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Manchester debut for Madonna

Madonna will kick off the European leg of her world tour later in Manchester.
All 14,000 tickets for the Material Girl’s first UK performance as part of her Re-Invention Tour sold out within an hour of going on sale in May.
Madge will perform two shows in the city’s MEN Arena before playing five in London and one in Dublin. She will then move on to play the remaining dates in mainland Europe.
Ticket prices for the Manchester gigs started at GBP75 and ranged up to GBP150.
The last time the queen of pop performed in the city was in 1984 at the legendary Hacienda night spot, which has since closed down.
Fans will undoubtedly hope to hear a few of her classic hits such as Vogue, Material Girl, Like A Prayer and Poppa Don’t Preach, mixed in with her latest songs.
Only one Manchester date was originally planned but a second was added following huge public demand for tickets, bringing the total number of performances in the tour to 56.
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Madonna’s Gigs Are ‘too Hot’

Madonna fans have hit out at the superstar after she turned down the air conditioning at shows during her Reinvention tour.
The Material Girl has received numerous complaints from members of the audience, who say her gigs were too hot to enjoy the performance.
But it’s not just the fans that are feeling the heat – her dancers have also complained about their sweaty working conditions.
But John Page, director of Wachovia Centre – where Madonna played on the 4th and 5th of July – insists that, hot or not, the fans still had a fantastic time.
He says, “We limited the air conditioning during the show and it warmed up a bit, but everyone got Into The Groove and enjoyed the Holiday”.
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Madonna’s new book to be released in Russia on her birthday

Madonna’s new book for children entitled “Yakov and the Seven Thieves” will be released in Russia on the singer’s birthday, August 16th. Pop star’s third book for children was released worldwide on June 21st. Madonna’s new creation instantly entered The New York Times best-seller list.
The third book, as the two previous ones – “The English Roses” and “Mr. Peabody’s Apples” – became bestsellers both in Europe and in the USA. “The story is about how all of us have the ability to unlock the gates of Heaven – no matter how unworthy we think we are. For when we go against our selfish natures, we make miracles happen, in our lives and in the lives of others,” says Madonna about her piece of work.
“Yakov and the Seven Thieves” has been published in 110 countries of the world, and translated into 38 languages. The book was illustrated by Russian artist Gennady Spirin, who is considered to be the best contemporary illustrator of Russian classics. The work of one of the world’s best artists to illustrate children’s books was perfect to fit the setting of a small town in East Europe, where the action of Madonna’s book takes place. Gennady Spirin says “Yakov” teaches children compassion, first and foremost.
Madonna’s fourth book of the series entitled “The Adventures of Abdi” will be released worldwide in November 2004.
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Like a vintage

Big-heatrted Madonna has uncorked some of her vast wealth to save her dad’s struggling wine business.
The singer has stumped up a fruity half a million pounds to prevent Ciccone Vineyard closing down, because hubby Guy Ritchie loves their wine so much.
Guy is mad on Tony Ciccone’s 2002 Dolcetto and Pinot Noir wine, so he persuaded his mega-rich wife to inject cash into the vineyard.
A pal of the singer, who reached No3 in 1984 with Like A Virgin, said: “Madonna hasn’t always had the best relationship with her father but she is very close with him now.
When she learned the company wasn’t doing so well she decided she wanted to step into the fray.
But Tony is a very proud man and didn’t want to accept charity, so he made her a major shareholder in Ciccone Vineyard. She was a little reluctant at the start but Guy is a huge fan of the Pinot Noir Tony has been sending them bottles at Christmas for years.
He couldn’t bear to be without it, so he convinced Madonna to put some money in.
The Ciccones have a huge vineyard in the Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan, in the States.
Madonna has always kept her distance from the company, but Tony approached his daughter when it started going through a lean patch.
Pals of the star say she was dithering on the deal until wine-lover Guy convinced her.
She then wrote a cheque for nearly half a million pounds and became the major shareholder.
The Material Girl may have bucketloads of money but at least she’s generous with it. She donates to loads of charities and gives huge amounts of her cash to the Kabbalah faith.
In fact she has just forked out GBP12million to set up a Kabbalah school in New York. Madge doesn’t drink much alcohol herself. Although she enjoys the odd glass of wine, her favourite tipple is Guinness.
But she’s been abstaining altogether since starting her amazing Reinvention world tour, to cope with the huge physical demands of her stage show.
Madge is currently in Britain for the tour’s UK leg and she was snapped jogging around the grounds of her Wiltshire estate with her trainer and Guy.
She was obviously keeping in top shape for her gruelling concert schedule.
Guy, on the other hand, might just be working off the effects of a session on his beloved Ciccone Dolcetto.
source : sun

Lady of the manor takes on the world

As you read this, an articulated truck should be winding its way to Manchester, laden with glittering Victorian-style bustiers, hot pants, stockings, matching pairs of customised underpants which spell out the word “Freedom”, T-shirts proclaiming “Kabbalists do it better”, designer army fatigues and a range of somewhat self-defeating mini-burkhas, cut off at the buttocks.
The vehicle in question is Madonna’s wardrobe truck for her Reinvention world tour, which arrives this weekend for eight arena dates in Manchester and London.
The convoy also includes a 50-ton revolving stage and more than 100 personnel, including 12 dancers, one skateboarder, one bagpipe player, five musicians and an astonishing 56 security guards. I don’t know if she is expecting trouble, but, since the first batch of tickets sold out within two hours, it seems unlikely she will be facing a hostile crowd.
These are practically homecoming dates for the 45-year-old mother of two. Indeed, since the US leg of her tour wound up in Miami last month, Madonna has been spotted out and about in London, jogging in Hyde Park and, in cloth cap and tweeds, visiting The Punchbowl pub in Mayfair with British husband, Guy Ritchie.
As Madonna’s typically idiosyncratic take on English fashion suggests, the Michigan girl has embraced a quaint, Hollywood version of England, mixing working-class, salt-ofthe-earth aesthetics with aristocratic pretensions, as if Bertie Wooster had become landlord of the Queen Vic.
When not supping pints down her local, Madonna retreats to her stately pile on the Wiltshire/Dorset border, where she has recently been engaged in the time-honoured country house pursuit of trying to ban ramblers. Yet, for all her newly acquired aura of stately decorum and domestic harmony, one can never entirely shake the suspicion she might be entirely naked beneath her Barbour jacket.
After 20 years in the spotlight, Madonna carries a lot of baggage. Yet such is her propensity for image makeover that her past does not so much define as obscure her. Peculiarly for such a public figure, there is no consensus on what lies behind the ever-changing facade.
In her heyday, outraged publications regularly used to ask “Who does Madonna think she is?” These days, it is more germane to ask if anyone still cares.
Madonna’s last album, American Life, an attempt to weld polemical statements to fractured disco beats, failed miserably. Panned by critics and ignored by the public, it became her first major release to fail to break the million mark.
This greatest-hits tour has been widely viewed as an attempt to re-establish her place in the pop pantheon. Initially greeted with enormous scepticism in the US, the tour has become the sellout success story of the summer, and this despite ticket prices of more than $300 for the best seats.
“The tour was certainly deemed a commercial success but critically it got mixed responses,” according to Anthony De Curtis, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine. “I think that, after a long successful run, the lustre has gone off her in the US. But I don’t think anybody could quite make sense of what she was trying to do with her shows. Even the very title seems a little redundant.”
But she does seem to have assembled yet another stirring spectacle. The Washington Post called it “a new performance hybrid, one that lifts and blends elements of Broadway, Cirque du Soleil, Rock the Vote rallies, art installations, extreme sporting events, church sermons, disco dances and gun-spinning military drills. For a few songs, it even looked like a rock concert.”
However, critics seemed universally baffled about what exactly the Reinvention tour was all supposed to represent, with Madonna apparently finding no contradiction following the anthem of self-interest Material Girl with a hippie strumalong of John Lennon’s Imagine, all set to footage of war-ravaged children.
An anti-war theme runs through the show, but The Washington Post accused her of jumping on this particular band wagon long after it had trundled out of Iraq.
“Gutsy? Not at this point, now that it’s safe to stand against the administration. Madonna would earn points for courage if last year, at the time of the US invasion, she hadn’t yanked the video for American Life, which ridiculed Bush as a warmongering nincompoop.
“No doubt Madonna was worried she’d get Dixie Chicked – that country threesome paid dearly for criticising the president last year. Madonna’s finger-wagging felt like catch-up, and it was turned into a Miss Saigon-style dance number that trivialised its own point of view.”
But someone whose ventures into the world of publishing are as sharply contrasting as a book of erotica and a stern children’s morality tale is unlikely to be embarrassed by having her contradictions pointed out.
“There’s a lot of mixed messages,” Madonna said after the launch of her tour in LA. “It would take me hours to explain them. Come back and see the show again.”
The critics have also noticed that there is less sex on this tour than ever before: the bullet bra has been replaced by an age-appropriate corset and the bedroom bump and grind of earlier shows has given way to yoga demonstrations.
“The last time she really made an impact in the US was when she kissed Britney at the MTV awards and everyone got a chance to say how exploitative it was, just like the old days,” says De Curtis. “It’s sort of funny. For years, everybody complained that ‘Madonna’s shock obsessed’. Then on this tour everybody was saying, ‘Gee, where’s the sex?’ I think people were a little let down that she was kind of acting her age for once. That’s the last thing anyone expected.”
Madonna’s old infatuation with decadence has largely given way to an obsession with physical and spiritual health. Her concert rider demands 25 cases of Kabbalah blessed water backstage, and there are no shows on Fridays due to her observance of Shabbat.
But searching questions were asked by a senior recording industry executive and personal acquaintance of Madonna. “At the very heart of the Kabbalah is the idea that what you put out, you get back. So I wonder what she gets out of that, because she is not a generous person.
“She is the Margaret Thatcher of pop. Her entire philosophy is about self-belief and selfmotivation. She has never thanked anyone who ever worked for her. Her vibe is ‘You are lucky to work for me’. Which is great; she’s a tough woman and people love it, but I can’t figure out how that fits with this new hippie shtick, because I don’t think there’s a hippie bone in her body. She’s punk rock, all the way.”
The contrast between Madonna’s boy-toy past and new-found political idealism and religious conviction seem to be at the core of the sceptical response of US critics.
The question raised time and again is why should Madonna be taken seriously, just because she takes herself seriously?
As baffled or amused as the US critics might have been, they did concur with her loyal fans on one point: Madonna’s latest shows are never less than entertaining. “Here’s the weird part,” said The Washington Post. “It’s not a mess. It’s actually kind of amazing.”
Rolling Stone went further, proclaiming that her latest reinvention was perhaps the most surprising of all: “The 45-year-old, whom few have ever taken seriously as a musician has matured into a truly great pop singer.”
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Faith, or fad?

Madonna’s upcoming pilgrimage to Israel for a Kabbalah spiritual retreat has raised questions over the nature of her faith – has the self-proclaimed Material Girl really embraced the traditions of ancient Jewish mysticism or is this simply the latest glitterati self-help fad?
In a bid to shed something of her former raunchy image, the US pop diva in 1997 began looking into Kabbalah – or at least a modern version of it – rapidly becoming one of its most high-profile faces.
Symbols of Madonna’s deepening “faith” are readily apparent – religious Jewish symbols and Hebrew letters feature in many of her more recent pop videos and she is rarely seen without the trademark red string around her wrist to ward off the evil eye.
Two months ago, she changed her name to Esther and is now reportedly observing the Jewish sabbath.
Madonna’s conversion arrived after she came into contact with the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre which, according to its website, offers a path to spiritual enlightenment through an eclectic mix of Orthodox Jewish tradition, visualisation and positive thinking.
Through meditation on the “cosmic energy” emitted by the Hebrew alphabet, the site says, adherents can gain “inner peace, financial prosperity, power and pleasure”, amongst other things.
Despite its obvious Jewish character, this westernised version of Kabbalah has attracted a panoply of non-Jewish celebrities, such as Britney Spears, Demi Moore, Elizabeth Taylor and Mick Jagger.
And now Madonna’s spiritual odyssey looks set to bring her and several thousand others to Israel in mid-September over the Jewish New Year.
Not everyone is happy with Madge’s attachment to Jewish mysticism, with religious scholars at pains to point out that this ‘popularised’ version of Kabbalah is a far cry from the Orthodox spirituality prescribed by the sages of old.
An esoteric offshoot of Judaism, Kabbalah’s origins can be traced back to the 12th and 13th centuries when its central text, the Zohar, was penned.
Taught only to a select few – namely, pious Jewish males over the age of 40 who had spent a lifetime immersed in the study of Hebrew texts – study of Kabbalah required arduous meditation and a strictly ascetic lifestyle.
Little wonder then that the Kabbalah Centre’s scented candles for banishing depression or improving your sex life, not to mention its specially-blessed Kabbalah spring water, has been greeted with ill-disguised contempt by many Orthodox Jews.
If the 45-year-old singer was hoping to use her upcoming visit to Israel to swap notes with Rabbi Yitzhak Keduri, one of Israel’s most venerated adherents of Kabbalah, she is set to be disappointed.
“I don’t know her, I don’t know of her and I won’t see her,” Keduri told the Maariv daily recently, pointing out that the study of Kabbalah was not open to women nor to non-Jews.
“Kabbalah is an added mystical tier to Judaism which comes after there is a total acceptance of a religious lifestyle and a religious value system,” Rabbi Shlomo Rifkin told AFP.
The traditional idea is that anyone studying Kabbalah must first be a mature, practising Jew, explained Rifkin, chief rabbi of the Efrat settlement in the southern West Bank.
“Maturity is important because some people can get wrapped up in the esoteric spirituality which can sometimes be cheapened into general love fests, or debauchery,” he warned.
“In the Hollywood sense, the people who are accepting Kabbalah with such alacrity, such as Madonna, are taking many of the mystical concepts but not necessarily the unique lifestyle.”
Jerusalem-based rabbi Yehoshua Engelman believes the upsurge in popularity of Kabbalah is part of a growing interest across the globe in the deeper meaning of life.
“Just as in the past 30 or 40 years, Buddhism and other religions have become popularised, so a similar thing has happened with Sufism and Kabbalah,” Engelman said.
“People are looking for a greater depth and spirituality than they were a hundred years ago. I imagine Madonna is searching for something meaningful in life and that search has to be encouraged.”
But Rifkin is not convinced.
“As an actress and a singer, if the quality of her shows has changed fundamentally since she’s found Kabbalah, and if sex is not paraded publicly then I would say it’s positive,” he surmised.
“If it hasn’t influenced these things, then it’s just a Hollywood fad that is meaningless in terms of Judaism.”
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Backstage wish-list shows Madonna still a ‘material girl’

Religious convert or not, the original Material Girl is proving she is still high maintenance long before she sets foot on Irish soil.
A pilates stretch ball, something called Throat coat tea and no less than 25 crates of healing Kabbalah water are just some of the backstage demands from Madonna for her one-night concert at Slane Castle in Co Meath.
Apparently, the fact that the gig has still failed to sell out has not stunted her capacity to play the pop diva, with special requests for ricola cough drops, if you don’t mind, to soothe her expensive throat.
Having committed to paying the queen of pop an estimated 4m euros for the August 29 concert, organisers are now being asked to attend to her every whim.
Perhaps the most surprising item on the singer’s so-called rider is her stipulation that the back-stage provisions should include vodka, hardly the tipple of choice for a yoga-loving health fanatic.
But fans needs not gasp in horror at this revelation – Madonna plans to use the high-alcohol spirit to remove unwanted stains from her stage clothes.
Why spend any of those millions on a dry-cleaning service when you can use a bit of the colourless fluid most of us would prefer to see in a glass with ice. It is not clear whether Madge prefers Smirnoff or Stoli for stain-removal.
To be fair, Madonna’s backstage demand list is nothing extraordinary compared to other international pop divas and rock stars. The infamous J-Lo specifies Evian water at room temperature and a host of foodstuffs including Apple Pie a-la-Mode.
Janet Jackson betrayed her guzzling by demanding four gallons of spring water, but without the healing energies and positive vibes associated with Madonna’s favourite brand.
Still, Madge brings her own unique style to the backstage wish-list, warning organisers MCD that her precious pilates stretch ball will take eight minutes to warm-up.
The 45-year-old singer, on the other hand, will require just short of an hour to get her hair and make-up stage perfect, even with the help of an entourage of 110 people.
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Madonna Seeking Peace

Madonna has reportedly demanded a special “peace room” to be built for her backstage at her upcoming UK gigs.
She wants a soundproof area where she can medidate and go into a trance before going on stage, according to The Sun.
The 45-year-old superstar is a devotee of the mystical Jewish Kabbalah religion.
The paper says the walls of the room must be draped in green sheeting and have soft cushions on the floor.
It quotes “an insider” as saying: “She doesn’t want to hear a pin drop and it needs to be green – the colour most conducive to medidation.
“She calls it her peace room.”
The room is reportedly being set up at the Manchester Evening News Arena, where Madonna plays two concerts this weekend.
She also has six other dates on her British tour.
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Madonna’s Guinness Fad

Pop queen Madonna’s latest fad is downing pints of Guninness before her live Re-Invention concerts.
The Material Girl has embraced many aspects of British and Irish culture since moving to England with husband Guy Ritchie and has developed a penchant for the dark stout.
A close source says, “She finds it perks her up for a live performance and gives her an extra edge. She has to have it in a proper pint glass and chilled to exactly the right temperature before she will drink it. She’s even got some of her crew on the same ritual. They all swear by it.”
The Kabbalah-loving megastar also insists on praying for 30 minutes to aid her performance.
source : contact music

Hollywood Stars Hit The Olympics

A string of A-list celebrities including Tom Cruise, Madonna and Brad Pitt are flying to the Greek capital Athens ahead of the opening ceremony of the Olympics this Friday.
The list includes Angelina Jolie, a pregnant Julia Roberts, David and Victoria Beckham, Britney Spears, Jack Nicholson, Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone and members of the British Royal Family.
Hollywood stars Roberts and Nicholson have rented villas about 35 miles from Athens, whereas soccer star Beckham and his ex-Spice Girls wife have already booked a suite aboard the Queen Mary II – the world’s most luxurious cruise ship – which will dock at the city’s Piraeus port.
Spears, her fiance, and twelve of her pals have also taken to the water – renting a luxury yacht to cruise around the Greek Islands.
Pop queen Madonna has also booked a yacht and villa in the area.
However these high profile guests will add more pressure to the already stretched security budget.
The Greek government have already spent three times more on security than organisers of the last games in Sydney, Australia four years ago – with the bill already exceeding a massive $900 million.
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Madonna seeks energy from the ‘upper world’ in Israel!

Pop queen Madonna intends to embark upon a spiritual journey to Israel to rejuvenate her spirits and absorb positive energy from the ‘upper world’.
According to The Sun, after her re-invention tour ends in Europe, the diva will accompany her husband, two children and other followers of the Kabbalah religion on the ‘Energy tour’, which starts in September, the holiest month in the Jewish calendar.
Staunch followers of the religion believe that the pilgrimage enables followers to undo their past misdeeds and begin afresh in life.
source : ANI

Kravitz tops heartbreak list

LENNY Kravitz has been named Hollywood’s biggest heartbreaker.
The 40-year-old topped the poll after being linked to a string of celebrity beauties, including Nicole Kidman, Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Vanessa Paradis and Naomi Campbell.
Readers of US In Touch voted hotel heiress Paris Hilton in second place, reports the Daily Star.
But Kravitz, who has a failed marriage to actor Lisa Bonet, claims he just wants to settle down again.
“I think it will come, it’s something I want,” he said.
Friends star Matthew Perry came third with actror Jennifer Love Hewitt fourth and George Clooney fifth.
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