Madonna news - Sep. 2004

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Now Madge courts fans *rumour*

Source: The Mirror - 30 September 2004

Great news for Madonna fans. We hear the superstar is planning three more dates at London's Earls Court.

Sources say the 46-year-old singer, who makes around £1million per concert, was so pleased with the response from fans when she performed there last month she wants to play there again.

An insider tells us: "It's still in the planning stages, but Madonna can't wait to go back to Earl's Court. She's hoping the shows will take place next month, we're just waiting to get confirmation."

Let's just hope the tickets are less expensive this time around.

~ Now, as much as I would want this to be true, I feel I must warn all of you who are already getting their hopes up: this story is 99% likely to be untrue. Madonna is someone who always plans in advance. She's not someone who finishes a tour in style, then goes off to Israel on a religious holiday, and then comes back to do encore-shows in a city where she's already given 6 concerts earlier this summer.

The contract of the dancers expired September 15th and to get the show rolling again administratively and technically is way too expensive and way too much trouble. But... you never know; we can always hope :-) -Bartie

Madonna's university challenge

Source: The Sun - 30 September 2004

There are a few challenges left for Madonna - and a university degree is one of them. Having pretty much conquered the world of pop, Madge is now set to read Literature at Oxford University.

The Material Girl is to further her knowledge of British literary greats such as Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen by studying for a Bachelor of Arts qualification.

But undergraduates should not get too excited about sharing halls of residence with her — she will be doing the course from home.

A source said: “Madonna was always frustrated about having to sacrifice her education when her music career took off.

"She is fiercely intelligent and incredibly well read and has always taken a keen interest in literature. She is determined to get a qualification.

"She sets herself new challenges all the time and the Oxford University course is her latest.
"It's an illustrious place to study and she was delighted to be accepted and will make the most of the opportunity."

Madonna is a dab hand on the computer and researched courses where she could study from home and submit her assignments online — from anywhere in the world. And distance learning at Oxford means just that.

Its Faculty of English is the largest in the UK with about 100 professors and lecturers. Madge was 19 and learning dance after finishing school in Michigan when her pop career took off. Since then the Queen of Pop has longed to get her education back on track.

10 songs Madge could sing at uni:
1. Don't Cry For Me Academia
2. Papa Don't Teach
3. Die Another Degree
4. M.A.terial Girl
5. Borderline First
6. True Oxford Blue
7. La Isla B.A.nita
8. Crazy For Uni
9. Love Prof-usion
10. (Bloody Long) Holiday

Eminem is mocking Madonna

Source: MSNBC - 29 September 2004

The controversial rapper dresses up in drag for footage he'll likely use in an upcoming video, appearing as the Material Girl as she looked during her Blonde Ambition Tour, a source tells The Scoop.

In the scene, Slim Shady wears full make-up, a long ponytail, and conical bra. He reportedly wants to use the footage in his video, “Just Lose It.”

“Eminem is really getting into sex and gender issues,” says the insider, who points out that the rapper recently also shot scenes for a video while buck naked — except for shoes and socks and a sock covering his private parts. It’s not certain that either the Madonna or the nude scenes will be used, says a source close to Eminem.

His spokesman had no comment.

~ We'll have to wait for the actual video to see if he's "mocking" her. If so, that would be rather stupid and ingrateful of him, after all the things Madonna said in his defense. But either way, it's sad to try and revive a career mocking other and bigger artists or imitating a look of 14 years ago.

Madge offers newlywed Britney UK honeymoon

Source: Sky News - 29 September 2004

Britney Spears and new husband Kevin Federline are coming to the UK for their honeymoon after being invited by pop queen Madonna.

Madge called the newlyweds to send her congratulations - and then offered to put the pair up in her sprawling country estate in rural Wiltshire.

The pop stars have had a special relationship since working together.

Madonna sent the happy couple a Kabbalah text as an engagement present, and Britney has kept it with her ever since.

Britney also sang a medley of Madonna songs, alongside the Queen of Pop herself and Christina Aguilera, at the MTV Music Video Awards in August last year.

The performance ensured massive publicity for all three women after they engaged in a fake lesbian kiss.

Britney's on-stage "lesbian" kiss - which was one of the showbiz fads of the year - drew the wrath of R&B superstar Beyonce Knowles.

Beyonce, a devout Christian, said she had permission from God to wear sexy clothes and strip on stage - but not to have a girl-on-girl snog.

More on possible new single *rumour*

27 September 2004

Earlier this month we reported a rumour about a possible new single. Fellow fansite DrownedMadonna adds more fuel:

"DrownedMadonna can reveal that during some European rehearsals for the Tour, Madonna rehearsed a new song but she never actually put in the show. Her management wanted her to do it for the DVD taping but Madonna didn't want to waste it in the RIT DVD. The song is an electro-pop ballad. As for now it's due in 2005. [...]

The song has been already recorded, and even if it is due in 2005, at this stage it's too early to state that it will be THE new single, although insiders say that Madonna is strongly determined to have a Number 1 single again. Apparently the song was written by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, produced by Guy Sigsworth and mixed by Stuart Price."

~ Naturally, this is all unconfirmed so far, but we keep you informed - as usual. :)

More on 'The Adventures of Abdi'

26 September 2004

On November 8th, Madonna will release her 4th childrens book 'The Adventures of Abdi'. After the success of 'The English Roses' (Sept. 2003), 'Mr. Peabody's Apples' (Nov. 2003) and 'Yakov and the 7 Thieves' (June 2004), Madonna is once again combining entertainment and morality in this Kabbalah-inspired story. Amazon has posted a different book cover than the one we posted in February. Here's what they write about the storyline:

Cover of The Adventures of Abdi

"Long, long ago, in a land far, far away, a little boy named Abdi was given a very big task -- to deliver the most precious necklace in the world to the queen.

Come along with Abdi on his fantastic journey into a magical world of ruthless rogues, savage snakes, and deadly dungeons, where he remembers the wise words of his mentor: "Everything we have been given in life is always for the best"."

Pre-order 'The Adventures of Abdi' at Amazon.

According to Amazon, the release of the fifth and final book, titled 'Lotsa de Casha', has been postponed to June 2005.

Madonna is one of UK's 'best-planned business organisations'

Source: Manchester Online - 23 September 2004

Manchester United, Lego, easyJet and pop queen Madonna have been named as the four best-planned business organisations in the UK.

A new book, Business Plans for Dummies, by Colin Barrow from the Cranfield School of Management, says the 40-something "Material Girl" is a model to other businesses.

Mr Barrow says the way she has expanded, planned, managed her image and kept her customers - the fans - satisfied is particularly praise-worthy.

"She manages her own career, chairs her own group of companies and charts her own path based on an uncanny instinct for knowing what the public wants and what it will tolerate."

Manchester United, which is reporting its full-year results on Monday, is praised for "developing an organisational culture based on winning everything it does".

Mr Barrow says this culture is now so embedded at Old Trafford that winning is "simply expected".

Parliament forbids the entry of Madonna into Egypt

Source: - 23 September 2004

Egyptian Parliament members have submitted an order to Government demanding that American singer Madonna be prohibited from entering Egyptian soil. Parliament members also included a number of other international singers on their list of people forbidden from entering Egypt and called on all their embassies abroad to not grant any of them visas into Egypt or be allowed to shoot any of their music videos on Egyptian soil.

The demand came after Madonna announced that she will celebrate the Jewish New Years in Israel and that she had converted to Judaism. On a similar note Arab Parliament member, Ahmad Al Taibi, in the Israeli Knesset turned down an invitation from Madonna to an event she held after she showed inconsideration for the sufferings of Palestinians, especially children, under the occupation of Israeli soldiers.

Ahmad had stressed that he wished the singer would try and learn from other international stars like Richard Gear and Julie Christie who came to the occupied lands and showed their support for the suffering of Palestinians.

Madonna had announced that she has changed her name, which has become a marker throughout her career, and now demands to be called by her new Jewish name Esther. The singer who has adopted the Jewish sector "Kabbalah", revealed that she has become so affected by her religion that she felt she must change her name to go with her belief. The well known Material Girl was named after her mother who died when the singer was young and said she wanted to be attached to the "energy" of a new name.

During an interview in the United States, the Catholic born singer said that since following the teachings of the Jewish mystical faith Kabbalah - whose principles she said were very "punk rock" and anti-establishment - Madonna has learned to follow new directions.

Adopted by gurus of popular culture, the Kabbalah, an ancient Hebrew mystical system of thought, embodies the mystical side of Judaism and teaches one to embrace small sparks of daily experiences and the seemingly insignificant moments of life.

Madonna stressed that she will not answer to her old name and will only accept being Called Esther from now on. One of the key changes to date has been her name, "I was named after my mother. My mother died when she was very young, of cancer, and I wanted to attach myself to another name.

~ Just thought I'd comment: while on tour, Madonna has joked herself about the press articles claiming she completely *changed* her name to Esther. She just considers it as an extra name, like she once chose Veronica as her Christian name. The press has - once again - just blown this all out of proportion. Bartie -x-

Sex bondage outfit up for auction

Source: AP Photo/Adam Butler, Hello Magazine - 23 September 2004

Christies auction house pop department employee Katherine Williams puts finishing touches on a display of a black leather bondage costume worn by Madonna for her 1992 book 'Sex' in their central London auction rooms Wednesday Sept 22, 2004. The outfit is expected to fetch between $7,200 and $11,000) in the auction to be held Wednesday Sept. 29, 2004.

Madonna's sex outfit up for auction

Comprised of a backless bra and thong connected with a network of straps, the naughty ensemble is signed by the pop star – along with an affectionate XOXOX – in a not-so-discreet spot.

Madonna: 'I've not been tamed'

Source: ContactMusic - 23 September 2004

Pop superstar Madonna is adamant marriage and motherhood haven't tamed her.

Now 46, married to director Guy Ritchie and with a daughter, Lourdes and son Rocco , the Material Girl has been performing for 20 years.

She has also found god, in the form of her interest in the Kabbalah, a mystic branch of Judaism - but the singer insists she hasn't lost her edge.

Madonna tells, "I am happier now than I've ever been in my life. I have two beautiful children and a brilliant, gorgeous husband. I have my work and I have my faith. None of that means I've lost my sense of humour or my sense of fun. If that's boring to some people, I can't tell you how much I don't care."

New tour goodies

23 September 2004

We've added some new avatars and wallpapers inspired by the re-Invention tour. Check them out in our Mad-Goodies section! We also updated the tour section with more details and pictures. Enjoy!

Worldwide re-Invention tour grosses

Source: Billboard - 23 September 2004

Billboard has reported the official numbers and figures for the re-Invention tour, which confirm that the tour was indeed sold out. Only for Slane Castle Madonna sold "only" 62.000 tickets out of the available 70.000. For the 56 shows there were almost 900.000 tickets sold, grossing almost $ 125 million! Naturally, this was the top grossing tour of 2004.

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.: $3,486,684 - 2 shows - 26,788 attendance
6. New York, New York: $12,674,925 - 6 shows - 88,625 attendance
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: $3,450,874 - 2 shows - 25,627 attendance
13. Fort Lauderdale/Sunrise, Fla.: $3,834,522 - 2 shows - 28,208 attendance
14. Miami, Fla.: $4,145,760 - 2 shows - 30,580 attendance
Totals for North American leg: 39 shows reported to Billboard - $79,500,054 - 553,505 tickets

1. Manchester, England: $5,136,114 - 2 shows - 27,320 attendance
2. London, England: $6,356,207 - 2 shows - 34,087 attendance
3. London, England: $9,809,717 - 4 shows - 45,267 attendance
4. Meath, Ireland: $6,575,339 - 1 show - 62,275 (only non-sellout date)
5. Paris, France: $7.357,529 - 4 shows - 68,000 attendance
6. Arnhem, Nethlerlands: $6,759,661 - 2 shows - 73,300 attendance
7. Lisbon, Portugal: $3,286,166 - 2 shows - 33,460 attendance
Totals for European leg: 17 shows reported to Billboard - $45,280,733 - 343,709 tickets

WORLDWIDE TOTAL: $ 124,780,078 - 56 dates - 897,214 tickets

In Israel, Madonna finds little solitude

Source: New York Times - 20 September 2004

Madonna wanted to see Israel, and Israelis yearned to see Madonna. But in the end, each side managed only a glimpse of the other.

Madonna came to Israel with some 2,000 fellow followers of cabala, a form of Jewish mysticism, and spent most of her five days here holed up in the luxury David Inter-Continental Hotel, across the street from the Tel Aviv beachfront.

Her planned tour of Jewish holy sites was curtailed, most notably in the early hours of Sunday, when her heavily guarded convoy pulled into the stone plaza near the Western Wall in Jerusalem around 1:30 a.m.
Madonna at the tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag

Despite the hour, a large gathering of Jewish worshipers were taking part in prayers linked to the Jewish New Year, which fell last week. In addition, several dozen photographers were prowling the grounds. Madonna looked out the darkened windows of her van for several minutes as the crowd gathered around. The van then drove off without Madonna's ever opening the door.

Secular Israelis have been starved for big-name international acts in recent years and were ready to embrace Madonna, who sang here in 1993.

But she came to pray, not to perform. She and her husband, the British filmmaker Guy Ritchie, took part in cabala sessions in the hotel's conference room, which was converted into a synagogue, with segregated men's and women's sections.

Madonna's only formal public appearance came Sunday night, when the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Center, which organized the trip, staged a children's program at the hotel that featured Jewish and Arab youths and drew more than 1,000 guests, including Israeli government officials.

"I was a bit hesitant to come here after seeing so many news reports about terrorist attacks," said Madonna, wearing a low-cut dress with a black and white leopard print. "I realize now that it is no more dangerous to be here than it is to be in New York."

Madonna has been exploring cabala since 1997 and now dresses and often performs with symbols of Judaism and cabala. She sometimes wears a Jewish star and often has a red thread on her wrist, a cabala trademark intended to ward off the evil eye.

When she visited a Tel Aviv restaurant, she wore a glittery necklace with a large letter E, apparently a reference to her recent adaptation of the biblical Jewish name Esther.

But Madonna said she was not representing a religion. "I'm here as a student of cabala,'' she said. "A cabalist sees the world as a unified whole. A cabalist asks why. A cabalist believes that he or she has the responsibility to make the world a better place."

The Israeli government seized on the singer's visit for tourism promotion, and Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra presented her with a Byzantine-era oil lamp and a coin on Sunday. Earlier he had suggested that it would be helpful if Madonna would pose for a picture with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, though there was no sign that this materialized.

Madonna arrived in Israel on Wednesday night, at the beginning of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and organizers had announced planned visits to several religious shrines. But whenever she tried to venture out, she found herself surrounded.

After the Friday night dinner in Tel Aviv, two of her bodyguards were arrested after scuffling with and injuring two photographers.

Just after midnight Saturday, she made a pilgrimage to the Jerusalem grave site of the cabalist sage Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag.

Madonna and her husband, with police and photographers in tow, spent more than an hour inside the stone mausoleum. She prayed, chanted and placed candles on the tomb, and shortly before leaving wiped tears from her eyes.

Afterward, she made her abbreviated trip to the Western Wall, the holiest site for Jewish prayer. Other planned visits, including a trip to the tomb of the biblical matriarch Rachel, which is in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem in the West Bank, never took place.

While Madonna has studied cabala for seven years, there are still plenty of skeptics questioning her commitment to a form of study traditionally reserved for men over 40 who have mastered the Torah and the Talmud.

"It is forbidden to teach a non-Jew cabala," Yitzhak Kadouri, a leading cabalist, recently told the Israeli newspaper Maariv.

But the Kabbalah Center says the cabala is open to all.

Madonna speeches for peace

Source: Jerusalem Post; picture courtesy of AP - 20 September 2004

Madonna was the center of attention at Sunday night's Spirituality For Kids (SFK) in Israel foundation gala dinner, held at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv.

Madonna reaches out to children as she leaves the stage after her speech

The guest of honor, however, tried to move the focus to the Kabbalah Center-sponsored foundation. Madonna was toasted by everyone from Karen and Michael Berg, leaders of the US Kabbalah Center, via a recorded message, to her guru, Eitan Yardeni, to the night's host, TV personality Dan Shilon. After a standing ovation, Madonna took the microphone and presented a prepared speech promoting SFK.

"We're teaching children about the laws of cause and effect. We're teaching them that for every action there's a reaction. We're teaching them the concept of responsibility," read the singer, who is the mother of two. "We teach children what we're trying to learn as adults. The difference is children are more open, they are more alive, they are more pure, and they do not see the world in a fragmented way. They are closer to God."

She went on: "When a child sees another child they just want to play. They're not thinking, 'Oh, he's Muslim' or 'she's a Jew.' They do not judge one another by the color of their skin or the style of their headdress. It's adults that put these ideas into children's heads."

Madonna also made reference to the Kabbalah Center's holiday conference, noting that despite the media attention she has garnered here, she is really just like everyone else. "I am not here representing a religion or any religious group. I'm here as a student of Kabbala," said the superstar. Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra told The Jerusalem Post that he read that the Kabbalah Center has 22 million supporters. "That's more Jews than there are in the world. If all these people are sympathizing with Israel and the Jews then I am happy."

Her fellow enthusiasts say her star status hasn't detracted from the spirituality of the holiday get-together. The singer famous for her overtly sexual and controversial antics is described by fellow Kabbalah students as "modest" and "a serious student." "Everyone's the same here, Madonna hasn't been a distraction," said Mezada Petilon of the Manhattan center.

"Madonna's real. She is into the stuff like the rest of us," said Don Ellis, a Christian from Texas who got hooked on Kabbalah two years ago after hearing the CD Power of Kabbala. "She just has a bigger name than the rest of us."

While the Kabbalah Center gathering was promoted as spiritual, there was also a commercial aspect. At booths set up in the lobby, Kabbala-inspired goods such as backpacks, jewelry, stuffed dolls, and children's clothing all emblazoned with one of the 72 names of God were on sale. They were even tequila shot glasses (NIS 125 each) with one of God's names on them. "We want to have more things relating to Kabbala. They help us with our transformation, with developing a change from within," said Rachel Roded, of the LA center.

"You wouldn't understand, it's hard to explain to you," Ellis said of the wide variety of goods on sale. The fact that the Catholic-bred Madonna is the symbol of the Kabbalah Center hasn't seem to bother anyone either. "I think it's inspiring that people of all religions are here because that's what will bring peace," said 28-year-old Petilon.

As for the pop icon herself, she said, "In the past four days, I have met people from all over the world... held hands, sung, danced, and prayed with Sufis, Christians, Jews, and Muslims. We all have one thing in common. We want to create peace in the world. We want to put an end to chaos and suffering but most of all we want to put an end to hatred for no reason. That is why I am here."

Singers Ahinoam Nini and Amal Murkus, a Palestinian, performed John Lennon's song Imagine - the song Madonna ended each of her concerts with during her latest "Reinvention" tour. Tickets to the gala were much sought after and many journalists and fans waited outside the door.

Among the guests who did get in were many local TV, theater, and movie stars who came to see their idol. Madonna told Sunday night's crowd - who payed $500 per person to attend the gala - that she was hesitant to come to Israel but is happy she did. "I'd like to say how happy I am to be back in Israel. I promise not to stay away for another 10 years," said the singer, who was last in town for a 1993 concert.

"To be perfectly honest, I was a bit hesitant to come here after seeing so many news reports about terrorist attacks and reading travel warnings about how dangerous it is for Americans here. I realize now it's no more dangerous to be here than in New York. I feel very safe and welcome. The most dangerous thing I've encountered here are the very naughty paparazzi waiting outside my hotel."

Said Ezra: "It's very important to Israel when a personality like Madonna comes here. I hope other people will follow her example and come too."

Madonna visits Western Wall in the middle of the night

Source: SouthFlorida - 20 September 2004

Pop star Madonna is so desperate to avoid being mobbed by photographers during her spiritual quest to Israel, she visited Judaism's sacred Western Wall in the middle of the night.

The Material Girl -- who has joined 2,000 fellow followers of the Kabbalah to celebrate the start of the Jewish New Year -- was driven to the historical site early Sunday morning, after making a midnight pilgrimage to a Jerusalem cemetery.

But Madonna remained inside her car when they arrived at the Western Wall, where the biblical temples once stood, and admired the spectacle from afar -- much to the disappointment of many visitors.

"Why did she not come out of the car? We were waiting for her," said Hadass Chen, who made the trip to see the singer. "You don't feel the vibe if you don't touch the wall."

The singer -- who is an avid follower of the mystical Jewish offshoot -- paid homage to Kabbalist sage Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag with her film director husband Guy Ritchie at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery, and held a ceremony at his grave, before heading off to the Western Wall.

Nothing phony about Madonna's spiritual journey

Source: Chicago Sun-Times - 20 September 2004

Leave Madonna alone.
You didn't like her when she was emphasizing materialism.
You called her a hedonist.
You didn't like her when she was flaunting her sexuality.
You called her a slut.
You didn't like it when she became a disciplined practitioner of yoga.
You called her a poseur.

And now that she's found what, to me at least, appears to be a serious spiritual discipline that seems to have transformed her into a more serious, modest and generous mother, wife and entrepreneur, you call her an opportunist.
You say she's faking it.

Will Madonna forever be damned by the sins of her past, incapable of genuine transformation and beyond redemption?

It's as if her interest in Kabbalah, the esoteric Jewish mystical tradition that teaches, among many things, that humans can overcome death and illness by the way they behave and think, somehow detracts from or sullies the tradition itself. As if a single person could diminish such ancient, enduring wisdom.

Even if Madonna's approach to Kabbalah is more neo-mystical than traditional, how is that a bad thing for anyone besides, perhaps, herself? And who, exactly, is she hurting by wearing a piece of red string around her wrist and spending time studying spiritual texts?

Grew up Roman Catholic

This week, Madonna and her family have traveled to Israel during the Jewish High Holy Days to attend the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Center's International Congress with 2,000 other Kabbalah enthusiasts. She arrived Wednesday, on the eve of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

It's a visit that has been almost universally mocked by the media and has managed to unite some of Israel's Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders in their condemnation of the pop star's presence in their troubled land. Because they don't have enough to worry about already.
The Kabbalah is considered an extremely serious -- some even say dangerous -- discipline. Historically, women were forbidden to study it, and men had to be at least 40 years old and married with children to begin their Kabbalistic practice. There are even tales of students who went insane studying its main text, the Zohar, which first appeared written in Aramaic in 14th-century Spain.

Reportedly, Madonna and others who traveled to Israel for the Kabbalah Center's congress plan to visit Jerusalem's Western Wall; the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who is believed to be the author of the Zohar; and the tomb of the Matriarch Rachel. Before it is cut into individual pieces, the red string she and other Kabbalah practitioners wear around their wrists is wound around Rachel's tomb. The red bracelet is supposed to ward off stink eye, or envious stares.

Most traditional Kabbalists in Israel and elsewhere insist that Kabbalah is not supposed to be taught to non-Jews. So some would say Madonna really has no business studying Kabbalah in the first place.

She was reared Roman Catholic. I haven't heard her give her spirituality a particular religious label lately, so I don't know if she still considers herself a Christian. But I haven't heard her say she's converted to Judaism, either.

Perhaps it would have been more acceptable if she had embraced Christian mysticism, or traditional Catholicism, instead of Kabbalah. But somehow I think she would be condemned no matter what path she chose.

Such is the curse of celebrity.

Why Esther?

Madonna has been criticized for allegedly making herself out to be an ersatz poster child for Kabbalah. But I have not read or heard her say that she is any kind of Kabbalah expert.

Instead, she presents herself as an enthusiastic student who is, at worst, evangelical about sharing lessons that have been helpful to her with others.

"My Kabbalah teacher, one of them, used to say to me, 'When in doubt, act like God.' And then you think, well, what does that mean? You know, it's like -- describe God. God would be compassionate. Unconditional. All-giving. All-loving. So, when in doubt, behave that way. You'll never go wrong," Madonna told Cynthia McFadden of ABC News in a television interview that aired in June.

"I'm getting better. I mean, I'm a very judgmental person. I mean, I always have been. And, you know, I see people, I put labels on them, I put them in boxes. They behave badly and I immediately want to say they're a jerk. But in Kabbalah, you learn that, you know, you never know, you never know about people," the 46-year-old singer said.

What, exactly, is controversial or scandalous about a statement like that? She sounds to me like someone who is trying to clean up her act, an example that all of us would benefit from following, whether we buy into Kabbalah -- her version or someone else's -- as a spiritual path or not.

As for the oft-reported bit about her changing her name to Esther, she explains it this way: "Well, let's say -- I don't go by the name of Esther. But, yes, that is my Hebrew name. Yep."I can understand this. When I studied French in college, my French name was Chantal. Cathleen sounded funny when pronounced in French. I didn't change my name, I just used a different name that made more sense while I was studying.

Madonna told McFadden that she chose the name Esther herself, and explained why. "I was named after my mother. My mother died when she was very young, of cancer," the singer said. "In the metaphysical world, I wanted to attach myself to another name. So -- and this is in no way a negation of who my mother is. So, I read about all the women in the Old Testament. And I loved the story of Queen Esther. She saved the Jews from annihilation."

If Madonna is guilty of anything, it may be Jewish envy. And I can understand that, being a fan of Judaism myself.

Out to make the world better

I'm not Jewish, but as I sat through my first Rosh Hashana service Wednesday night, I was transported and inspired by the spiritual beauty unfolding before me in the liturgy and Scripture.

I don't know from Hebrew, but as the congregation lifted their voices to sing Hash-kiveynu Adonia, Eloheynu l'shalom ... the words of an evening prayer, I found myself attempting to join them. There's something implicitly edifying about singing praises to God, of being part of a tradition -- even for a moment, even if it's not your own -- with such estimable, ancient roots.

Madonna seems to be attracted to the same thing.

After years of what she admits was a self-centered existence, she says she wants to learn, to make herself more godly and the world around her a little bit better.

Would that we were all guilty of that.

Ultra-Orthodox prevent Madonna from visiting Western Wall

Source: Maariv International; picture courtesy of AFP - 19 September 2004

Since landing in Israel to attend a Kabalah conference, mega-star singer Madonna has managed to stir quite a bit of commotion. Last night, hundreds of ultra-Orhotox Jews prevented her from visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Madonna visits Cabbalist Rabbi Ashlag's tomb in a Jerusalem cemetery

While approaching the area, her convoy was surrounded by hundreds of Orthodox men who chanted "Shabbis" (Sabbath in Yiddish). Police did not take any chances and refused to allow her passage. Thousands of religious Jews pray at the Wall every night ahead of Yom Kippur (day of fasting to repent sins).

Madonna’s private Boeing 737-800 arrived in Israel on the eve of Rosh Hashana (Jewish new year). She was then escorted to the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv.

The majority of her visit is defined as private, but tonight she is expected to take part and perhaps even deliver an address before an official event of the “Children’s Spirituality Fund”, which is to take place at her hotel.

Over 2,400 people, including Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie, attended Sabbath prayers. She was also present during Torah reading, the blowing of the Shofar and her spiritual mentor’s lecture.

On Friday, the conference’s participants performed the ritual of Tashlich, but Madonna or Esther (her Kabalah name) did not take part. However, her husband, Ritchie, joined the worshipers.

According to the organizers of the event, Madonna’s presence isn’t causing a great deal of commotion as expected. Fellow conference participants are acting as usual while organizers insisted there have not been any special problems.

However, during a visit to a Tel Aviv restaurant, a brawl erupted between Madonna’s bodyguards and several paparazzi photographers who tried to get close. As a result, several photographers sustained light injuries and were evacuated to a Tel Aviv hospital for further treatment.

Madonna: Israel is as safe as New York

Source: Washington Times; picture courtesy of Reuters - 19 September 2004

Pop-star Madonna said Sunday she found Israel just as dangerous as New York.

Madonna arrived Wednesday night to celebrate the Jewish New Year and study Kabala (Jewish mysticism) in a hotel opposite the Dofinarium, site of one of the worst intifada attacks.

Madonna speaks at the Kabbalah International Conference in Tel Aviv

Speaking at a gala event Sunday evening Madonna attributed her hesitation to come to Israel to "so many news reports about terror attacks" and State Department travel warnings.

"I realize now that it is no more dangerous to be here than it is to be in New York," she said.

Madonna benefited from special security precautions: bodyguards surrounded her and clashed with photographers, the hotel was closed to people who were not its guests, and a police motorcade accompanied her.

Her complaint was about the paparazzi whom she claimed were "naughty."

At Sunday's gala event, an Israeli children's choir and a Palestinian sang to more than 1,000 people and Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra praised Madonna for having come to Israel.

The Tourism Ministry was hoping her visit would boost Israel's image as a tourist destination.

Madonna fends off fans and protesters to finish her retreat

Source: The Independant; picture courtesy of AP - 19 September 2004

Madonna, the Catholic pop diva turned Jewish mystic, ended a five-day retreat last night with 2,000 fellow searchers in the comfort of a five-star Tel-Aviv hotel. She was flying home to London with her film-director husband, Guy Ritchie, in their private jet.

In one of her few forays outside the seafront David Intercontinental, Madonna made a midnight pilgrimage at the close of the Jewish New Year on Saturday to the tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag. The Polish-born sage, author of Sulam, a commentary on the Zohar, the kabbalistic "Book of Splendour," died in 1954.

Madonna prays inside the tomb of Kabbalist Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag

Madonna, sporting a diamond-encrusted letter E for Esther, her new name, meditated inside the limestone mausoleum for more than an hour, circling the grave, praying, chanting and lighting candles. The singer, her wrist draped in a red cord against the evil eye, wiped tears from her eyes.

From the Givat Shaul cemetery at the entrance to Jerusalem, Madonna drove to the Western Wall. By arriving late at night, she had hoped to avoid publicity, but the paparazzi were waiting - and refused to be shooed away with an imperious wave.

Madonna fretted inside her armour-plated limousine on the edge of the plaza, then drove off under heavy security. Bodyguards kept the photographers at bay, but there was no repeat of a brawl on Friday night when they came to blows and had to be separated by police.

Contrary to advance reports, she did not visit Rachel's Tomb, where barren women pray for fertility, on the outskirts of the besieged West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Pro-Palestinian protesters had planned to greet her with "Don't Cry for Me, Palestina". They mingled instead with fans gathered outside the David for last night's gala finale of the five-day Kabbalah fest.

Awe-struck local media reported that their royal suite boasted a specially built yoga room, its own coffee machine, crates of holy mineral water and a chef. At the opening ceremony on Wednesday night, Ritchie was said to have danced while embracing a Torah scroll.

"I am very enthusiastic about Israel," Madonna told one of the local participants at last night's gala. "I thought that everyone here would be extreme and fighting. I love the country and the great spirituality it has." Not a word to the Palestinians.

Paparazzi Madonna's only fear

Source: The Australian; picture courtesy of Reuters - 19 September 2004

US pop diva Madonna today said paparazzi and not Palestinian suicide bombers had been her only fear during a four-day visit to Israel. "I would like to emphasise that I felt very safe and very welcome," she said at a gala reception in Tel Aviv following her much publicised spiritual retreat.

"The most dangerous thing that I encountered were very naughty paparazzi in front of my hotel," she said, alluding to yet another bust-up between her bodyguards and press photographers.

Madonna speaks at the Kabbalah International Conference in Tel Aviv

The weekend incident outside Madonna's hotel on Tel Aviv's Mediterranean seafront led to two of her bodyguards being arrested and two photographers being taken to hospital. The Material Girl, a keen aficionado of the ancient Jewish mystical tradition known as Kabbalah, arrived in Israel last week for a three-day retreat, which began with a traditional blessing ceremony to welcome in the Jewish new year.

Madonna turned to Kabbalah in 1997 after coming 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.

Two months ago, she took the Hebrew name Esther and is now reportedly observing the Jewish sabbath, although she has not converted to Judaism.

New single? BS video and BA Tour on DVD? *rumour*

18 September 2004

David Figueiredo from MIR reports the following rumours:

"Warner in the US is trying very hard to rush out a new single ... my source would not say if it's Imagine or something else ... but just said for me to be patient and that if it does happen that I would be very happy ... ultimately the decision to release it is Madonna's ... but Warner is trying to push for it to go ahead.

Also, reports are that several remixers have already completed mixes for:
* The full Bedtime Story video as a separate video "extra" on the DVD
* The Blond Ambition Tour on DVD"

Madonna ends Re-Invention Tour on high note

Source: Ray Waddell; thanx to Jim Radenhaus from MIR - 18 September 2004

Madonna wrapped her Reinvention tour [Sept. 14] with the second of two sellouts at the Pavilhao Atlantico in Lisbon, Portugal. The tour, destined to be the top-grossing trek of 2004, grossed $124.5 million and played to 880,000 people, according to producers.

The tour was produced worldwide by Clear Channel Entertainment's touring division.

"Madonna's Reinvention tour was a brilliant success on every level," Arthur Fogel, president of CCE Touring, tells

Madonna was particularly hot in the U.K, where she grossed $9.8 million from four sellouts at Wembley Arena in London, $6.3 million from two sellouts at Earls Court in London and $5.1 million from two sellouts at the Manchester Evening News in Manchester, England.

Reinvention's North American run was topped by six sellouts at New York's Madison Square Garden that grossed $12.7 million; she also took in $7.9 million from four sellouts at the United Center in Chicago, $7 million from two sellouts at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, $7 million from three sellouts at the Forum in L.A. and $6.4 million from four sellouts at the Centrum in Worcester, Mass.

English Roses clothing & dolls features on Today Show

Source: - 17 September 2004

Madonna fans be sure to tune in to NBC's The Today Show on Friday September 17th! Steven Cojocaru will be unveiling Madonna's new line of English Roses Girls Clothing, Raincoats, Tea Sets & Tea's, and Jewelry. The English Roses line is designed by Madonna and based off of her bestselling children's book.

Madonna thanks fans for attending tour

17 September 2004

Madonna's official site has been updated. Instead of the tour picture and schedule, the homepage features a dreamy picture of the tour book and a thank-you message from Madonna: "Madonna thanks all of you who attended her re-invention tour and proved once again that music makes the people come together."

There's also a quote from John Lennon's Imagine next to the 'register to vote'-button. Let's hope our American friends will take her advise in November... There's a link to a nice new Re-Invention Tour section, including the setlist, the tour schedule, merchandise, some pix, wallpapers and reviews.

Click here to visit update

Madonna visits Israel on spiritual quest

Source: CNN - 16 September 2004

Israel was abuzz with excitement Wednesday over the arrival of Madonna, its biggest celebrity visitor in years.

The pop star came to the Holy Land on a spiritual quest, including visits to the graves of revered rabbinical sages. Yet some were perplexed by the raunchy diva's interest in the esoteric Jewish mysticism called cabala or Kabbalah, and rabbis said she had no business studying holy texts.

Raised a Roman Catholic, Madonna has adopted the Hebrew name Esther, wears a red thread on her wrist to ward off the evil eye and reportedly refuses to perform on the Jewish Sabbath. She also has incorporated Jewish symbols into some of her music videos, much to the consternation of religious leaders.

The organization hosting her in Israel ordered news reporters to wear white clothes and not to take notes when covering Madonna's appearances during the New Year's holiday, or Rosh Hashanah.

Madonna attending a Kabbalah conference in Tel Aviv

"This is entertainment, not Judaism," said Uri Orbach, a popular talk-radio host and Orthodox Jew. "I think the general public will celebrate this, but the religious public will be indifferent."

Madonna and friends flew into Tel Aviv Wednesday evening on a private jet and drove straight to their downtown hotel in a convoy of limousines escorted by police. They did not speak to journalists, who were kept well away from the celebrities.

Fashion designer Donna Karan and Marla Maples, an ex-wife of Donald Trump, were other celebrities among some 2,000 students from 22 countries, according to the Kabbalah Center, sponsor of the trip. The Los Angeles-based center teaches Jewish mysticism as a spiritual tool regardless of religion.

Liora Goldenberg-Stern, a culture writer at the Maariv newspaper, said Madonna would be welcomed by Tel Aviv's rich and famous, which has embraced cabala. "It's a social thing, very trendy," she said.

Madonna's picture appeared on the Maariv back page, while the mass circulation Yediot Ahronot announced the visit on the front page.

Inside Yediot, a half-page spread included a photo of Madonna's luxury hotel suite as well as the special holiday meal she would be eating, including salmon mousse, steak and chicken in mustard sauce and honey cake.

Madonna was not scheduled to perform during the five-day visit. Earlier this year, she canceled three Israel concerts, citing security concerns after Israel assassinated the leader of the Hamas militant group.

Israeli police spokesman Gil Kleiman said more than 1,000 officers were being deployed to protect the Kabbalah delegation, although no special precautions were being taken for Madonna, who has a private security detail.

On Sunday, Israeli Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra is expected to give Madonna an ancient oil lamp and a coin from the Byzantine period. The ministry also hopes to use images of Madonna to promote the country abroad.

But not everyone was so welcoming. A small group of peace activists demonstrated at Rachel's Tomb in the West Bank -- one of the stops on Madonna's itinerary -- to draw attention to the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli military rule.

"I hope she's aware of where she is going," said Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, one of the protesters.

The itinerary also includes stops at the Western Wall in Jerusalem; the northern city of Safed, a center of Kabbalah; Rachel's Tomb, the traditional burial place of the biblical matriarch; and the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, author of the Zohar, the core text of Kabbalah.

Rabbi Yaakov Silber of the Merkaz Harav Jewish seminary in Jerusalem said it was hard to imagine a rabbi would be willing to teach Madonna.

He said religious study frowns upon raunchy, materialistic values the singer has promoted in the past. "Maybe she has changed," he said.

Palestinians protest against Madonna's visit

Source: New Kerala - 16 September 2004

Israel might be preparing to honour Madonna for her devotion to Kabbalah, the cult which has its roots in Jewish scriptures, but the pop singer's visit to the country for a five-day spiritual fest for the Jewish New Year, which began last night, is already marred by controversies.

According to the Telegraph, Madonna's pilgrimage has aroused anger amongst the Palestinians ,who have accused Madonna of neglecting their plight, as well as the Jews who find her 'religiously insensitive'.

A woman protests against Madonna's visit

The protestants, reports the paper are particularly enraged about Madonna's visit to Rachel's Tomb, the Bethlehem shrine where a security barrier is being erected for Madge's protection.

This has angered the Palestinians living in the area, who believe that the barrier is a mere guise being used by the Israeli authorities to capture their land and legitimise the occupation.

"Rachel's Tomb has become a symbol of our misery. What they are doing when they come here to the tomb is endorsing the misery," Michel Nasser, a Palestinian leader of Bethlehem's Christian community, was quoted by the paper as saying.

Heightened security for Madonna's Tel Aviv spiritual retreat

Source: AFP - 16 September 2004

Security was watertight in and around the hotel where American star Madonna kicked off a three-day spiritual retreat cum Jewish New Year celebration in Tel Aviv.

Hundreds of identification badge-clad Jewish followers of the ancient mystical tradition known as Kabbalah had also gathered at the David Intercontinental hotel to take part in the Roshashan festivities, quite at ease with the celebrity's appearance.

"It's OK, same to me, I'm here to rejoice," said Mikhail, a Russian man who recently immigrated to Israel.

Madonna attending a Kabbalah conference in Tel Aviv

Iris, a 35-year-old Israeli woman, said Madonna's presence attested to "the Kabbalah's great attraction."

"One doesn't have to be a Jew to embrace Kabbalah which is about knowledge and making the world a better place," she said.

Reporters could hardly get a glimpse of the once self-proclaimed Material Girl owing to an impenetrable security cordon, but a lucky few managed to attend part of the celebrations which started without Madonna's attendance.

Renowned American Kabbalahists delivered recorded speeches, broadcast on large video screens, calling for world peace and peace of the mind and simultaneously translated in Hebrew, Spanish and Arabic to a joyful audience.

Men and women, sitting apart in a large conference room serving as a synagogue, applauded in unison at the end of the feed.

They went on chanting a peace song that mixed Hebrew and Arabic and then stood up clapping and shaking their left hands up in the air to repel evil.

"It's like imagining you're throwing away a ball of fire which represents negative energy or evil," explained Iris.

Men donning white clothes stepped up on stage and danced rapt and entranced with a Muslim sheikh in their midst.

Organizers from the Kabbalah Center explained that the dress code was commanded by religious reasons, although most women at the event -- most of them American and Latin American -- had opted for colorful evening gowns.

Madonna is due to visit several Jewish religious sites after her Tel Aviv retreat, including Rachel's Tomb in the southern West Bank town of Bethlehem.

A group of Israeli pacifists urged the superstar in an open letter Tuesday to stay clear of any controversial visits as it underscored the need to understand the plight of the Palestinians living under Israel's occupation.

"This visit takes you to the heart of occupied territory in Bethlehem: a closed-off prison, a ghetto, whose civilians now have no work, no freedom, no life," said a statement by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

"Are you being used to legitimize the occupation of Palestine? Are you being exploited, without your full awareness? Has your wish to bring peace been co-opted by other forces?" it added.

Israel's tourism ministry has vowed to use Madonna's visit to boost tourism. "Madonna's visit to Israel is very important for promoting tourism to Israel ... the tourism ministry intends to use her visit to promote Israel as a tourist destination," it said in a statement.

Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra is set to present Madonna with an antique oil lamp and a coin from the Byzantine era at a ceremony Sunday in Tel Aviv, the statement also said.

Prominent American fashion designer Donna Karan, who joined Madonna in her Israel tour, will also receive a gift from the ministry.

Madonna turned to Kabbalah in 1997 after coming 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, visualization and positive thinking.

Two months ago, she took the Hebrew name Esther and is now reportedly observing the Jewish Sabbath.

Re-Invention picture galleries

16 September 2004

A few days ago we presented our picture gallery for the re-Invention show in Paris Bercy. We have now added two galleries for the first show in Arnhem, Holland. Our personal photographer Marcin had a great general view from his 1st category seats that night and took a bunch of great pictures, some close-ups and some overviews.


People that were lucky enough to be in the pits that night, might be able to spot themselves! Click here for gallery I (from The Beast Within till Lament) and gallery II (from Bedtime Story till Holiday). Enjoy!

On Tour with Madonna: Mike McKnight and MOTU

15 September 2004

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.

Check for the complete interview.

Keyboards on the Re-Invention Tour

Source: - 15 September 2004

When Madonna goes on tour, it’s news. E! News Live will keep you updated on Mads’ devotion to Kabbalah and the sometimes bizarre related tidbits — like her adoption of the name Esther for the purposes of her studies — or the Swear Jar she's said to keep backstage to collect fines from anyone using profanity in her presence (this interview would've been spendy had Ms. M been within earshot).

A Madonna tour is news not just for the celebrity dirt factor, the predictably controversial stage imagery, or the staggering sums of money the tour spends and earns. No. When Madonna goes out, she goes big. Big stage sets, big video, big lighting, and, most importantly, big talent in the band.

Rumored to be her farewell to touring, the Re-Invention Tour finds the keyboard lineup intact from the last tour: Marcus Brown is the principal keyboardist. Musical director Stuart Price divides his time onstage between playing bass guitar and sculpting synth sounds.

Master of Everything Mike McKnight occupies what might be the hottest seat in the touring sphere as the guy who makes it all run and plays supplementary keyboard parts from his sub-stage bunker.

After tussling with a security crew that would’ve done Tom Ridge proud (at one point a guard hassled McKnight because his badge didn’t entitle him to escort us anywhere), we sat down with Brown, McKnight, and keyboard tech Peter Wiltz.

Check for the complete interview.

Madonna / Radio Zet Promotion

Source: - 15 September 2004

The world's Queen of Pop, Madonna, is going to feature in the biggest ever promotion campaign, focussed on one artist, in central Europe.

Madonna will promote Radio Zet, a Polish national commercial station, owned by a consortium owned by Polish shareholders, the French Lagardere Group and Advent International.

In a TV spot, based on one of her hits, Madonna will appear alongside Poland's leading actor Zbigniew Zamachowski, internationally known for his leading role in Kieslowski's 'White (Three Colours/Trois Couleurs)'.

Says Radio Zet president & program director Robert Kozyra: 'Madonna is a very powerful brand in the world and Radio Zet is a very powerful brand in Poland. This symbiosis will bring massive results for both of us.'

The campaign will start Monday September 13 on all national TV channels in Poland, in the best selling glossy magazines, on billboards and on Radio Zet itself.

Kozyra adds: 'From the moment the news of the campaign broke in Poland, we have been bombarded with interest from both Polish and international media and of course from ordinary Poles.'

Preparations for the campaign have taken 10 months. More than 100 people in Europe and America were working on the campaign,which will be seen by Poland's 38 mln population.

~ Madonna wasn't involved in the making of the commercial. It's only a virtual remake of the Music video, in which Ali G is replaced by a Polish actor.

Tour documentary to premiere in Cannes

15 September 2004

The film crew that has recorded some re-Invention shows for the upcoming documentary has confirmed to us that the movie will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. It will be the second Madonna film that premieres in Cannes.

On May 13th, 1991 Truth Or Dare also opened at the festival (under the European title 'In Bed With Madonna'). The 58th Cannes Film Festival will take place in Cannes, France from May 11th till May 22nd, 2005.

Madonna at the 1991 Cannes Festival

Madonna to arrive in Israel today

Source: Jerusalem Post - 15 September 2004

After all the media hype and the on-again, off-again announcements, megastar singer Madonna is finally scheduled to arrive in Israel on Wednesday, just in time to celebrate Rosh Hashana.

If all goes according to plan, Madonna, who is participating in the international congress of the Kabbalah Center, will be accompanied by members of her family, and will be surrounded by some 2,000 participants from 22 countries.

The Kabbalah Center has booked approximately 1,200 hotel rooms in Tel Aviv and Tiberias for the event.

On Wednesday, Madonna is due to visit Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, where a left-wing women's group will hold a vigil opposing her presence in "occupied territory."

Hundreds of Kabbalah enthusiasts are expected to join Madonna at Rachel's Tomb, the traditional burial place of the biblical matriarch.

Madonna's PR agency, Arad Communications, has requested that journalists covering events with Madonna wear white and not bring writing utensils or cameras to the press conference.
Madonna also asked Jews not to violate the High Holy Days to see her, and she specifically requested non-Jewish photographers.

Heading the American delegation is the center's Rabbi Phillip Berg, who has served as Madonna's spiritual guru during her well-publicized Kabbalah studies.

The Web site Israel 21c is reporting that Madonna will be the main attraction at an event called Spirituality for Kids, set to take place next Sunday. The 45-year-old singer, along with husband Guy Ritchie and other high-profile American celebrities, will join Israeli political leaders including Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom as part of a Kabbalah learning retreat in Tel Aviv over the High Holy Days, the Kabbalah Center announced.

"We need to honor these heroic and courageous children. A gathering of this magnitude can have the power to diminish the volatile gap between Israeli and Arab communities to help the people recognize that love is stronger than hate and that peace is the focus for the future," said Berg in a press release.

The event will include speeches from Madonna, Elies Jabol – a Christian Arab who is the head of House and Hope and peace agreement leader in the Middle East – Sufi Sheikh Manasra, and Druse Sheikh Abulrocan.

Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra, who is also the interim minister for internal security, plans to meet the diva in the former capacity, but also has a good excuse to meet her in the latter, given that the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv, where she is booked to stay in the 24th-floor presidential suite, will be saturated with security personnel.

In an interview with Army Radio on Tuesday, Ezra said that it would not hurt if the singer, who is to spend five days in Israel, were to be photographed with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, but did not know whether the schedules of the prime minister and the material girl would permit it.

The key beneficiaries in the hotel industry will be the David Intercontinental and Dan Panorama in Tel Aviv and the Galei Kinneret and Hof Gai in Tiberias. Most of the participants in the congress will be in Israel for 12 days.

Israelis who wants to swell the ranks of the congress participants can attend two days of services and eat 10 meals at the David Intercontinental for NIS 4,000. Accommodation is not included.

Catholic-born Madonna was last in Israel in 1993 for a concert appearance. She came to Jerusalem, spent less than an hour in her luxury suite at the King David Hotel, and immediately headed for Tel Aviv.

Jewish photographers banned from Israel pelgrimage

Source: AFP - 15 September 2004

Organisers of Madonna's spiritual retreat to Israel requested that Jewish photographers do not cover her visit so they don't break religious laws and that all journalists wear white.

The self-proclaimed Material Girl, a keen afficionado of the ancient Jewish mystical tradition known Kabbalah, is due in Israel Wednesday for a three-day retreat which begins with a traditional blessing ceremony to welcome in the New Year.

But organisers from the Kabbalah Centre have made clear they will not accept any photographers of Jewish origin in order not to encourage Jews to break a religious edict banning work over the holiday, a spokesman said.

Jewish reporters may attend the ceremony but they will not be allowed to write inside the synagogue set up inside Madonna's Tel Aviv hotel.

And any journalist wanting to attend any of the events must be dressed in white.

"The Kabbalah Centre does not want (Jewish photographers) to do anything which will break the religious rules over the holidays," spokesman Lior Horev told AFP.

Commenting on the dress code, Horev said "all Kabalah Centre members would be wearing white for traditional religious reasons" and organisers did not want the media to stand out by wearing other coloured-clothes.

Madonna turned to Kabbalah in 1997 after coming 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.

Two months ago, she took the Hebrew name Esther and is now reportedly observing the Jewish sabbath.

Madonna wraps up "Re-Invention tour" in Portugal

Source: AFP - 15 September 2004

Pop superstar Madonna was set to wrap up her world "Re-Invention Tour" with a second sold-out show in Lisbon after more than three months on the road.

Since kicking off her tour, her first in three years, in Los Angeles in May, more than 900,000 fans have seen the one-hour-40-minute show which has also taken the 46-year-old pop diva to London, Paris, Washington and her former home New York where she performed for six nights.

As in all other cities where she has performed, tickets for the concerts in the Portuguese capital sold out within hours of going on sale. The pop star wowed the 15,000-strong audience at the riverside Atlantic Pavillon in Lisbon on Monday night, her first-ever performance in Portugal.

"People kept applauding, it was complete hysteria. Sometimes you couldn't even hear the music," 35-year-old Paulo Figueiredo, who wore a kilt to the concert to mimic the star, told AFP.

Some fans had camped outside of the venue since Saturday to ensure they had a close-up look at the singer as she performed classics such as Vogue, Frozen and Papa Don't Preach.

Many heeded a call by a local fan group who had asked people to turn out for the concert dressed in white, while others wore large crucifixes to imitate the look used by the star in her earlier "Like a Virgin" days.

Among those in attendance was Prime Minister Pedro Santana Lopes who watched the show with one of his sons. "It was a fantastic show. I am very happy that it took place in Portugal," he told reporters afterwards.

Images from both Lisbon concerts were being filmed to be turned into a DVD of the tour to be released in 2005.

Unlike in previous Madonna tours which made headlines for their sexual themes, the singer adopted a more spiritual approach in her latest tour, touching on themes of war and famine which was not always well received by critics, with some -- especially in Britain -- accusing her of preaching.

Throughout the duration of the show, anti-war video images of helicopters, tanks, atomic blasts and wounded children were broadcast on giant screens as well as dummies of George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein.

Famished African children featured in the backdrop to accompany her version of John Lennon's Imagine, which closed with a Palestinian and Israeli child walking side by side.

While praise for the special effects and high production standards were almost unanimous, some fans faulted the singer for not interacting much with the audience.

"As a pop concert I think it is the best thing I have seen. But I thought she was a bit cold," said 36-year-old lawyer Miguel Feldmann.

Once her current "Re-Invention" world tour is closed, Madonna plans a pilgrimage-retreat to Israel in observance of her new Kabbalah beliefs. The pop diva began looking into Kabbalah -- or at least a modern version of the Jewish mystical tradition -- in 1997, and is now one of its most high-profile proponents.

Madonna ends "Re-Invention tour" with sell-out concerts in Portugal

Source: AFP - 14 September 2004

Pop diva Madonna was to end her world "Re-Invention Tour" after more than three months on the road with two hotly-anticipated concerts in Lisbon. Tickets had sold out for Monday and Tuesday nights concerts in the 12,000-seat Atlantic Pavillion in the Portuguese capital within hours of going on sale.

Madonna performs Vogue in Lisbon

Portuguese fans had lobbied for Madonna to make her first ever trip to Portugal organising an Internet petition begging her to visit the country. But the concerts almost never took place due to a row with the evangelical church about renting the theatre.

"The goddess of pop is among us," "At last she is here", and "The biggest show ever in Portugal" screamed the headlines Monday ahead of the evening date. Hundreds of Spanish fans are expected to be among the audience on Monday and Tuesday night as Madonna did not play any dates in Spain during the world tour which began back in May in the United States.

The Re-Invention Tour is the first for Madonna since 2001, and also took her to Manchester, London, Dublin and Paris.

Site updates

14 September 2004

The Mad-Eyes team is back from the concerts in Paris and Arnhem and we've been busy updating the site. Check out our tour section for a full show review of Paris, diary updates for Paris, Arnhem and Lisbon, a high quality picture gallery for Paris, and new tour wallpapers.

Esther makes appearance in tour book

13 September 2004

Madonna is a subtle joker. After all the media buzz about Madonna supposedly changing her name to Esther, she found nothing better than to make Esther do an appearance in her tour book.

La Toilette d'Esther Esther in the tour book

Just check the page with the text "How could it hurt you when it looks so good". The painting is a piece from Théodore Chassériau, called... "La Toilette d'Esther"!

The original painting, in which Esther prepares herself before being presented to king Assuérus, can be seen at the Louvre in Paris. Our good friend Marcin who works at the Louvre, sent us a picture of the original work.

Madonna releases special seats to her fans

Source: - 13 September 2004

Madonna has just released special seats to the public for her last two shows in Lisbon on September 13th & 14th! Normally reserved for her friends & family, Madonna is offering her favorite seats to her beloved fans. This is a once in a life time chance to be seated where Madonna can look into your eyes and sing directly to you! If you are interested in purchasing tickets please email Fan Club coordinator Johann before Sept 11, 11.00am, pacific time. Tickets start at €100 and range to €150. Hurry! There are not a lot of tickets left in these great locations.

I'll Remember to appear on Leeza Gibbons comp.

Source: - 13 September 2004

Entertainment news personality Leeza Gibbons will put her name on a compilation CD to help raise money for her Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, titled Leeza Gibbons Presents Reflections, on Sept. 14.

The disc, which will be released by Top Sail Productions and distributed by WEA, will include tracks from Madonna ("I'll Remember"), Sarah McLachlan ("I Will Remember You"), Celine Dion ("Because You Loved Me"), Josh Groban ("To Where You Are"), Barry Manilow ("Memory") and Reba McEntire ("Moving Oleta").

Top Sail will donate 100% of the project's profits to the two memory disease foundations. Gibbons became active in Alzheimer's work after both her mother and grandmother were diagnosed with the disease.

Beer named on Madonna's honor

Source: TeenMusic - 13 September 2004

JW Lees, a brewer in Manchester, England, has named a beer -- Material Girl Ale -- in Madonna's honor. A crate of the new brew was delivered to the pop star's dressing room during her Re-Invention tour, but it is not known whether Madonna, who is known to enjoy a pint of Guinness, enjoyed the 7.5 percent alcohol strength beer, Sky News reported Saturday.

The Material Girl Ale bottles are labelled with a similar design to that of Madonna's Immaculate Collection greatest hits album. "She played the Hacienda in 1994 and we thought that it would be a good way to mark her first gig back in Manchester," a spokesperson for JW Lees told The Sun. "We know she likes an ale and thought this one was a little bit special."

Madonna throws low-key party for Guy

Source: Ireland Online - 13 September 2004

Superstar Madonna threw a birthday party for her film-maker husband Guy Ritchie at the weekend - in a room at the back of a London pub.

The Material Girl wanted to make sure Ritchie's 36th birthday was one to remember, so she decided to forego glitz and glamour in favour of drinking ale with his friends. The 46-year-old singer paid £30 (€44) to hire the venue in The Punchbowl pub in the British capital's exclusive Mayfair district.

An insider says: "The party was great fun but not the type of do you'd expect Madonna to organise. "She drank ale all night and really let her hair down. She had hired a two-piece Irish band and sang along to all the songs with everyone else. "Madonna left by herself just before 1am and she was pretty merry. She could have hired The Ritz and had champagne flowing all night but she knows what Guy likes.

"Guy said it was the best night out he'd had in ages. He stayed on until 3.30am and was in a right old state, telling all his pals how much he loved them and singing at the top of his voice."

Madonna estate 'open to Quakers'

Source: BBC - 13 September 2004

Madonna has stopped ramblers walking across most of her estate. Ramblers may not be welcome on parts of pop star Madonna's £9 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.

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.

CBS broadcast cancelled

Source: Chicago Tribune - 13 September 2004

Even Madonna doesn't always get what she wants. A deal for the pop diva to air one of her concerts on CBS has fallen through. Madonna wanted the special to air for more than two hours and be commercial-free, CBS entertainment spokesman Chris Ender said. But the network wasn't willing to meet her demands. CBS had expected to tape the special during the European leg of the Material Girl's "Re-Invention" tour.

~ So the CBS broadcast seems to have been cancelled. Meanwhile, there are many rumours about the tour DVD. It's been confirmed that the Lisbon concert will be filmed for the DVD but no release date has been set yet.

A Christmas release seems unlikely and rather a spring 2005 release can be expected. The Paris shows have been filmed for the documentary, which should also follow in 2005.

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