak, said she heard about the book early yesterday, and scrambled to find a copy. She found one at the Eaton Centre Indigo."I've already read part of the book and it seems really good the illustrations are great," she said.
"I want to see what her writing is like in terms of relating to her kids." Some buyers of the book have already posted reviews on Amazon.com. Madonna fan Benjamin Davis of London gave the book five stars while U.S. poster Michael E. Walker gave it only one, saying "Please do not purchase this. It is totally unacceptable. This is just her way of cashing in on motherhood."
Material Girl no more? Madonna says writing children's books is more fulfilling than being a pop chart queen or a movie star. Her book, The English Roses, went on sale Monday, appearing in 100 countries and in 30 languages as the first in her series of five tales for children.
The pop diva, whose only book until now was the racy 1992 photo essay titled Sex, said she wrote the books to teach children some of the life lessons she's learned over the years. "The most fun that I've had of all the things I've done creatively has been to write these books," she told reporters in Paris, where the book's 32 publishers were gathered.
"A lot of it has to do with the fact I'm not doing it to become more famous, and I'm not doing it to become richer. I'm not doing it because I think it's cool," Madonna said. "I'm doing it because I want to share something I know with children."
Hours after its release, the 48-page book was already No. 8 on Amazon.com's sales list. The initial print run is one million copies worldwide, with more than 750,000 in the United States, publisher Callaway Editions said. Proceeds will go to charity.
The English Roses is about a friendship shared by four girls and their mutual envy of a beautiful classmate, with illustrations by fashion artist Jeffrey Fulvimari. The inspiration for the five books - coming editions will focus on sharing, accepting mistakes and other themes - came from her study of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, she said.
"There is one life-giving force in the world," Madonna declared. "When we disconnect from this life-giving force, that's when we bring chaos and pain and suffering into our lives. Each of the stories have to do with different ways you disconnect from God."
Madonna also said she was profoundly influenced by the experience of raising two children, Lourdes, 6, and Rocco, 3. Lourdes, whom Madonna calls Lola, was a trusted adviser when it came to writing the book, the singer said.
Even if profit is not a motive, Madonna showed she still knows how to sell. In addition to a worldwide release, the book will be publicized in an hour-long Madonna appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show on Wednesday.
Nicholas Callaway, chairman and CEO of Callaway Arts and Entertainment, said the idea of Madonna as a writer of children's books came to him when he saw her read one to teens on MTV. He mentioned the idea several times to her - until one day last year he received five manuscripts in the mail. "As soon as I read them, it confirmed everything that I felt from that first moment," he said, adding that the stories as she has written them required very little editing.
The English Roses is the latest among a growing number of celebrity-written children's books. John Lithgow's new I'm a Manatee is the actor's fourth children's book for Simon & Schuster, and Julie Andrews is heading up her own imprint at HarperCollins. The next book in the series, Mr. Peabody's Apples, will be out in November.
Each tale is set in a different time and place and features new characters and different illustrators. Callaway Editions, based in New York, has licensed book rights to 32 publishing houses, including Gallimard Jeunesse in France and Hanser Verlag in Germany. Penguin Group is distributing the book in the United States, and Puffin will publish it in other English-language markets.
Today, Madonna was in Paris for the worldwide launch of her children's book "The English Roses," which is going on sale in 100 countries and more than 30 languages. She was scheduled to attend an early evening press conference and function at her French publishers, Gallimard.
A crowd of well-wishers gathered to see her leaving the Ritz hotel in the city center. On Saturday the singer -- whose only previous foray into publishing was a book of X-rated photographs of herself entitled "Sex" -- gave an invitations-only reading of the book at her exclusive London home before family and friends including Stella McCartney.
But she gave little away of the plot, saying: "If you want to know what else happens to Binah (the central character) and the English Roses, you're just going to have to read the book."
The firm which owns the rights to Enid Blyton's works is sending Madonna a consignment of books after the mega-star said she'd never heard of her. While launching her first children's book, The English Roses, Madonna was asked if she wanted to be the next Enid Blyton. The 45-year-old star looked blank and asked: "Who is that? Is she good?"
It was explained that Blyton was the author of children's favourites the Famous Five and Noddy tales, but this did not help the American. She added: "OK, I don't mind being compared to her, then."
Madge's book has been published simultaneously in dozens of languages around the world. Blyton has sold more than 400 million books worldwide and annual sales are still around seven million, 36 years after her death.
Madonna took her two children Rocco and Lourdes - and husband Guy Ritchie - to the launch bash, held yesterday at Kensington Roof Gardens in west London. The singer looked every inch the demure literary lady in a short-sleeved knee-length white dress with green and blue floral print and matching shoes.
She popped on reading glasses as she nestled on a wrought iron garden swing, flanked by her children, and began reading from the book. She told her audience of children: "I'm only going to read for as long as you can sit still." She added: "I like little kids better than big people. They don't have any bad habits yet - at least not permanent ones."
She then read from the book, which is the first of five stories to be published before the end of 2004. All are moral tales based loosely on the teachings of Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism which Madonna follows.
Blyton may be well known to generations of UK readers, but Tony Summerfield of the Enid Blyton Society said that her popularity is not matched in Madonna's native US. He said: "I'm not at all surprised that she has not heard of her. Madonna is American and Enid Blyton is virtually unknown in the USA.
"She had one or two books published over there in the 50s but she is just not known over there. "We have one or two Americans in the society but they are mostly ex-pats or people who spent time over here as children."
He added that Blyton has been widely translated and is eagerly devoured by German and Japanese children. He said however, that Blyton's popularity is waning: "Most authors say they read her as children but bookshops which used to stock her entire works now only sell a few series."
Callaway Arts & Entertainment, publisher of The English Roses, has announced the titles of the other 4 children's books by Madonna. "Mr Peabody's Apples" will be released in novembre 2003.
"Abdey's Adventures", "Lopsa de Casha" and "Jacob and the 7 Thieves" will follow between november 2003 and spring 2004.
Madonna cast aside her raunchy pop image Sunday to throw a tea party for the launch of her first children's book. The pop icon, who has had more style makeovers than David Bowie, played the demure 45-year-old mother of two to publicize "The English Roses," her first dip into the highly lucrative world of children's publishing.
About 100 children sat eagerly at her feet in a London roof garden as she read from her illustrated tale which, with Harry Potter-style hype, is being launched Monday in 30 languages and more than 100 countries.
Madonna, flanked by her son, Rocco, and her daughter, Lourdes, sat on a garden swing chair reading in her best bedtime story voice. Forget the steamy pop videos, conical bras and foul-mouthed outbursts.
Here was "Mamma-Donna," elegantly attired in a floral cream dress and sporting spectacles that would not have looked out of place on a prim schoolteacher's nose. Before launching into her brief reading, the icon who is hounded by paparazzi and tabloids around the world confessed to the children: "I like little kids better than big people because they don't have any bad habits yet."
"I think I am being upstaged by my children," she said as Rocco fidgeted in the seat beside her and Lourdes beamed with pride. Madonna got the biggest cheer from the children when she showed them one of the illustrations -- a picture of kids who were literally colored green with envy.
Madonna's latest album American Life was panned by some critics and her latest movie Swept Away, made by her film director husband Guy Ritchie, went straight to video in Britain after being slated in the United States. But she launched into her latest literary career with panache, answering questions from a string of showbusiness reporters who queued up to grill her.
Madonna was the first to hail her children as both her inspiration and harshest critics. She told Reuters TV: "I tried out all the stories on my children and whenever they got bored and started fidgeting, or complaining, or looking for other things to do, I knew I had to fix that part of the story or get rid of it."
She concluded with a poignant confession. Madonna, whose own mother died when she was five, said: "The only thing that I put in of myself is that Binah, the main character, is growing up without a mother. Her mother died when she was young so that was the similarity."
Madonna makes history again! The English Roses, her first book for children (even grown-up ones), will be simultaneously released in 30 languages and more than 100 countries on September 15, 2003.
Click here for a special message from Madonna about the book! Click the images on the right to see the book cover and a portrait of Madonna by Jeffrey Fulvimari, the illustrator of the book. Buy it at your favorite bookseller. Learn how to find true-blue friends. And a few red-hot dance moves, too!
Also check Madonna.com - which has been updated in full 'English Roses' style - for a Q&A with illustrator Jeffrey Fulvimari, a Q&A with Nicholas Callaway (Chairman of Callaway Arts & Entertainment), the storyline of the book and some explanation by Madonna herself.
It has fuelled Madonna's meteoric rise from pop singer to music icon and even provided her with the title of her first book. But when it comes to her daughter, the subject of sex is out of bounds.
Madonna - who just days ago French-kissed Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera in front of millions of viewers at the MTV video awards - has admitted she goes out of her way to ensure that Lourdes, seven, is not aware of her mother's sexually-charged alter-ego.
In her most revealing interview yet, the 45-year-old, famous for her risque videos, outlandish costumes and outspoken views, said: "I protect her from sex full stop. She's not aware of sexuality nor should she be. You know, we've had little conversations about where babies come from but sex is not, and shouldn't be, part of her repertoire right now."
Madonna added that he daughter would not see the raunchy images which shot her to fame in the early 1990s until she was much older. "I'd explain that's me putting on a show. I'm playing a character, it's not really me. I'm being an actress," she explained.
In a wide-ranging interview in The Times magazine yesterday, timed to coincide with the launch of her first children's book, Madonna also spoke of her insecurity as a child, about the impact of her mother's death when she was five and her husband Guy Ritchie's annoying habits.
Although Madonna admitted she had come a long way from the wild days ofher Sex book and Erotica single, she said she regretted nothing. "I'm not apologising in any shape or form [for those Sex years]," she said. "That's where my head was at the time. I was interested in pushing buttons and being rebellious and being mischievous and trying to bend the rules.
"There was a lot of irony in the Sex book and I am poking fun at a lot of things and I am being kind of silly and adolescent and I am being very f*** you, if a man can do it, I can do it."
However, she admitted that her crusade for sexual openness had not been as altruistic as it was portrayed at the time. "Was I really trying to liberate people? Or was I just being an exhibitionist and basking in the glory of being a diva and being able to do whatever I wanted? I think that probably was mostly what it was."
Madonna said she now had "an extremely different point of view about sex than I did then". She said it was her two children, Lourdes and Rocco, three, who have changed her life.
Madonna also revealed that swearing is banned in her house. The family even has a swear box. She confessed: "I have had to put a few quarters into that pot. My kids are like the swearing police."
The singer and actress also talked frankly about her desire for a third child, adding that she was seeing doctors to see if it was possible to have another baby. "Because of my exercising and this, that and the other, I've kind of screwed up my cycle a bit," she said. "And I'm going to the doctors to make sure I'm OK to have a baby, so wish me luck."
The 45-year-old, possibly the most famous woman in the world, said when she first came to prominence she mistook the attention she got for love and approval, but now knew better. "For me it meant a lot of things because I grew up without a mother," she said.
Madonna admitted she felt friendless and isolated at school after her mother died from cancer aged 30. She added that those insecurities had brought her to music and showbusiness. "I felt very awkward and out of place. Not popular, not attractive, not special in any way and I was longing for love and approval from someone."
She added: "This will sound shocking but I think I would have had more natural confidence if I'd had a mother." On a more down-to-earth level, the star admitted she was "bossy" and that she and Ritchie, the director of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, "take turns bossing each other around."
The couple live with their children at Ashcombe House in Wiltshire, although they also spend time in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. Describing Ritchie as "a slob", she said: "I do stand like a headmistress when my husband comes into the bathroom and dumps his clothes on the floor, and I stand there and go, 'Ahem'."
However, it appears that Ritchie is one of the few people who is not intimidated by Madonna. She said he called her "wife", "wiff", "Missus" and even "Mum", but hardly ever Madonna.
Her children's book, The English Roses, is based on the philosophy of the Kabbalah, an ancient Jewish text which Madonna has been studying for seven years. Each story is loosely based on a different Kabbalah morality tale, and the four young female characters in the books - Nicole, Amy, Charlotte and Grace - are named after Lourdes' English friends.
The inspiration for writing the books came from Madonna's contempt for classic children's fairytales, which she said contain no spiritual instruction or message. "You know, the women in Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty or Snow White are really passive," she said. "They just show up, they're beautiful, they get snapped up by the princes... and then they go off and live happily ever after. And I thought, 'Well what's a girl supposed to get out of this?'"
She added her daughter played a large part in the books, the first of which is about a gang of girls who ostracise her because they are jealous. She likened Lourdes to the character Binah, who is left out.
"In school often children can be quite mean and ostracise her because I'm her mother. Everyone thinks: 'She's got everything so we won't pay attention to her.' "She can think that people like her, that they only talk to her because she's... so sometimes I feel like she needs to be bigger than she is."
Madonna has managed for 20 years to stay one step ahead of the competition through a series of transformations. Her current incarnation, that of spiritually enlightened mother and wife, is just the latest of many.
Born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone in 1958, she moved from Michigan to New York in 1977 with dreams of becoming a ballet dancer. She studied dance, did some modelling and performed in pop and dance groups before signing a record deal in 1982.
Her first album, Madonna, came out in 1983, and since then she has had a string of hits and been a major influence in the music industry. But her parallel film career has been less than distinguished. Madonna's staying power has been attributed to a rare ability to create new trends.
Her initial image was of a truculent teenager, but that soon gave way to her sophisticated ‘Material Girl' period, which was quickly followed by the 'Sex' years, and now her more mature style. She also survived a period of notoriety in the early 1990s, after an unsuccessful marriage to the actor Sean Penn - the couple were at one time branded "the Poison Penns" - and over-exposure as a brash and very rude star.
That included saying f*** 13 times while being interviewed by the American talk-show host David Letterman. Recently, Madonna has declared herself a devotee of 21-year-old rival Britney Spears, and the pair kissed on stage at a recent Brit Awards ceremony. She runs her own record label, Maverick Records, which has signed artists such as Alanis Morissette and the Prodigy.
The latest unconfirmed news on Madonna is that she will do just one book signing to promote the English Roses in New York. This according to "Access Hollywood" who didn't give any more details.
Meanwhile the unconfirmed UK release date for Madonna's next single from American Life, Nothing Fails should be October 20.
Harry Potter taught kids around the world the joy of reading. Now Madonna is going global in the thriving kids' book business with a publishing first.
The pop superstar's first children's book - "The English Roses" - is being published simultaneously next Monday in more than 100 countries and 30 languages. State-of-the-art technology has sent language barriers tumbling so printing plants around the world can spring into action in every tongue from French to Faroese.
"This is a publishing first with regard to numbers of languages and territories," said Nicholas Callaway, President of the New York-based Callaway Editions, the originating publisher, who has co-ordinated the global release. "We have languages as varied as Chinese and Czech, Thai and Turkish, Hebrew and Hungarian," he told Reuters.
Internet advances have shrunk the globe. "This would not have been technically possible 18 months ago. We send so many digital files through the Internet," Callaway added. More than one million copies are hitting bookstores around the world next week, backed by a marketing blitz that takes Madonna from London to Paris and then on to the Oprah Winfrey talk show in the United States.
As the hype builds, Callaway is the first to pay tribute to JK Rowling, whose five wizard sagas have broken publishing records. "Everyone owes a great debt to Harry Potter for introducing a new generation worldwide to the magic of children's books," he said.
"Interest in children's books is on the rise and thankfully we are part of that trend." Critics may carp at the spotlight focusing on Madonna, a genius at both spotting and setting pop and fashion trends.
Helen Fraser, managing director of Penguin Books who will be publishing the book in Britain, concedes that cynics will grumble about hype as the 45-year-old mother of two bursts into print after years as a raunchy pop star. "Whenever somebody as famous as Madonna does something, cynics will use the "H" (Hype) word," she told Reuters.
In the now-standard children's blockbuster tradition, details of the plot have been kept strictly secret. But Fraser insists that the book - the first of five written by Madonna for kids - will "appeal to people from eight to 80 which is the ideal range for publishers." And she agreed that children's books were now the industry's big success story.
"It is suddenly an area that big companies are concentrating on. Now people realize it can be very exciting and that the very successful children's books are read by adults." A spokesman for the Nielsen BookScan research agency which monitors over 140,000 titles a week, said in Britain alone, the value of children's book sales has risen 40.5 percent in the first eight months of 2003 compared with last year.
Kids' books now make up 16 percent of the British market. That point was rammed home Tuesday when Bloomsbury Publishing, Potter's British publisher, reported a 14 percent rise in first-half profits. "This publishing phenomenon continues to grow in size and value," said Chairman Nigel Newton.
Madonna will appear on Oprah Winfrey's show Tuesday to promote her first children's book, 'The English Roses'. The episode was taped Monday. 'Roses' "was inspired by my daughter (Lourdes). She's almost 7, and she's basically my co-editor," Madonna, 45, tells Winfrey.
Madonna hits the stage, bumping and grinding with Oprah. And no, there's no Madonna-Oprah lip-lock. But the star does discuss her kiss with Britney Spears. Madonna is brought to tears on the show when the family of a girl who died of cancer comes on stage.
Madonna had befriended Canadian teen Kerri Yascheshyn through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She died in February at 17. Madonna's fifth-grade teacher also makes a surprise appearance.
Madonna is launching Roses with media events in London on Sunday and in Paris on Monday. Roses hits bookstores Monday in more than 100 countries and in 30 languages.
Oprah Winfrey gave Madonna an hour on her show, airing next Tuesday (16 September). The star was in Chicago to talk with Oprah about her coming children's book, 'The English Roses,' and its sequels. The gasping over M's MTV kiss with Britney Spears is just beginning to die down, but mercury is stable compared to Madonna's public image these days.
With Oprah she was charming, decorum itself, and at one point burst into sentimental tears when her influential fifth-grade teacher made a surprise appearance, along with the family of a cancer-stricken little girl whom Madonna had befriended. So which is the real Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone - the vixen of MTV or the well-spoken, emotional author of books for kids? Both. Nothing is ever black and white, especially not with Madonna.
Madonna taped the show in Chicago on Monday 08 September and flew back straight away to London. The taping of Madonna's show was delayed by two hours due to the previous taping with Beyonce Knowles over running! Madonna wore a gray wool suit, with fishnet stockings and knee-length black leather boots. She did not perform any songs on the show. Previews for the show were played during the Oprah Winfrey Show today in the USA.
The picture above shows Madonna and Oprah Winfrey grooving to 'Into The Hollywood Groove', which opened the show. The picture appeared in USA Today.
Madonna has been nominated alongside Avril Lavigne, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and Robbie Williams for a Latin American Video Music Award as Best International Pop Artist.
The ceremony will be held at the Jackie Gleason Theatre, Miami Beach, October 23th 2003. For more information on the awards visit www.mtvla.com.
Undeterred by the failure of Swept Away, Madonna is pushing for a new Oscar worthy film role, according to press reports. The Queen of Pop is apparently angling for a part in the forthcoming film about the West Memphis Three, three teenagers dubiously convicted for killing eight year olds.
When complete, the film is said to be a likely Oscar candidate, something that no doubt attracted the singer, who has previously only appeared in film flops. Apparently, Madonna's staff are currently lobbying directors to get her a supporting role in the production, although casting heads are reluctant to confirm if she is being considered.
Madonna is also interested in providing a soundtrack for the film, which she heard about backstage at the MTV awards last week. The West Memphis Three, supported by many Hollywood stars, including Winona Ryder, are still on death row after being convicted in 1993.
Here are some rumours as posted in today's Madonna Information Report:
"Nothing Fails will be released in the United States as a single; WB is pressing for the video to shoot sometime in the next couple of weeks. It is also being solicited for use in television commercials.
Look for two other songs to be used in commercials (The beginning of and the chorus of Love Profusion and the chorus of Mother and Father). Look for yet two others to be remixed and sent to clubs (I have no idea which two).
Surprisingly, I don't think WB has completely given up on the American Life project in the US yet. Maybe this is, in part, because no new tracks will be included with the box set barring potential remixes."
~ Nothing of this has been confirmed, except that Love Profusion will indeed be used in a commercial for Estée Lauder.
Rock star's first stab at children's literature is guaranteed a sell-out as 1,000 copies in Faroese are shipped into Atlantic islands They are so excited on the Faroe Islands that silver buckles on ceremonial cardigans are being vigorously polished. But it is not a bumper herring catch that has them worked up in the frigid north Atlantic - it is Madonna.
Fewer than 150 books a year are published in Faroese, the native tongue of this remote island chain that lies 200 miles north-west of Shetland. But come 15 September the inhabitants are to be blessed with their own version of The English Rose, Madonna's first stab at children's literature. That is cause for great celebration. The book is being launched simultaneously in more than 100 countries and the Faroese are simply delighted that they will be part of a global event.
Madonna is going head to head with David Beckham as the pair launch books within three days of each other this month. Around the world, bookshops are preparing to be swamped and publishers are relishing the prospect of huge sales.
While Beckham's autobiography, My Side, is due out on 13 September and is expected to fly off shelves in the Far East and Europe, Madonna has the Faroese market stitched up. She will host parties to celebrate the launch with 300 children in London. The next day in Paris children from several countries are expected to gather with the cultural icon.
Meanwhile, 1,000 copies of the Faroese translation will have arrived in Tórshavn, capital of the Faroes, after a three-day journey by road and sea from the printers in northern Italy. Traditional wool-knit cardigans worn only on special occasions will be on display as islanders march out of turf-roofed houses to greet the books' arrival.
The Faroes are officially still a protectorate of the Danish crown, but they are self-governing and the 47,000 inhabitants are fiercely patriotic. This national pride is rooted in their language, which is Nordic in origin but also contains traces of Gaelic - thanks to Irish monks who settled there more than 1,000 years ago.
In the past the islanders have relied on their plucky footballers for thrills. The squad of joiners, plumbers and fishermen have scored unlikely draws against Scotland and a win against Austria since being accepted to compete in international matches in 1988.
But soon the green mountainsides will be alive with the sound of Madonna being read in Faroese. 'It is an exciting time for us,' said Neil Thomsen of the local publisher Bokadeild Faroya. 'Our language is playing a role in a significant moment in publishing history.'
Thomsen sealed the translation deal at a book fair in Bologna and believes it will be popular in the islands. 'There are many fans of Madonna here, but it is also a great book, with fantastic illustrations and a great story. I'm sure the children will love it.' Despite the small print run, he is confident they will make a profit.
'We are co-producing this and the printing is done in Italy along with all the other European versions, so it is cost-effective.' It was a different story for a previous children's favourite his company turned out. 'We published the last Harry Potter book on our own and that ended up costing us money. But is was good to get it on sale in our own language.'
Also confident that the Madonna book will lift the late summer haze found in Tórshavn is the owner of the islands' main bookshop. Bokasolan is one of only six outlets that will stock the Faroese English Rose. 'There are just 100-150 books a year published in Faroese and most of them are academic texts or works on our language and culture.
So to be getting this is a real treat,' said Kari Arting from his shop. 'Everyone is keen to find out if she will be as good at writing children's books as she is at singing.' He also hopes that it will encourage the publication of more books in Faroese. 'It is good for the future of this language. Even if you include people living abroad there are less than 60,000 speakers.'
He is confident there will be life after Madonna for Faroese publishing. 'We do have books by a number of popular authors and our people are always keen to read. Madonna might be high-profile but we've had big stars' books before. Just a few months ago we were selling out of the latest work by Fay Weldon.'
Madonna's children's book is still such a secret even the folks selling it don't know what it's about. Amazon.com entertainment publicist Emily Glassman says the online retailer hasn't even seen the cover of Madonna's book, "The English Roses."
The high-profile illustrator for the book hasn't been revealed yet either, Glassman says. But that's not stopping people from putting in their orders. Glassman says the pre-orders for Madonna's book have skyrocketed, especially after Madonna put a 40-second message on Amazon.com talking about the book.
"The English Roses" is coming out Sept. 15 in more than 30 languages and more than 100 countries. Amazon.com customers were able to access the audio message starting Wednesday.
So, how did Britney Spears' parents react when the 21-year-old pop star locked lips with Madonna on the MTV Video Music Awards? "Well, my mom liked it actually. I was really kind of nervous! I was like, 'Oh my God, my mom ... she's going to see this!'"
Spears told Billy Bush in an interview on "Access Hollywood." Excerpts from Thursday night's show were released in advance. "But no, she liked it! And my dad, weirdly enough, he thought it was fine, too. I mean, come on... it's Madonna. If you can kiss any girl in the world, that has to be her."
Spears said she had butterflies before the smooch on the Aug. 28 awards show in New York City. "Oh I was very nervous and very shy," she said. "Like honestly, just being with Madonna, she has this presence about her. ... I mean I'm a shy person in general, but I got very intimidated and I was like, not myself. I was not the confident Britney, you know?
"And she just has this way about her, but at the same time it was very inspiring because it humbled me and it gave me something to look up to, you know?"
Spears said the kiss was Madonna's idea. "It was not my idea," Spears said. "No, but she threw it around a couple times in rehearsals ... she just kinda said, 'You know, do what you feel in the performance... just go with it and see how what happens'and that's kind of what happened."
Who's the better kisser? Madonna or actor Colin Farrell? "Oh my gosh!" Spears exclaimed. "They're both amazing kissers!"
Following her much-discussed MTV VMA performance, Madonna has once again rejoined the ranks of the most sought after celebrities on the Internet.
Ranked by Lycos and based on top music-related searches, Madonna was the third most popular musician for the week ending September 4, with only Britney Spears and Clay Aiken generating more requests.
Madonna was the only star to jump from outside the top ten this week, displacing the likes of Christina Aguilera, Hilary Duff, Jennifer Lopez, Eminem, 50 Cent, and Beyonce.
Seems the VMA also boosted album sales. Still according to Billboard: "Madonna's American Life, manages its first increase over prior-week sales since it bowed 19 weeks ago.
Mind you, the 16% gain for the week ended Aug. 31 isn't enough to bring the title back on the Billboard 200, but her VMA stunt breathed at least some life into her latest album."
I hear Hollywood is Madonna's 30th No. 1 dance/club hit. How does this total stack up against other dance music artists, and who has the most number ones on the various other Billboard charts?
Even though Hollywood hasn't appeared on Billboard's Hot 100 yet, this second single from Madonna's American Life album is indeed her 30th No. 1 on the magazine's Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. It was just three months ago that American Life became her 29th chart-topper, so the No. 1s are adding up fast for her on this chart.
If it weren't for the "Madonna Megamix" in 2002, Madonna would now have 10 No. 1 songs in a row on the Club Play chart. If you toss out that promo megamix, every song since Nothing Really Matters in March 1999 has reached that chart's summit.
Madonna needs 11 more No. 1s on this chart to beat Conway Twitty's record of 40 No. 1 songs on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.
On the Hot 100, the Beatles hold the record with 20 chart-toppers, ahead of Elvis Presley's 17. Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder are tied on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks tally with 20 No. 1s each.
On the Adult Contemporary chart, Elton John and the Carpenters are tied with 15 No. 1s each (that's not counting "That's What Friends Are For" by Dionne & Friends, as Elton wasn't billed by name).
In Chicago tomorrow, Krystal Massimino, 17, will tell Oprah Winfrey the bittersweet story of her best friend. I think there will be many wet eyes in that studio. Go back eight months. Windsor. Just after New Year's. Krystal calls Kerri Yascheshyn from her mom's car.
She has known Kerri since kindergarten. They have been inseparable since Grade 9. Kerri is dying of a rare liver cancer. Krystal is en route to the hospital to see her friend, as usual. "Guess who I talked to today?" says Kerri, from her bed. Krystal runs through the possibilities. No. Nope. No. "Okay, like, who?" "Madonna," says Kerri. She sounds over the moon.
"She always just adored Madonna," Krystal tells me down the line from Windsor yesterday. She is getting ready for Chicago. "She had all her CDs, went to see her concert in Detroit and even saw Swept Away."
So Kerri's older sister Jennifer calls the Make-A-Wish Foundation. And, suddenly, Madonna is calling. Krystal hears hope in her friend's voice for the first time since this nightmare started. Madonna calls not just once, which is all the Wish Foundation asks.
But every day, as the pretty teen with the long blonde hair, blue eyes and pale skin fights her hopeless fight. Every day for the month before she dies. Sometimes it's on a cell from a video shoot. "Hi, Kerri, I'm real busy, but I just wanted you to know I was thinking about you." Sometimes Kerri can't talk. The pain. The painkillers. Sometimes they talk about how Madonna was five when cancer took her mom.
Sometimes they talk about things spiritual, about books, about music. Like A Prayer is Kerri's favourite song. She does ballet, dances in community theatre. Madonna has danced a step or two. So they talk about that. Not pop goddess to dying girl. Friend to friend. "Madonna once said to her, 'I really feel we have a connection,'" says Krystal.
"She felt something for her, just like everyone who knew Kerri." It happens so damn fast. In November, she has stomach pains, by February she's on the way out. Madonna sends a package. A case of "healing water" and the enchanting animated film Spirited Away. "They just seemed to click," says Kerri's mom, Gail. "It showed a side of Madonna that people don't know."
On Feb. 8, a Saturday, Madonna calls as usual. Only Madonna knows what is said. Kerri dies the next day. She is all of 17. The singer calls Gail. "It's kind of a mother-to-mother thing," says Gail, when I ask what was said. "It's between Madonna and me."
She asks Madonna to choose a song for Kerri's funeral at the church where she taught Sunday school. The singer thinks awhile. She suggests Nothing Fails from her American Life CD. It is still pre-release, but she sends a rep with a copy. The mourners are the first anywhere to hear it. You could take all this, take it away. I'd still have it all. 'Cause I've climbed the tree of life. And that is why, no longer scared if I fall.
This is the story that Krystal and Gail and Kerri's sister Lisa, 23, will tell tomorrow morning in Chicago. "Now, when a Madonna song comes on, I can't help smiling," says Krystal. "Just like Kerri always made me smile." "I know she's up there, telling corny jokes and fussing with her hair and makeup 'til everything is perfect."
Krystal never talked to Madonna. Kerri offered, but it didn't seem right. "I don't think Madonna really knew how much she did for my friend. And I never got a chance to thank her. That's why I wrote to the Oprah show." They asked her what she would tell Madonna, given the chance.
"You stood by her side every second of every day, just like angels always do," Krystal wrote. A couple of weeks ago, the invite came. Krystal, Gail and Lisa will tape the show, expected to air on Tuesday, Sept. 16. They don't know if Madonna will take part. Doesn't matter, really. She already has. In fact, it's the best part the Material Girl ever played.
Feast yer mince pies on this - Madonna could be the newest boat race in EastEnders if Guy Ritchie has his way. Film director hubby Guy, 34, has contacted bosses, touting the queen of pop for a part in the soap. Producers hope the chance to work with her heroine DOT will seal the deal.
Last night an insider said: "We know Madonna is a massive fan and Guy wants her to do a cameo. "Her favourite is Dot - she'd work very well with her in the launderette." Madge, 45, has famously become an honorary Brit since marrying mockney Lock, Stock director Guy and moving to England. She hunts, sports flat caps and tweed, drinks bitter, and talks about her raspberries (ripples - nipples).
After her last film Swept Away bombed, a role in the No1 soap alongside Den could be tempting. Superstar Robbie Williams, 29, is the only other celeb to blag a guest spot. He was seen nattering on the Queen Vic payphone in 1995 after visiting pal Danniella Westbrook on the set. But Madonna has competition.
Last week Lara Croft stunner Angelina Jolie, 28, said: "Get me a part in EastEnders. "It may not be as glam as Hollywood but I'd love to be part of it." George Michael, 40, is also after a cameo, while Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt are fans, too.
An EastEnders spokesman said: "We're delighted Madonna's a fan. Alfie Moon would love to serve her a pint of bitter in the Queen Vic but Kat wouldn't be too pleased."
"The cast currently includes: Laurence Fishburne (as the Alchemist), Jeremy Irons, and Madonna. Written by Laurence Fishburne, Paulo Coelho (book). Directed by Laurence Fishburne.
Distributed by Warner Bros. Filming will start later in this year. The Alchemist is about a boy who has dreams of a treasure. It leads him on a journey from his home in Spain and to Egypt. He meets the Alchemist who can turn lead into gold. It is story about following your dreams.
As she closed her headline-grabbing performance at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York last week, Madonna rallied co-stars Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott in something of a battle cry. "Music stations always play the same song!" she yelled defiantly. "We're bored with the concept of right and wrong."
These are indeed tough times for the sagging music business -- and even for its icons -- but Madonna appears stoked for a fight. Slashed promo budgets, retail erosion, online music sharing and narrowing radio playlists are nothing she won't attempt to conquer with a quick rewrite of the pop marketing handbook. She's everywhere at the moment via some quite unexpected alliances -- and that's precisely the point.
Since mid-summer, Madonna has been the centerpiece of Gap's high-stakes back-to-school commercials. Her new song, Love Profusion, frames an elegant fall campaign for cosmetics giant Estee Lauder that bows in movie theaters this month before moving to television. And her children's book, "The English Roses," debuts Sept. 15 amid a huge promotion in more than 500 Gap Kids stores as well as bookstores, Amazon.com and other outlets.
Gap, Estee Lauder, kids books, lip-locking with nubile pop starlets on MTV and dancing alongside hip-hop goddess Elliott (also her Gap co-star) doesn't just keep fans guessing. It means Madonna covers just about every major demographic -- all while giving herself a career-enhancing makeover and earning millions for it.
Those sunny Gap commercials - during which she and Elliott playfully one-up each other then bump "M"-initialed back pockets -- have pretty much erased all memory of the militaristic image she inhabited just a few months ago while launching her latest album, the so-so-selling American Life.
"It's a huge contrast," says Jordan Kaplan, professor of marketing and managerial science at Long Island University in Brooklyn, N.Y. "She misread the times, and now she's using the Gap to reintroduce herself. It's a no-cost, no-lose strategy." But the TV ads are just the start. Once inside the store, consumers can't miss the special promo CD, "Get Into the Hollywood Groove," the music heard in the commercial.
The Elliott-mixed track melds the recent Madonna single Hollywood and a rerecorded version of her 1985 classic Into the Groove. The disc also includes a special stand-alone version of the "Hollywood" single, but it isn't for sale anywhere. Rather, it's a giveaway, handed to everyone who buys a pair of corduroys.
"The music business has been a certain way for many years, and it's changing rapidly," says Caresse Henry, a partner in Caliente Entertainment and Madonna's manager. "Everyone is trying to figure out, how do we restructure 35 years of doing business? It's a process, but I do believe many (of us) have realized it's time for a change. The traditional music video and promo that you do behind an album is just not enough."
Whether it's CDs hidden in drink lids at the movies, songs sent to mobile phones or posters in cereal boxes, it's been anything goes for a while now. What still continues to work well, Henry says, is "the unexpected - something we always like to do with Madonna."
With 20 years of superstardom behind her, Madonna, 45, hasn't plugged a product in the United States since her 1989 Like a Prayer deal with Pepsi, which ended abruptly when the song was deemed anti-church. Her move back into this world wasn't made lightly. Trey Laird, whose New York agency Laird + Partners created the Gap campaign, says timing, circumstances and "fit" are what count most when big stars enter into endorsements.
"Too often, an agency or a brand picks someone for not a good enough reason," says Laird, whose agency also handles the Donna Karan brand. "There's nothing worse than totally transforming someone into a spokesmodel holding up a can. It never feels true.
"We wanted this to have an edge -- an edge that was right for the brand and right for Madonna and Missy," Laird says. "And we really wanted them to be themselves. Gap is about simple clothing that you make your own. There aren't too many companies that, when they're developing a big campaign, will allow (a celebrity's) personal style to come through."
Although sales of American Life, which debuted in the spring at No. 1 but slid off the charts last month after just 14 weeks, have not sparked since the Gap commercials began July 30, Madonna's MTV stunt might change that. But Kaplan, the marketing expert, says her current activities aren't "about the album." "It's about her," Kaplan says.
"I wouldn't say she's reinventing herself, but she is making a very skilled transition. She's going up and down the age chain. The girls who followed her in their teens are now mothers shopping at Gap Kids. It's very shrewd. It's good for the Gap, and it's good for Madonna." Although the campaign is too recent for hard sales numbers, retail analysts confirm Gap reports of high traffic in stores last month.
After years of slowing sales, the chain has been on an upswing all year, reporting a 13% increase in sales from last year. Without commenting on Madonna's MTV performance, the company said it remains pleased with the ads. The promo partnership also has suited Elliott, whose recent image revamp has broadened her appeal beyond the hip-hop market.
Elliott's manager, Mona Scott, says the affiliation with Gap, Madonna and Madonna's music in the studio has brought her client new fans. "It all puts you out there in a much bigger, broader way than would be possible just relying on the label budgets," says Scott, a partner in New York-based Violator Management. "And it's one of the few additional income streams artists have. It's just a very interesting time."
Dave Navarro performed at last week's MTV Video Music Awards with Christina Aguilera and was there in person to witness Madonna's smooches with Aguilera and Britney Spears. Although he has worked with his fair share of hot female pop stars, he is currently eyeing his next gal.
"At this point I'd like to do a collaboration with Madonna," Navarro said. "I think that would be exciting. So far I've been able to collaborate with Christina Aguilera and Michelle Branch and Mariah Carey. I think Madonna's, you know, next on my list. And Madonna actually looks younger than Britney and Christina. It's amazing."
A gum-smacking Britney Spears told CNN Wednesday that she has never before kissed a woman and never would again -- unless the woman is Madonna.
The pop star exchanged a prolonged, open-mouth kiss with the Material Girl during MTV's Music Video Awards show last week. "I didn't know it was going to be that long and everything," said Spears.
She said the singers had played around during rehearsal and Madonna had told her they would "just feel it out and see what happens" during the performance. "I've never kissed a woman before," Spears said demurely.
When asked if she would "do it again," she squealed, "No, I would not do it," but then added, "Maybe with Madonna."
When asked about how her image has changed from when she was a squeaky clean Mouseketeers, Spears said, "I think I'm still clean living. I mean I don't go home and have orgies or anything like that."
The singer said she is just "performing and expressing myself." She also believes that by fulfilling her own dreams and having fun doing it, she is inspiring her fans.
Madonna has concluded a long-awaited publishing venture with her book, The English Roses, aimed at six to eight year olds. It's to be sold in American-owned Gap stores under an exclusive deal.
The Material Girl, who is said to have worked closely with her publishers Penguin, will have the satisfaction of seeing her tome on sale among the socks at Gap Kids outlets. It may be a precedent but it's not going to be a trend, I'm told.
A spokesman for Gap, for which Madonna is currently fronting an advertising campaign, says the deal applies only to the first of her five-book series. "We have no plans to stock any more books at all after this one," they tell me. "We don't intend to become a bookstore."
Listen up, Madonna fans. With her first children's book about to be published, the singer has recorded a special audio message for shoppers on Amazon.com. "Have you ever heard of the English Roses?" she says, referring to the book's title.
"Here is what they are not: A box of chocolates. A football team. Flowers growing in the garden. "The English Roses is the first of five stories I have written. It deals with the subject of envy and jealousy and how these emotions cause so much unnecessary suffering in our lives."
Her book is coming out on September 15 in more than 30 languages and more than 100 countries. Amazon.com customers can access the audio message starting on Wednesday.
Madonna, 45, has two children: daughter Lourdes - from the singer's relationship with ex-boyfriend Carlos Leon - and son Rocco, from her husband, film director Guy Ritchie.
Hear the audio message in Real Audio - Pre-order The English Roses
It's the peck that left Justin stunned and the crowd screaming. Now, Madonna and Britney's lip lock at the MTV Video Music Awards is Us Weekly's cover story. Ken Baker, Us Weeklys west coast executive editor, tells "Extra" this mouth to mouth is resuscitating debate on just who is Hollywood's hottest pair.
Baker says, "They have been long-time admirers and, in the weeks leading up to the VMAs, they became very close friends." Madonna has proudly worn her support of Spears in the past, often spotted sporting a Britney Spears t-shirt. The material girl even gave Britney a $15,000 diamond "B" necklace before the VMAs. Madonna has a matching "M" necklace.
Baker says, "I think she feels very maternal toward Britney, almost like she's passing the torch." "Extra" spotted Britney Tuesday morning leaving Madonna's hometown of London with a new souvenir - a mysterious bandage on her right foot.
Us Weekly also reveals that Jennifer Lopez was asked to perform in Madonna and Britney's kiss off, but Jennifer blocked the idea because she didn't want to wear a wedding dress so close to her actual wedding date with Ben Affleck.
Madonna is a "great kisser", according to sexy pop princess Christina Aguilera. Christina and fellow pin-up Britney Spears both enjoyed an outrageous on-stage snog with Madonna at last week's MTV Video Awards.
The raunchy lesbian routine won a standing ovation from the celebrity-packed awards ceremony, which included Madonna's film director husband, Guy Ritchie. Christina was equally impressed. "Everyone wants to know about that damn kiss," Christina said. "She's got a very soft lip - and she's a very lovely kisser. "I've kissed her numerous times - because at every rehearsal she wanted to do it right on every time."
However, Christina revealed that Britney had to be persuaded to take part in the saucy snogging. "Britney was a little shy at first. Madonna kept having to go 'Britney, kiss me, kiss me!'" she said. Britney's ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake appeared less happy with the on-stage kissing, refusing to comment.
A US daily newspaper has apologised to its readers for using a picture of Britney Spears kissing Madonna open-mouthed on its front page. The picture, not much bigger than a postage stamp, was near the top of Friday's edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It showed Spears and Madonna kissing at the MTV Video Music Awards.
The sloppy kiss picture resulted in many complaints by readers. In Monday's editions, managing editor Hank Klibanoff apologised, saying the picture should have been inside but not on the front page. Mr Klibanoff compared the Spears picture to graphic images from the war in Iraq.
He said: "We ran images we otherwise might not have run. But that was war, and war was news. The photo we ran Friday was neither, and I wish I had limited its display to the inside of the Living section."
~ Just chill Atlanta, it's only a kiss ;-)↑ Back to top of page