Madonna news - Aug. 2004


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15 August - Madonna kicks off European leg of re-Invention tour
Yesterday evening, Madonna kicked off the European leg of her re-Invention tour with aa first concert at the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester. Check out our updated tour diary for more (contains spoilers).

15 August - Ray Of Light in list of 'near misses'
Robbie Williams' Angels has come top of a list of songs which should have made it to number one but never did. Released in December 1997, the ballad only got to number four while the top slot was taken by children's favourite The Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh! Music fans have compiled a list of 50 songs which should have made it to the top of the UK charts but failed. Stars who were unfairly denied a number one include pop queen Madonna, rockers Bon Jovi and Oasis.
The Guns n' Roses classic Sweet Child O' Mine became a rock anthem following its release in 1988. But the song , which takes 20th place in the poll for TV music channel VH1, only made it to 24th place in the UK Chart.
Other songs which should have made it to number one but didn't include U2 ballad With or Without You. It only reached number four in 1987. A-Ha's Take on Me, which reached number two but was denied a number one by David Bowie and Mick Jagger's Dancing in the Street, is also on the list. Queen's I Want to Break Free, which got to number three when the number one was Hello by Lionel Richie, also makes it into the poll. Michael Jackson's Thriller, which went to number 10, takes ninth place in the poll alongside the troubled star's Smooth Criminal, which peaked at number eight.
Others in the list are Madonna's Ray of Light - which reached number two in 1998 and was beaten to number one by All Saints' Under the Bridge/Lady Marmalade; and Bon Jovi's Livin on a Prayer, which reached number four in 1986, when Every Loser Wins by ex-EastEnders star Nick Berry claimed number one.
The Oasis hit Wonderwall, which reached number two and was denied the number one by Robson and Jerome's I Believe/Up on the Roof and Queen's Radio Ga Ga, which reached number two and was denied number one by Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Relax, should have also made the top slot, according to music fans. (source: ITV)

15 August - Madonna saves dad's vineyard
Madonna has stepped in to save her father's ailing wine business - with a $900,000 (€737,500) lump sum. The Material Girl handed over the cash to stop dad Tony Ciccone's vineyard from closing down. The generous 45-year-old was persuaded to help out because her husband, film director Guy Ritchie, didn't want to be without his favourite wine - Ciccone's 2002 Dolcetto and Pinot Noir. And proud dad Ciccone has made his famous daughter the major shareholder, to thank her for her kindness.
An insider says: "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 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 for Christmas for years. "He couldn't bear to be without it, so he convinced Madonna to put some money in." (source: Irish Examiner)

15 August - 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" (source: TeenMusic)

12 August - Madonna books yacht and villa in Athens *rumour*
The rumours about Madonna attending the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Athens tomorrow evening are persistent.
WBEX
reports: "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."

12 August - Website about unreleased Madonna songs
Madonna fan and connaisseur Bruce Baron has mailed us the link to his page at Wikipedia, where he has collected all his information about unreleased Madonna songs. Bruce has written many articles before about the different tracks that were recorded by Madonna but never released. Now you can find all this interesting information on one place! Certainly worth a look - thanks for the great effort Bruce!

12 August - Article in Femme Actuelle
Special thanks to Madonnafan and loyal Mad-Eyes contributor Flo from France, who has scanned the 6-page Madonna article that appeared in the latest issue of Femme Actuelle. The article (in French) talks about her 20 years of succesfull career (though they sometimes exagerate talking about 25 years!) and her personal life throughout those years. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

Femme Actuelle Femme Actuelle Femme Actuelle

12 August - Madonna's Guinness fad
Pop queen Madonna's latest fad is downing pints of Guinness before her live Re-Invention concerts. She 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: Ireland On-Line)

12 August - Madonna asks for 'peace room'
Madonna has demanded a special "peace room" to be built backstage at her upcoming UK gigs. She wants a soundproof area where she can meditate 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 meditation. "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. (source: News24)

12 August - 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. (source: Belfast Telegraph)

12 August - Questions raised over Madonna's Kabbalah faith
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 came about after she came into contact with the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Center which, according to its website, offers a path to spiritual enlightenment through an eclectic mix of Orthodox Jewish tradition, visualization and positive thinking.
Through meditation on the 'cosmic energy' emitted by the Hebrew alphabet, the site said, adherents can gain 'inner peace, financial prosperity, power and pleasure,' among other things.
Despite its obvious Jewish character, this westernized version of Kabbalah has attracted a panopoly 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 'popularized' 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 Center’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.
Rabbi Yitzhak Kadouri refuses to meet Madonna "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 or 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 Agence France-Presse.
The traditional idea is that anyone studying Kabbalah must first be a mature, practicing 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 popularized, so a similar thing has happened with Sufism and Kabbalah," Engelman said. (source: Manila Times)

09 August - Chilis hotter than Madonna
POP queen, Madonna, is still in 'Vogue' with local music fans - even though promoters for her spectacular Irish live debut admit that they can't yet put up those 'sold-out' signs.
Organisers for the US music icon's Slane Castle appearance, on August 29, have hit back at allegations that the concert has been a relative pop flop.
According to UK media claims, Irish ticket sales for the former Material Girl, turned maternal megastar, have been "far slower than expected".
One report said: "The show was predicted to sell-out in record time. But not even half of the tickets were sold by the end of the first day.
"Last year, the Red Hot Chili Peppers sold-out the same venue in two-and-a-half hours."
However, MCD spokesman, Justin Green, dismissed allegations that Madonna's Irish ticket sales had been disappointing and pointed out that there are now "only a limited number" left for the 80,000 capacity gig.
He said: "We are delighted with the sales to date and only wish every artist could sell tickets and break box office records like Madonna has done this year.
"There are only a limited number of tickets available at this stage and thus, this has allowed us to reduce our planned advertising spend by 50pc."
When tickets for the 45-year-old singer's Re-invention tour show at Slane went on sale Ireland's main outlet, Ticketmaster, hired an extra 300 staff to cope with the expected deluge of demand.
More than 30,000 tickets were snapped up within 30 minutes of going on sale on June 18 - with 70pc sold within five days.
But surprisingly, Madonna - the biggest selling female artist of all time - has not measured up to the astonishing Slane box office records set by U2.
In 2001, Bono and the boys sold TWO shows out in 40 minutes and 94 minutes, respectively.
Last year, US funk metallers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, also proved to be a Slane sell-out in just two-and-a-half hours.
It is thought that the 88.50 euro (£58.40) price tag for the Madonna show may have put some concert punters off - costing £19 (29 euro) more than the Red Hot Chili Peppers and U2 Slane gigs.
Tickets for indoor Madonna Re-invention concerts in Holland this September cost between £37 to £57.
The 120-date Re-invention World Tour is expected to gross a whopping £70m.
Madonna - 46 years old on August 16 - will take away an estimated two million euro profit from just one night's work at Slane. (source: Sunday Life)
~ Correction: the re-Invention tour consists of 56 shows, not 120.

09 August - Author slams Madonna's "preachy" writing attempts
Best-selling children's author Julia Donaldson has slammed Madonna's attempts at writing books for kids, labelling the singer's stories "preachy" and "novelty".
The British writer, whose books Spinderella, The Gruffalo and Follow The Swallow have an army of young fans across the UK, believes the Material Girl only got a publishing deal because of her fame.
Madonna has just released her third book Yakov And The Seven Thieves, based on the teachings of the controversial Kabbalah - a mystical offshoot of Judaism.
The pop queen entered the literary foray in September 2003 with her first kids story The English Roses.
Donaldson says, "I've only had a glance at Madonna's books but they didn't leave me wanting to read more. I didn't think, 'Wow'.
"I doubt if an unknown had sent that script to the publishers, it would have been accepted. It doesn't seem a grabbing or must-have text.
"I think the books are a bit preachy. There's a novelty element to them.
"The first book generated a lot of interest but that was mainly down to who Madonna is. There's no plot or clever structure." (source: ContactMusic)

09 August - Tour worker gets injured at Earls Court
A rigger who was working as part of Madonna's production crew has been injured in an accident during preparations for her latest tour.
The man suffered a broken arm and leg in the accident at Earl's Court.
The London Ambulance Service said the rigger was flown by air ambulance to hospital after falling 30ft.
Madonna begins her UK tour in Manchester on 14 August and is scheduled to play Earl's Court on 18 and 19 August.
An ambulance spokesman said: "We received a call from Earl's Court at 1pm to say that a man had fallen approximately 30ft.
"An ambulance and air ambulance were called and crews were on the scene for around two hours because there were difficulties moving the patient. His main injuries appeared to be to his shoulder and arm."
Madonna's manager Caresse Henry said: "The entire crew, performers and staff, especially Madonna, were very saddened to hear about the accident but are hopeful that he will make a full recovery." (source: BBC)

05 August - Madonna opens Kabbalah school
Superstar Madonna has reportedly spent $21.6 million (GBP12 million) on funding a New York Kabbalah Grammer school. The Material Girl has been a devoted follower of the controversial, mystical offshoot of Judaism since 1997, when she was pregnant with her first child Lourdes. British newspaper The Sun claims Madonna's Kabbalist Grammer School For Children will open in December (04), only a few blocks away from her and husband Guy Ritchie's Manhattan apartment. A source close to the singer says, "The school has been a dream of Madonna's for some time. "Education means a lot to her and she was keen to make the most of her money by leaving a lasting mark as well as helping kids. "She has been dedicated to putting money away to pay for the building and she's delighted to finally own it. "The papers have been signed and the school will be opening its doors to the first class in December." Parents who want their five-year-old children to enrol at the school must prove they are Kabbalists before receiving an application form. After a probing family interview and academic test, parents of accepted pupils will have to pay upwards of $3,600 (GBP2,000) a term. Despite studying regular subjects such as English and maths, Madonna has insisted "spirituality" will be a key theme in all subjects. (source: ContactMusic)

Madonna and Mullally in 'Willand Grace' 05 August - Mullally laughs off 'best friend' Madonna
Will and Grace star Megan Mullally has laughed off claims she and Madonna are best friends after the Material Girl cameod on the hit comedy. The superstar played Liz - a potential housemate for Mullally's bitchy character Karen - last April (03) and soon after tabloids were speculating the two had struck up a close friendship. Mullally explains, "We got on well when she was on the show and I interviewed her after that. "It's not like we're in constant communication, but we've got mutual friends and there's possibility of a cocktail or something down the line." (source: ContactMusic)

05 August - A la Madonna
It's not what she wears, but how she wears it that has made the pop singer an idol for two decades
It's been 21 years since the belly-baring, headband-wearing street urchin with the improbable name of Madonna burst onto the pop music stage.
Two decades later, she is still in the international spotlight. She has evolved from Madonna, the pop tart, to Madonna, the S&M sex maven, to Madge the British wife/children's author, to Esther, the Kabbalah follower.
The adult life of the Bay City, Michigan-born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone has been a spinning top that has generated love and awe (from her fans), hate and disgust (from those who found her merely vulgar) and controversy (enough to fill a book).
Whatever else was going on, though, Madonna and the world of fashion have been inextricably tied together. She has hooked up with designers such as Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Jean-Paul Gaultier (maker of her famous pointy corset bra), to name just a few, and given them name recognition in new circles.
Most people, in fact, were more likely to wonder what Madonna's latest look would be blond Marilyn? brunette Goth? and so on than how her latest single would sound.
"Her image was always more cutting edge than her music," says Anne Bissonnette, curator of the Kent State University Museum. "It was so strong, that, from the start, you could immediately recognize her followers."
And how's this for irony? The woman who made underwear worn as outerwear famous was recently named the best-dressed woman over 40 in Great Britain, by no less than that country's Good Housekeeping magazine.
Well, it could never be said that Madonna's fashion range isn't extraordinarily wide.
She may have worn prim, flowered Prada dresses on her book tour, but on her current concert tour she wears costumes by made by Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney and Christian LaCroix
That tour features a retrospective of her various looks over the years: from the white lingerie bride look, to pointy-breasted dance warrior, to kilt-wearing schoolgirl run amok.

Like a virgin
with shock appeal
David Wolfe is one of the world's top fashion forecasters, so he's been paying attention to Madonna, he says, "since when she was Like a Virgin. ' "
Wolfe, creative director of New York's Doneger Group, first saw her on MTV in the mid-1980s.
"We were so easily shocked then," he says. "Her wearing a lacy white bra as an outer garment that was just the beginning of what I think of as an endless succession of what has inspired fashion."
Earlier in her career, Madonna said, "I think I have an original sense of style, and I think that people are unconsciously copying my style. Sometimes, when you see people do that, it's really cute, you know? But sometimes it isn't."
Or, as Wolfe adds dryly, "I'm not sure it's been a great 20 years as far as fashion. She's one of the people who have helped push down the fashion taste level, since she always had to be top banana in the shock department."
But, he acknowledges, "She also was one of the first pop stars to link herself with top fashion names, and she led pop music into high fashion."
Now, of course, one typically sees Beyonce, Christina Aguilera and other pop singers wearing designs by Versace and Dior.
Tom Julian, the New York- based trend analyst for Fallon Worldwide, says Madonna's background in New York City's "underground" was crucial to her becoming someone who popularized trends, including bringing fetish wear out of the closet.
"She had that vantage point and an instinct for how exciting that world was," he says. "She had the mind to extract certain elements from it and to make those elements commercial, relevant and exposed."
Her timing was right, too. Madonna became, and stayed, a star just as fashion designers were themselves becoming celebrities.
"She came of age in a vibrant fashion era," says Julian. "She embraces the fashion darlings designers like Dolce & Gabbana and not only for her concerts. She wore Olivier Theyskens at the Oscars one year and made him a name in fashion."
Bissonnette was in fashion school when Madonna emerged in the mid-1980s.
"Jean-Paul Gaultier was important before, but she sent him to new heights," says Bissonnette. "She had a great ability to select individual designers who had a focus on performance- based garments.
"With Madonna it was always as much about how she wears the clothes, as it is about the clothes themselves."

Expressing herself
over and over again
At first, Madonna mimicked the look of New York's fringe, artsy world: the raggedy, layered thrift-shop look, complete with black leather jacket, multiple rubber bracelets and torn fishnets. Later, her fashion turns were more stark, whether in the androgynous oversized tuxedo in the "Express Yourself" video or as the Hollywood bombshell in her Dick Tracy phase.
But more often than not, Madonna mixed things up. "She appropriated pieces from different designers," Bissonnette explains. In other words, she was never like Cher, who always wore Bob Mackie for big public occasions.
"A bustier is a bustier, but with a crinoline skirt and a funky hairstyle, it becomes something else," adds Bissonnette. "The difference between fashion and style is one's ability to do that, and that's what Madonna has."
Then too, there was her body, which evolved from puppy-fat softness, to articulated musculature to a longer-muscled yoga look.
Bissonnette points out that Madonna's style incorporated her body. She brought an extreme muscular look into the mainstream. "It became OK to look like that," Bissonnette says.
Still, while Madonna might inspire fashion followers, Wolfe says, "I never saw her wearing something first. She'd pick something up, from streetwear, or often, she'd just be wearing an extreme version of something that's come down the runway."
Where she has excelled, he says, "was making the general public aware of trends that otherwise only fashion people were aware of.
"She feels the pulse of fashion she gets it a heartbeat ahead of the general public."
Bissonnette agrees. "She is not a follower, but a leader. It's very hard to maintain that for 20 years, but she has done it."
Wolfe says Madonna is the per fect icon for a population with a short attention span.
"She understood that fashion was speeding up and she encouraged people to change constantly. She never stayed the same long enough for anyone to get bored with her." (source: The Plain Dealer)

03 August - RIT grosses
Jim Radenhausen, Madonnafan and expert in Madonna statistics has provided us - through the MIR - with the attendencies and grosses of the US shows of the re-Invention tour:
1. Inglewood, Calif.: $6,965,055 - 3 shows / 43,158 attendance
2. Las Vegas, Nev.: $7,005,548 - 2 shows / 28,341 attendance
3. Anaheim, Calif.: $4,164,450 - 2 shows / 24,250 attendance
4. San Jose, Calif.: $5,543,715 - 3 shows / 40,205 attendance
5. Washington, D.C.: ? - 2 shows / ?
6. New York, New York: ? - 6 shows / ?
7. Boston/Worcester, Mass.: $6,439,890 - 4 shows / 46,075 attendance
8. Philadelphia, Pa.: $4,134,478 - 2 shows / 30,575 attendance
9. East Rutherford, N.J.: $4,437,345 - 2 shows / 29,315 attendance
10. Chicago, Ill.: $7,894,105 - 4 shows / 59,591 attendance
11. Toronto: $5,322,703 - 3 shows / 52,167 attendance
12. Atlanta: ? - 2 shows / ?
13. Miami, Fla.: ? - 2 shows / ?
14. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: ? - 2 shows / ?

Totals for 25 shows reported to Billboard: $51,907,289
Since the NJ and Philly averages were $2 million+ per show, I only imagine the NY shows will be as much, if not slightly more. So, that's at least $12 million. For D.C., even using the lower average of $1.65 million, that's at least $3.3 million there. Using Pollstar's mid-year report- which covered the period through 6/30 (3 Boston shows included, averaging roughly $1.6 million per show)- that leaves roughly $16.4 million for the 8 shows in D.C. and NY. Sounds about right, if the D.C. shows did around $3.5 million+, and the NY shows around $12.5 million+. The remaining 3 cities should add another $10 million or more to the gross- so, it should end its North American leg with $78-$80 million or so.

02 August - Madonna in Greece? *rumour*
A lot of rumours have been circulating about Madonna going to Greece. Greek correspondents have informed us that Greek media are claiming Madonna will be on holiday on the Greek islands with Uma Thurman, Tom Hanks and Angelina Jolie. other sources have told us that a hotel room is booked for Madonna, Guy and the children, and that there definitely have been negociations for Madonna to be a guest, possibly performer on the opening ceremony of the Olympics on August 13th. One night before her Manchester show, that would be a nice way to open the European leg of the tour. However, Caresse Henry supposedly has denied all these rumours.
Below is an article from the Macedonian Press Agency:
"A record number of foreign dignitaries are expected to watch the Athens Olympic Games given the fact that the number of applications by personalities from around the world is unprecedented.
According to the Athens newspaper “Apogevmatini”, some of the foreign politicians who will come to Athens to watch the Games will be former US President George Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Jacques Chirac, Romanian President Ion Iliescu, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the French Finance Minister, new European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Baroso and former FRG Foreign Minister Mr. Gensher.
Also, present will be former king of Greece Konstantinos, who is a member of the International Olympic Committee, with all his family, Prince Charles and Belgian crown prince Philip with Princess Matilde.
The games will attend the Mayors of New York, Rome, Paris, London and Istanbul invited by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni.
Among the Hollywood stars to watch the games will be Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Sylvester Stalone, Tom Hanks and film director Steven Spielberg. World famous singer Madonna will be in Greece as the guest of one of the Olympic Games sponsors."
~ As usual, we'll have to wait to find out who's right.

02 August - Marriages see the Madonna effect
Pop music's queen of reinvention has been instrumental in forging Scotland an international reputation as a top wedding destination.
Madonna's wedding to Guy Ritchie placed the quiet Highland town of Dornoch at the centre of a media whirlwind.
Journalists, camera crews and the paparazzi descended on the town desperate for a glimpse of the couple and guests like Gwyneth Paltrow, Donatella Versace and Stella McCartney.
Even before the ceremony at the exclusive Skibo Castle in December 2000, tourism bosses had moved to try and capitalise on the worldwide exposure.
And the latest statistics from Scotland's registrar general, Duncan Macniven, have demonstrated that their efforts were well placed. His annual report for 2003 found that marriages had hit a 10-year high. Mr Macniven said: "Tourist weddings, that's weddings where neither of the couple is resident in Scotland, are about a third of the total and are increasing progressively. "I think it's something Scotland can be very proud of."
The number of tourism weddings has surged by 10% over a four-year period, rising from 8,174 in 1999 to 8,916 in 2003. Mr Macniven said the rise could be attributed to "the Madonna effect". Her wedding sparked a mini economic boom and generated an estimated £2.5m for the Sutherland economy at the time. And the benefits of having a picturesque part of the Highlands beamed into homes across the world have proven to be long-lasting.
A spokesman for tourism body VisitScotland said: "It highlighted to people that Scotland is an ideal destination for a wedding. "You just have to look at the fantastic scenery that we have and the picturesque settings in the Highlands, the Borders and across Scotland." He said Scotland was "right up there with the best of them" as a marriage location. "After the Madonna marriage it was very important to build on the success of her wedding," he said. "We did a lot of marketing of Scotland as a romantic destination and somewhere to come to get married. "It has proven to be a big success, as you can see from the figures increasing."
In the days before the ceremony, the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board launched a special website to promote the area as a wedding destination. The marketing push has continued since then, with VisitScotland this year launching a new website which aims to highlight Scotland's romantic side as a setting for short breaks, weddings and honeymoons.
Other celebrity weddings have followed the Madonna marriage, increasing Scotland's profile yet further. Racing driver Dario Franchitti and American actress Ashley Judd were also married at Skibo Castle amid tight secrecy the following year. Last year fashion designer Stella McCartney, one of Madonna's guests, married publisher Alasdhair Willis on Bute in another celebrity-studded ceremony. Long before Dornoch took its turn in the spotlight, Gretna Green was the location synonymous with marriages in Scotland.
Its history as a destination for eloping couples dates back to the passing of the 1754 Marriage Act in England. It made it illegal for a couple to marry without parental consent if either party was under 21. To avoid the law, young lovers travelled over the border to take advantage of Scotland's more lenient laws.
For more than a century the ceremonies were often conducted by a blacksmith priest over an anvil. Sheila Wallace, senior registrar at Gretna, said people were attracted to Gretna because of its history rather than as a result of celebrity marriages. However, she said another factor identified in Mr Macniven's report did have an impact on the town. He suggested that a new law which came into effect in 2002, allowing non-religious marriages outside of registration offices, may have contributed to a rise in the number of Scots couples getting hitched. More than 10% of all marriages in 2003 were civil ceremonies conducted in the 424 castles, hotels and other venues which are now approved for the purpose.
Civil ceremonies accounted for 40% of the 3,500 marriages held in places other than churches or registration offices in Gretna. Ms Wallace said she had seen a "big difference" in wedding venues since the law came into effect. She added: "I don't think the numbers will increase, but it means that people can have civil marriages at the venue of their choice. "Religious marriages are dropping in our district because people are opting to have civil marriages at the blacksmith's." (source: BBC)

02 August - A letter from ICON
Dear Friends,
I hope most of you already had a chance to enjoy one (or more) of Madonna's U.S shows! The new issue of Icon (#41) is about to be sent out to subscribers... Vogue Paris Magazine has devoted it's pages to the Re-Invention tour as Madonna graces the cover of the August edition. The spread includes exclusive studio and live shots taken by Steven Klein as well as an article written by Madonna's publicist, Liz Rosenberg. If you haven't gotten a copy of it yet, we have a great deal for you. Icon #42 will be entirely devoted to Madonna's new tour and will include fan reviews and pictures from around the world. Just write your own review of the tour and e-mail it to us before August 11. The best reviews and pictures will be published in Icon and their authors will receive a free copy of Vogue Paris right in their mailbox! Your review can be short or long, based on what you've seen during the show or what came to your mind right after it, etc., YOU DECIDE! Be sure to e-mail your review and pictures to the following address: icontest@moov-u.com before August 11. Please note that you don't have to be an Icon member to submit your review, but you must be Madonna fan! Fan photographers, pictures will only be accepted if they are Jpegs at least 1.000 pixels "tall" and no more than 1Mb per image. One entry per person, thanks!
Good luck and see you on the road!
xo
Johann
(source: Madonna.com)

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