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Madonna denies marital paradise has some thorns

Could Madonna’s marriage be in trouble? Total denials on that front from her people, but sources close to the Material Mom hint that the superstar’s obsession with the mystical Jewish teachings of Kabbalah are carving a chasm between Madonna and her husband, director Guy Ritchie.
”Guy really is not into Kabbalah at all and he’s increasingly concerned at how it’s taking over Madonna’s life,” a longtime British filmmaking pal of Ritchie’s told this column Monday. ”This is really a weird sect, and he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it,” said the Ritchie friend and colleague.
At this point, it’s unclear whether the director of such edgy films as ”Snatch” and “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” will even join his wife in Israel for special Kabbalah celebrations later this week — tied to the upcoming Jewish holidays.
A spokeswoman for Madonna played down rumors of any marital rift. ”There are no problems. There is no rift, as you call it. Everything is absolutely fine between Madonna and Guy.”
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Madonna wraps up tour in Portugal

Madonna’s three-month world tour ends on Tuesday with her final concert in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.
Tickets for two gigs on 13 and 14 September sold out within hours but problems arose after the venue was double-booked by a church convention.
The matter was resolved and two dates were confirmed at the 12,000 seater Atlantic Pavillion.
Hundreds of Spanish fans were expected to attend the gigs after the pop star left Spain off her tour plan.
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How to succed like a rock star

A special gathering to get Barrow’s young people interested in running businesses will be told that entrepreneurs are like rock stars.
Emma Jones of Manchester business consultants Redbrick, which is masterminding the Local Heroes event with Furness Enterprise, said: “Rock stars like Madonna and Franz Ferdinand also possess those qualities necessary for enormous success: talent, initiative and determination. Entrepreneurs then are not unlike rock stars.”
“They require the same attributes in order to succeed in the business world and often enjoy the same rewards goodles of money and varying degrees of fame, and all without intrusive tabloid press and early graves.”
On Wednesday October 20 some of the brightest stars of Barrow business will share their start-up stories and tips with Barrow’s hopeful young entrepreneurs.
Furness Enterprise is hiring the entire Barrow Superbowl for two hours. The speakers will be joined by live musicians, fashion designers and film producers.
Young people aged between 14 and 25 are invited to attend.
If you have ever dreamt of being a millionaire wake up, log on to and register for your ticket.
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Interview with Chris Lamb

Chris Lamb, the Tour Director for the eagerly-awaited Madonna: The Re-Invention Tour, has worked for the superstar for nearly twenty years, virtually since she burst onto the worldwide scene with Holiday. He believes that the current show is “probably her best ever. It’s a genuinely amazing show.”
Chris, who also works with Rod Stewart, The Eagles and Roger Waters on their tours, remembers that he began working on this with Madonna, her manager and tour director, Jamie King back in January.
“Madonna herself and the tour director come up with the concept and the ideas. My job is to figure out how to do it! We’re doing things that people have never done before with this show.
“It’s a show,” he emphasises, “people aren’t coming here to a rock concert. This is more like a theatre show, with different acts to it. You don’t even have to be a Madonna fan to enjoy this show.
“There’s a whole world happening, with hundreds of elements,” he says of the over two-hour performance, in which the world’s biggest-selling female solo artist ever will be performing over twenty of her greatest hits, including Vogue, Into The Groove, Holiday, Like A Prayer, Material Girl, Music, Express Yourself and Papa Don’t Preach.
It’s so fantastically eleborate that Chris and his crew began setting up on Wednesday for the shows. Nonetheless, despite the fact that almost all of the show’s staging, including state-of-the-art video technology, has been custom-built at a cost which, Chris hints, runs into the millions, it will never be seen again after the last European date in Lisbon on September 14.
“Madonna’s probably the most tirelessly inventive person I’ve ever known, and she has absolutely no interest in repeating herself. I suspect you might be seeing some parts of our show in other people’s shows for a while, though,” chuckles Chris, who has worked in the rock world for more than thirty years, since starting out with Leon Russell “back in the days when things were really wild.”
The show, which now involves 110 people travelling on the road including 12 dancers, 5 musicians, 2 backing singers, a bagpipe player, a skateboarder, and Cirque du Soleil swingers, was rehearsed for six weeks solidly before the public was allowed to see it.
The stage itself, weighing 40 tons on its own, can revolve in all sorts of directions (at up to sixteen miles an hour, which would surely test the balance of the most skilled dancers!) and there are all manner of high-tech contraptions which can raise – or even spring! – performers into the air.
“Madonna is on stage the whole time, this is not one of those shows where the performer vanishes all the time to change their costume. If you can’t actually see her, she’s quick-changing for a different scene,” he discloses.
“It’s a very artistic show. If you asked me to pick a favourite of all her tours, and I’ve worked on pretty much all of them, I’d say this one for sure. The other show which I personally thought was the only one which came close to this one is the Blonde Ambition tour.
“People keep saying that she’s re-inventing herself, but she also re-invents the show. She shows people things they’ve never seen before and it’s been that way over the years, that’s why people are fascinated and excited by what she does. Every one of her shows really has been a kind of reflection of her, it’s pretty much where she is in her life.”
But can she keep on topping the last tour, as she apparently does with this show, certainly if the preparations I saw are anything to go by?
“I don’t know,” Chris admits. “She’s so creative and she’s such a perfectionist that she always comes up with something fresh and different.
“When she’s on that stage, even though there’s a hundred things happening, she’ll know just what a dancer has been doing, which is amazing.
“She’s a hard-working lady who has astounding powers of concentration and puts herself heart and soul into whatever she’s doing.”
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Madonna estate ‘open to Quakers’

Ramblers may not be welcome on parts of pop star Madonna’s GBP9 million estate, but a group of Quakers say they are.
A Quaker burial ground, visited by local members for centuries, lies amid the 1,132-acre Ashcombe Estate, on the Wiltshire/Dorset border.
Madonna partly won a challenge to rules allowing ramblers on to her estate, but the Quakers say she has not tried to block them.
Quaker Audrey Acton said: “We have had no obstruction from Madonna.”
The 60-strong Shaftesbury Preparative Meeting scatters ashes of the dead, during funerals, at the historic site.
Safe place
It also stages a pilgrimage and worship gathering there every 10 years.
The next one is scheduled for 2010.
In 2000, there were around 200 Quakers, many of whom had come from other meetings in the area.
Madonna is said to be “OK with that”, according to a member of the group.
The burial site on the land, which belongs to Madonna and her film director husband Guy Ritchie, was established in 1663 when the then-owner of the estate, William Fry, became a Quaker.
At the time, Quakers were being persecuted and had no other safe place to lay their dead to rest.
Ms Acton, a member of the Quaker group in Shaftesbury, said: “We are not interested in Madonna’s estate as such, we are only interested in the burial ground.”
In June, the Ritchies won their bid to prevent ramblers from walking across most of their estate.
They claimed at a public inquiry in May that their human rights would be infringed.
The Planning Inspectorate ruling means walkers are not able to go within sight of the couple’s home, sitting in the estate’s grounds.
A spokesman for the pop star said he was unable to comment on any land issues.
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Pub party for Madonna’s Guy

Madonna has thrown a birthday bash for her husband Guy Ritchie – in the back room of their local boozer.
The Material Girl is reported to paid just £30 to hire the function room at the Punch Bowl pub in Mayfair, London for £20 of film-maker Ritchie’s closest pals.
The couple were spotted drinking ale all night and singing along to a two-piece Irish band.
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Interview with Make McKnight

This year’s Mega Summer Tour season is in full swing, and Madonna is on the road again to promote her most recent album release, “American Life”. Like many top artists, Madonna mixes studio-produced tracks to support her highly choreographed live performances and the musicians on stage.
Mike McKnight produces those tracks, and makes sure they sound great at every show. In fact, Mike has programmed every major Madonna tour using a MOTU system driven by Digital Performer. We recently caught up with him during Madonna’s Re-Invention tour, in an interview directly beneath the stage, to get the latest details about his setup.
What was your hardware setup for the Madonna tour?
I have two MOTU 1296 audio interfaces, and four MOTU HD192 interfaces for the three computer systems that run the show. I also use two 828mkII interfaces as mixers for my live synths. I use one and keep one as a spare. They’re connected to a G4 laptop for virtual synths with Digital Performer as the host.
I also have a MIDI Timepiece AV for my G4 rig and micro express MIDI interfaces for each of my G5s. All MIDI then gets routed through another MIDI Timepiece AV so that I can switch between rigs if needed. I have a custom made 72 in/24 out switcher to switch between the audio for the three computers.
How does your rig interface with the rest of the tour infrastructure? Is that a timecode master display above the rack of HD192’s?
I record time code to an audio track from my MIDI Timepiece AV. Then I send that audio track through a Brainstorm Distripilyzer (a time code reshaper and distribution amplifier) to video and lights.
Why have you chosen MOTU gear instead of other solutions for the high-pressure live-performance tours you do every year?
I use MOTU gear because it’s solid, reliable and sounds great. The MOTU stuff is still my first choice on tour.
Why do you insist on using Digital Performer?
I am very secure with the stability of DP. I can’t have a crash or even a hiccup ever, so I won’t change from DP, period.
You are a talented keyboard player in your own right, and you have your own keyboard rig beneath the stage. Do you play during the show?
I play when needed, not as much as on some tours, but enough to keep me busy.
This show, similar to Madonna’s last tour, is heavily choreographed and includes continuous video. Did you have to cut audio to picture, or did they cut video to audio, or was it a bit of both, depending on the song?
Video is always cut to audio. I’d give them a CD with time code on the right and a rough mix on the left. It worked great!
What happens when you start the show?
I send timecode to lights and video, and once we start it runs for 45 minutes straight, non-stop. Then there are about seven or eight individual songs, then finally another stretch of 30 minutes or so to close the show.
I see Digital Performer on the screen there. Is that your show file?
Yes, let me show you. As you can see, there are tons of tracks. In addition to the backing tracks, I’ve got everybody’s part for the entire set. In case somebody in the band gets sick, I can just fly in their part. This file is now very consolidated. For a while, the show was just enormous. All the stuff I had to have in here, I had to keep paring it down.
Even consolidated, it looks like you have at least 100 tracks in there.
Actually, I have plenty more than that. Let’s take a look. Here, I’ll select all and copy, and the clipboard tells me how many tracks. (Mike copies the tracks.) 250 tracks in this sequence. It works great!
Wow. And this is running on what?
This is a Power Mac G4 running at 466 MHz, equipped with the MOTU PCI interfaces, and this file runs for 45 minutes straight. I let it run free with no sync because I’m the time code master for the show. I could probably get better sync between my main system and my backup systems if I used the MIDI Timpiece AV as a word clock master, but this system works. And it allows me to have three rigs: the main system and two backups, all running side by side, independently. They have to be completely independent. I can’t have one thing in the chain, such as a clock master, bringing the whole thing crashing down.
It also gives me the flexibility I need. For example, Madonna will sometimes forget that whole show is on a strict timecode time line. She’ll get excited and start talking to the crowd, and she won’t come in singing when we’re all expecting. When that happens, I instantly switch to my B system, get the A system back on track, and then switch back to the A system, while on my headset telling the video and lighting guys, “Hey guys, time code is jumping back four bars, get ready!” When Madonna decides to add four bars to the intro, then we add four bars to the intro. That’s just the way it has to be with a superstar. And this system gives me the flexibility to do these things on the fly, while at the same time feeding time code to the entire rest of the show.
In looking at your set list, there are notes about cueing and so forth. What cueing features are you using in DP and how does that work?
Within the seven or eight separate songs, I have to turn auto cue on for a couple songs because I’m playing a lot and need to have DP switch to the next songs and start playing immediately. In rehearsals we chose to keep these songs separate, but during the show there is a predefined amount of space between songs that can vary a bit from show to show.
Do you have one master DP file for the entire show or several different files?
After extensive editing in rehearsals of each song in separate files, I combine them into one big file for the last couple weeks of band rehearsals and production rehearsals. I need to be able to quickly and seamlessly go between songs, and make whatever edits immediately. Madonna is really good to work for, but she demands results, so I have to work quickly.
And you put on a great show, too, Mike. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.
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Orthodox Jews offended by Madonna’s Kabbalah ties

HAMISH ROBERTSON: The singer Madonna is due in Israel later this week, not as part of her performance tour, but to join thousands of practitioners of the Orthodox Jewish mysticism known as Kabbalah.
The gathering has been organised by a Los Angeles based centre popularised by Rabbi Philip Berg.
Kabbalah has attracted a string of high profile stars, many of whom wear a signature piece of red string around their wrist.
But as Middle East Correspondent Jane Hutcheon reports, many Orthodox Jewish rabbis are offended by Madonna’s ties to the faith.
(sound of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”)
JANE HUTCHEON: Since the chameleon-like performer burst on to the world stage in the ’80s, she’s published a book about sex, been photographed nude and sworn on TV talk shows.
Earlier this year, she kissed pop idol Britney Spears on the mouth in front of millions of viewers at an awards night.
But if you ask artist David Friedman, who’s practiced Kabbalah for 25 years, Madonna’s past behaviour doesn’t stop her from observing this now-fashionable Jewish faith.
DAVID FRIEDMAN: I’m very open-minded. And I think somebody who lives in Hollywood, who’s in a very, she was the material girl, to discover that there is also a spiritual realm, the body is the entirety of the human being, I think that’s encouraging.
JANE HUTCHEON: There isn’t actually anything new age about Kabbalah. Translated from Hebrew, it means “reception” and is thousands of years old. Practitioners study a text called the Zohar, which delves into the innermost soul of a Jew.
In a sign of affection for the faith, Madonna adopted a Hebrew name “Esther” but she was born a Catholic, and many Orthodox Jews believe a Goy “or non-Jew” has no place studying Kabbalah.
Rabbi Yzchak Bazri.
(Sound of Yzchak Bazri speaking)
“It’s forbidden for a Goy to learn Kabbalah. He has to learn and known the Jewish bible first. Kabbalah is the highest form of Judaism, and those who practice it need to be extremely spiritual, modest and wise, surrounding themselves with holiness and purity.
(sound of Madonna’s “Material Girl”)
In the eyes of Rabbi Bazri, whose father was one of Jerusalem’s most renowned Kabbalists, the material girl can’t be in the club. But the real Kabbalah appears to have little to do with the new age phenomenon packaged and sold, often at a hefty price, by the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre.
A piece of red string, tied around the wrist to get rid of the evil eye retails for nearly $50, and other inspirational products command similarly exorbitant price tags. But Kabbalist and artist David Friedman says the spirit of Kabbalah is there for everyone, including Esther, AKA Madonna.
DAVID FRIEDMAN: If you believe in something, even if it’s a sugar pill, but if you believe it’s something that’s going to cure your illness, the power of faith is also something not to take lightly.
JANE HUTCHEON: Fresh from her latest tour, entitled “Reinvention”, Madonna’s presence in Israel is likely to cause more than a stir. Rabbi Bazri has some advice for her.
(sound of Yzchak Bazri speaking)
“I don’t think her school knows about Kabbalah. But if she comes here she’ll find pure, honest people. They will not accept her with her clothes, she must come with different ones.”
The mother of two is said to be funding Kabbalah schools in New York and London, and though her low-key visit is likely to raise a few eyebrows, perhaps the purists realise that new age fads are just part of life.
(sound of Madonna’s “American Life”)
This is a modestly-dressed Jane Hutcheon in Jerusalem, for Correspondents Report.
HAMISH ROBERTSON: The latest enthusiasm of the sometimes not-so-modestly dressed Madonna.
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Stories from a kabbala mama

Madonna’s latest children’s book, Yakov and the Seven Thieves, does not purport to be Jewish. Sure, it has the earmarks of a Jewish children’s tale “inspired by the Baal Shem Tov,” and takes place in 18th-century Ukraine, with the main character going by the name Yakov.
But this tale is universal in nature, and its illustrations (which resemble a Christmas wonderland more than a stark Ukrainian shtetl) are indicative enough of this fact. The Baal Shem Tov was probably unfamiliar with the Ukraine as rendered by illustrator Gennady Spirin, who was born on Christmas in a small city near Moscow, as his bio explains.
The opening pages most starkly depict the schizophrenic nature of the book: on one side a yoga-esque, Kabbala-inspired illustration, on the other an elaborate cover page which evokes the traditional Christmas spirit. Regardless of the blurry line between these two traditions, Madonna has produced a beautifully illustrated book with a message of morality and potential for redemption that any parent would be comfortable espousing.
In the story, a cobbler named Yakov prays that his son Mikhail will recover from a mysterious illness. His wife Olga urges him to seek the advice of a wise old man who people say “speaks to angels… [and] can perform miracles.” When Yakov arrives, the elderly man he meets looks not unlike famous renderings of Moses. The sage scratches his beard and, after one failed attempt, recruits his grandson to gather all the thieves of the village to pray for the sick child. They comply, on their knees in pew-like prayer, and Mikhail miraculously recovers.
The moral of the story?
“Thieves represent the things in us that are bad or wrong or selfish… when we turn away from our naughty behavior and embrace good deeds… we are turning the key and unlocking the gates of heaven.”
But have the thieves been genuinely altered by this brush with benevolence? One must read the book to find out.
If there is a kabbalistic message in this tale, it is of the absurdly watered down variety that has become so trendy among American celebrities. Whatever the kabbalistic infusion, and whatever the author’s scandalous reputation, however, Yakov and the Seven Thieves is a quality children’s book that will transport both parent and child to another place and time and, in few short pages, delight.
For Israeli consumers, Kinneret is publishing an Israeli edition of this title in Hebrew, along with all of Madonna’s books.
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CBS Madonna concert doesn’t materialize

Madonna got out of the groove with CBS, where plans for a concert featuring the Material Girl have been scrapped. Eye, which announced the special at its upfront presentation in New York last May, had planned to air a Madonna concert from her current “Reinvention” tour…
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Madonna Enters The UK Music Hall Of Fame

The Beatles are the only British act to feature in the UK Music Hall Of Fame.
The hall, which will be focus of a channel 4 programme scheduled for autumn, features acts such as Elvis Presley, Madonna, U2 and Bob Marley.
The programme will present artists chosen by a panel and voted for by the public who have made the utmost contribution to “UK music culture”.
The panel included Sir George Martin, Trevor Nelson, Paul Gambaccini, Blur bassist Alex James, former Eurythmic Dave Stewart, Manchester legend Tony Wilson and Glastonbury festival organiser Emily Eavis.
Gambaccini said the list would obviously be a talking point and for some a bone of contention.
“There will be one or two names conspicuous by their absence, but that’s the nature of the beast,” he said. Adding that the UK was one of the few countries to “punch above its weight” in the music industry.
Malcolm Gerrie, head of production company Initial, told BBC News Online: “It’s to do with fantastic music that will be there forever and the impact and resonance they’ve had.”
The programme will take the form of five two hour shows on Channel 4, in which viewers will be given the chance to vote for 10 more inductees to the hall.
The programmes will all feature a specific decade, with a choice of potential inductees from each decade.
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