The Virgin music retailer in France has been fined 600,000 euros (756,000 dollars) for illegally downloading a Madonna song to resell it on its own pay-per-tune site.
A Paris industrial court imposed the penalty on the company's VirginMega.fr subsidiary after finding it ignored an exclusive contract between Warner Music France and France Telecom and its mobile unit Orange by copying Madonna's song Hung Up and retailing itself in October last year.
France Telecom and Orange had bought sole rights to sell the song online for a week in France from Warner for 500,000 euros, according to the court's ruling given last Friday.
The verdict ordered VirginMega to pay 100,000 euros to Warner, and 250,000 euros each to France Telecom and Orange.
Warner Music France welcomed the result, saying it had succeeded in "having its rights and those of its artist respected".
Virgin France, though, argued that the judgement "confirmed the need to do everything to help build a balanced market for legal downloads".
It and another major French music retailer, FNAC, have criticised recent moves by recording companies to farm out top selling singles to Internet and mobile operators first under exclusive contracts.
Virgin France was bought from Britain's Virgin Group in 2001 by the French conglomerate Lagardere.
IF there is one quality that marks my long professional relationship with Madonna, it is her matter-of-factness. She never ever beats around the bush, acts coy, promises what she cannot deliver.
When I got through to her here in Manhattan, on the eve of her six-night sold-out stand at Madison Square Garden, the star said, "Liz, I'm glad to do this for you, but what more do you need to know about me? You know more about me than I do myself." I promised I wouldn't ask her more than 20 questions. She laughed, "Oh, I've heard that before!"
The funny thing is, for all the column space I have devoted to this remarkable woman, I had to be prodded to pay attention to her, back in the day. She was already a big star by the time she appeared on the cover of Time magazine in 1985, but I was keeping my distance. Others then clued me into MTV, to her videos, her persona, her daring.
When I spoke to Rosanna Arquette, on the eve of "Desperately Seeking Susan" being released, she claimed Madonna - who had a supporting role in the film - said to her, "Wouldn't you give anything to be me for just an hour?" Rosanna demurred, but I loved that remark. It reminded me so much of other great ego-driven stars - Streisand, Diana Ross, Mae West!
And so Madonna became a column constant. I didn't always agree with what she said, or what she did, but the hysterical over-reaction to her caused me, if not to defend her, then at least try to put a more balanced perspective on her astonishing ongoing saga - which the rest of the media kept insisting was just about to end. She gave me access and trusted my judgment.
She gave me the scoop on her first pregnancy - "Liz, I'm pregnant!" she barked without preamble, all the way from Budapest, as filming began on "Evita." She was generous. When I met her face to face for the first time, at the premiere of "Truth or Dare," I was being profiled for "Prime Time Live." The producers wanted her to talk about me. I did not think this would happen. I was wrong.
Madonna said, "I like Liz Smith because she has big balls, just like me!" And, at the height of her "Sex" book/"Body of Evidence" notoriety, Madonna called from the out of the blue. "Hi, it's Madonna," getting right to the point. "I just want to say thanks for the all the support. I know you get a lot of crap because of it." I did. I still do. And I couldn't care less.
Liz: Are you happy to be back in New York, performing your shows at the Garden?
Madonna: I am always happy to be back here, because, as I've often said, this is where it began and I still consider New York home. I didn't leave Michigan and go to Hollywood. I came to New York, which was the center of the world to me then. My connection to this city and its people will always be very strong. I've had plenty of fun in this city and the audiences are always fabulous.
Liz: You say it was the center of the world "then." No longer? You prefer England?
Madonna: England is where my husband is from and I made the choice to live there with him. But the center of my world is my family. We travel back and forth and I feel privileged to be able to live in the U.S. and in Britain.
Liz: If your family is your center, why do you work so much?
Madonna: Because I love my work, too, and I have much to say and so much to do.
Liz: What's the best part about being a mother?
Madonna: Not thinking about yourself all the time.
Liz: And the worst?
Madonna: Not thinking about yourself all the time!
Liz: And marriage?
Madonna: Diane Sawyer once said that marriage is a contest of generosity and I agree but sometimes I lose and sometimes I win. But I am still in the game and this game has taught me the art of compromise and the art of diplomacy. These two qualities have served me well.
Liz: Did kaballah help you adjust?
Madonna: Having a spiritual life has forced me to be less selfish. Not that I'm serene by any means. I'm still driven by big fat ego and all my insecurities, but I manage better.
Liz: You never seem insecure, in what ways are you?
Madonna: Ha-ha. Don't get me started, I'm never good enough.
Liz: Why do you continue to provoke such controversy in your work?
Madonna: Because I want my audience to think. But I also want them to have fun. I think the two can co-exist in entertainment.
Liz: So the crucifix you are suspended on -
Madonna: Is what you make of it. If you want to be shocked, be shocked. As I've said, I don't think Jesus would be mad at me, as my message during that song is not so different than his. I want to help make the world a better place. I want to open people's eyes to the suffering that's going on in especially the children still dying of AIDS in Africa. Besides, Jesus was not the only person who died on a cross.
Liz: Are you as manipulative with your image as you are often accused of being?
Madonna: All entertainment and art is some form of manipulation. There is nothing wrong with it. The question is what is the intention? To make people laugh? To seduce people into being sheep? Or to wake people up and make them think and ask questions. The latter is obviously my game.
Liz: I heard you are doing a sequel to you enchanting children's story "The English Roses."
Madonna: The sequel is coming out in the fall. It's called "The English Roses-Too Good To Be True." My daughter and I really had a great time following up on the adventures of these five close friends.
Liz: And you're expanding into the retail world?
Madonna: Yes, another reason to go on calling me "The Material Girl!" Actually, my dancers and I just shot an ad campaign for H&M. I worked with their designers on a track suit that will be in the stores by August. It's Gaultier onstage and H&M off.
Liz: You were already around 25 when you hit really big, a grown woman, with a lot of experience. Do you think that helped you - that you didn't become a sensation at 18 or younger?
Madonna: I was hardly a grown woman at 25, but it was good to have that much time to be anonymous and learn how to survive privately. I certainly knew what I wanted by the time I was able to get it. But, I wasn't prepared, could never have been prepared for the scope of what happened to me. You might fantasize about being famous - and I did! - but never that famous. Luckily I really have managed to carve out a life for myself that is mine and mine alone.
Liz: There's a major equestrian theme in this show, yes?
Madonna: Yes, I love horses. They are the most beautiful creatures I think I may have been one of Henry the VIII's knights in another life, riding through the great forest.
Liz: What did the success of this album mean to you?
Madonna: Well, first of all - and nobody believes this when I or any artist says it - I don't write songs or record because I'm thinking "big hit!" I have to be satisfied with what I do. Not that I ever am. I mean, I'm always thinking something can be done better. But, I absolutely appreciate commercial success and it means so much if my fans, who have been devoted through thick and thin, like what I do. When this album debuted at No. 1, when it was No. 1 around the world at the same time, I opened up a bottle of champagne and I cried.
Liz: Is it true you've given up on movies?
Madonna: Actually, I'm more interested in directing at this point. I have so many tales to tell. Making movies for me was never about being a big movie star, it was about being a good actress. But it's not easy with critics going after you before the movie is even released. It's easier to be a visionary as a director.
Liz: Do you have any beauty secrets?
Madonna: Somebody told you to ask me that, right? I love it. I have no secrets. I get incredible facials. I take good care of myself. I eat healthy food. And when and if I ever decide to have plastic surgery - because I know that's the next question - I'll do it. But I won't be holding a press conference.
Liz: Hmmm ... I think I'll skip the retirement question then.
Madonna: Oh, no, please. When I was 30, it was all ... "she's 30, when is she going to quit" ... then 35, 40 ...all this speculation that once you reach a certain point you have to stop doing what you love doing. And don't you dare look good doing it, either. It's the furthest thing from my mind. I tell you what, Liz. We've known each other for a really long time. I've always admired your energy. I'll quit when you do.
Liz: Madonna, you and I will be the last girls standing at the rodeo.
Madonna: Yeah, we can ride off into the sunset together.
Madonna has broken her promise and dumped Australia from her world tour plans. The snub, confirmed yesterday, comes after Madonna vowed to include local dates if her tour reached south-east Asia.
"If I go to Japan I'll go to Australia, I promise," Madonna said in October.
Now they appear to have been hollow words used to spruik her latest album. Madonna's Australian tour promoter Michael Gudinski said yesterday: "Australia is not under consideration for a Madonna tour. I am sure she will come back here one day. She likes Australia. It'll be worth the wait."
Last week, promoters had their hopes raised when Madonna confirmed she would tour in Japan in late September. That opened the possibility of outdoor shows, post-footy season, in October.
But she declined. "She knows how keen I am," Gudinski said. "She can ring me anytime."
Madonna's rebuff does have a bright side. Her production team has now become available to instead do U2's tour in November.
Musical superstar Madonna is about to learn the cost of a Montreal police escort.
Madonna is performing tonight [and yesterday] at Montreal's Bell Centre. They are her only Canadian concerts. The 47-year-old singer will be sent a bill for the motorcycle cops who escorted several black limousine SUVs on Tuesday from the airport to the swanky St. James Hotel in Old Montreal.
As admiring fans waited by the freshly laid red carpet, the American singer entered through a side service entrance.
She later exited through the front door but didn't respond to the enthusiastic screams of fans. A TV news helicopter aired the 10-kilometre journey along city highways.
Local taxpayers will pay for police protection outside the arena, as is customary for these type of events.
Kicking yourself for missing out on tickets to Madonna's concerts July 22 and 23 at downtown Miami's AmericanAirlines Arena?
Marcin Kokowski, a close friend of the Mad-Eyes webmaster and also the photographer who provided us gorgeous pictures of the Drowned World Tour, Re-Invention Tour and the G.A.Y. gig is holding a new photo exhibition in his homeland Poland, entitled CONFESS YOUR SOUL.
One of the highlights of this exhib will be the original picture that was used by Madonna herself for the cover of the Sorry single. other pictures on display will include snaps from the G.A.Y. performance as well as a few pictures from the Drowned World Tour. The exhibition can be viewed at Café Miedzy Nami in Warsaw, Poland from June 23rd till July 14th. The opening night on Friday the 23rd will be attended by partners MTV Poland, Machina, Fashion Magazine and Dlaczego.
The opening will be at 7pm, followed by the Express Yourself Party @ M25 Club at 10pm. There will be a contest for the best Madonna impersonator. The Confess Your Soul exhibition follows Marcin's successful exhibition at Le Madame, which was held in April 2005, displaying 20 photographs of the Re-Invention Tour.
Pop superstar Madonna has reportedly turned down US$3.6 million to promote a new diet and sex pill.
The 'Material Girl' declined an offer put to her by a UK firm to advertise the Slimnsexy tablet, which it is claimed aids weight loss while increasing libido.
Company boss James Dixon tells British newspaper the Daily Star, "We thought it wasn't bad for 10 minutes work. But it was deemed too raunchy for her new lady-of-the-manor image. It seems basques and crucifixions are OK but talking about her sex life isn't."
Madonna concert tickets demand a higher price than Soul2Soul II tour tickets on the secondary ticket market. Based on ticket sales from June 1, 2006 to June 8, 2006, the average price of a sold Madonna ticket is nearly three times that of a Faith Hill/Tim McGraw concert ticket. Sales data is provided by TickCo Premium Seating, a leading provider of tickets on the secondary market in business since 1989.
"With Madonna only playing 14 North American dates, compared to Tim and Faith's 74 North American shows, I guess it's safe to assume that the principles of supply versus demand are in effect," says Kris Farmer, Director of E-Commerce at TickCo Premium Seating. Farmer also adds, "The highest price we've sold a Madonna ticket at this month is $1,400. The highest price a Soul2Soul II ticket has fetched this month is $250."
On average, Madonna concert tickets are selling at a dollar amount nearly four times greater than the average Faith Hill/Tim McGraw ticket. TickCo reports early sales data for the month of June has Madonna tickets selling at an average price of $615 each on the secondary ticket market. TickCo also reports that Soul2Soul II tickets are selling at an average of $169 each; also on the secondary ticket market during the same time period.
Farmer also states, "That's not to say you can't find Madonna tickets for $250 or even below $200 each. We've sold Madonna tickets for as little as $50 a piece this month. However, based on our sales data, on the average, people are paying much more for premium Madonna tickets than they are for Faith Hill/Tim McGraw tickets."
Madonna.com is now offering a streaming version of the new Get Together video in Quicktime and Windows Media format. Contrary to earlier reports, the video for online streaming is the same as the video for TV broadcast.
The singer has been shocking audiences during her Confessions tour, repeatedly using the f-word, flipping her middle finger at the crowd, reaching inside her pants, and suggesting that people perform a lewd act on President Bush. At a recent show in Chicago, however, the naughty talk was all but absent, because Madonna's father was in the audience.
"She gave the crowd the finger only one time and never once said the f-word," says a source who attended that show as well as another one earlier. "At one point, she actually asked the audience to applaud extra loud for her so that her dad would know she made something of herself. The crowd went wild."
Prague- U.S. pop singer Madonna, who will sing in the Czech Republic for the first time in Prague's Sazka Arena on September 6, will stage one more concert at the same venue on September 7, Petr Novak from the Interkoncerts agency, organising the event, told CTK today.
Madonna's first concert in Prague within her Confessions Tour was sold out last week in the record short time of less than two hours. The Sazka company launched the ticket sale from its terminals at non-stop petrol stations last Thursday night.
The tickets to the other concert, which cost from 3,060 to 5,010 crowns, will be sold in the same way. The Sazka terminals will open in the night to Friday at 1:15. One person can buy maximally five tickets.
Madonna is now touring the United States to promote her new recording Confessions on a Dance Floor. She will arrive in Europe in late July. Prague's concerts are her only confirmed performances in eastern Europe.
One of our readers, Richard, has informed us about the ticket sale for Prague: "The Prague show sold out in one hour! Most of the tickets got sold in the first 15 minutes and the fastest tickets sold were the most expensive ones (5010 Kc)."
No second show got added (yet?).
The current tour schedule holds a total of 56 shows in 10 different countries. It is expected that a show for Moscow will still be announced (as this city is mentioned in the tour book) and that extra shows will be added during the sale for the Japanese shows.
A Canadian Madonna fan is suing ticket companies in Quebec for selling entrance to the pop queen's concerts at inflated prices. Regis Giguere is furious he had to pay $14.90 (GBP8.28) per ticket on top of his $95 (GBP53) entrance fee to the MATERIAL GIRL's upcoming 21 and 22 June (06) Montreal shows, which make up part of her Confessions world tour. He is appealing the return of the tacked-on costs on behalf of all ticket buyers, and hopes to secure $100 (GBP55) each in damages. The suit was filed at Quebec Superior Court in Quebec City on Wednesday (14JUN06). Giguere states ticket companies are taking advantage of their exclusive rights to sell the tickets to impose the extra fees, and claims they violate consumer protection laws.
Fame is fleeting, and so is money. That's the word from Forbes magazine, which is just releasing its annual top 100 list of celebrities based on income and recognition.
The big news: Goodbye, Madonna. She was No. 8 last year, and this year she's nowhere to be found. Also off the list: Julia Roberts, Mel Gibson, Lance Armstrong, Lindsay Lohan and Will Ferrell.
But coming aboard for the first time: Dr. Phil McGraw (No. 22), Simon Cowell (No. 29), Ryan Seacrest (No. 88) and Kiefer Sutherland (No. 68).
And who's No. 1? Why, Tom Cruise, whose huge payday on "War of the Worlds" — $67 million — notched him to the top. He should enjoy this moment while he can, because the poor showing of "Mission: Impossible 3" may stick him alongside Madonna next year.
Meanwhile, the Rolling Stones were No. 2 thanks to their now stalled world tour, and Oprah Winfrey was No. 3. Rock group U2 came in at No. 4, and Tiger Woods rounded out the top 5. Steven Spielberg just missed, coming in at No. 6.
Among tabloid celeb names, there was a weird coincidence: Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie tied at No. 35, while Brad Pitt - the man they have in common - was No. 20.
~ With the highly successful Confessions Tour, Madonna should have no problem re-entering the list next year.
The video for Get Together gets its premiere this week. Or rather, the videos. There are two versions of the video, both animated. One will be available for online streaming, the other for TV broadcast. Since Madonna has been busy with her Confessions Tour, she didn't record a new studio video.
Instead Warner used imagery from her performance at London's Koko Club in November, which was then digitally reworked as a cool animation video, which reminds of the video style used by Air and Daft Punk. You can download one version at RapidShare. US residents can watch the video on vh1.com. The German premiere is expected today between 3 and 4pm. (screengrabs taken from MIR)
~ In related news, Get Together is likely to miss the Billboard Hot 100...
ICON is pleased to offer more pre-sale tickets to all qualifying members who were enrolled prior to Sun, Apr 2nd at 11:59 PM (PST) for the following shows:
Wed, Sept 6th - Sazka Arena, Prague, CZ
Begins Wed, June 14th at 9 AM local time (12 AM PST)
Ends Thurs, June 15th 5 PM local time (8 AM PST
Madonna and Lindsay Lohan are planning an unlikely duet, according to US reports. The odd couple have reportedly become new best friends due to their links to Kabbalah, and now they're in secret talks to record a tune together, according to America's In Touch magazine. And, according to insiders, the couple also plan to appear in a movie together.
A source says, "They're helping each other. Madonna's giving Lindsay advice on her music career, and she wants to work on a film with Madonna too."
The insider also tells the publication that Madonna and Lohan are planning a trip to Israel together once the Material Girl's Confessions world tour is over.
Madonna has ended her friendship with Britney Spears, after the 'Toxic' singer announced she was no longer studying Kabbalah, according to media reports in the US.
The 'Hung Up' star had reportedly taken Spears under her wing and spent a great deal of time and money educating her about the mystical offshoot of Judaism.
Spears revealed she was quitting Kabbalah on her personal website, where she declared her new "religion" was caring for her son, Sean Preston.
According to The Scoop website, Madonna is also demanding Spears return a 12th century book on the religion she gave to the singer as a wedding gift.
A source says, "Madonna spent months teaching Britney the Kabbalah system, and splashed out thousands on the ancient scripture for her. She feels she has wasted time, money and precious gifts on Brit."
Spears, who was raised a Baptist, has allegedly been working with a "Christian life coach" to help her through recent emotional rough patches.
Pop superstar Madonna is so terrified her toned body may begin to show the telltale signs of ageing, she's considering going under the knife.
The yoga-loving 47-year-old hates the thought of being cosmetically enhanced, but admits a quick fix answer to age and gravity does have its attractions.
She says, "I sure don't rule it out, although I don't want to be made up of silicone, plastic and man-made fibre."
Madonna's latest single Get Together has reached the top spot in the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play chart, making it her 36th #1 single on that US chart. Congrats Madge, you're really the Dancing Queen!
Check out the official trailer of Arthur and the Minimoys. You can hear Madonna, who is voicing the character of Princess Selenia, say "Long live the King!".
The animation movie by French director Luc Besson (who also directed the Love Profusion video) is set for a Christmas 2006 release.
ICON is pleased to offer more pre-sale tickets to all qualifying members who were enrolled prior to Sun, Apr 2nd at 11:59 PM (PST) for the following shows:
Sat, Sept 16th Osaka, Japan - Osaka Dome
Begins Sat, June 10th at 12 AM local time (June 9th at 8 AM PST)
Ends Mon, June 12th 8 AM local time (June 11th at 5 PM PST)
Wed, Sept 20th Tokyo, Japan - Tokyo Dome
Begins Sat, June 13th at 12 AM local time (June 12th at 8 AM (PST)
Ends Mon, June 15th 8 AM local time (June 14th at 5 PM (PST)
On June 20th, Madonna will release the dvd of her behind the scenes documentary, I'm Going to Tell You A Secret! Click below to check out never before seen bonus features! This is just one clip from the extensive bonus feature menu on the dvd!
Stop by Amazon.com to pre-order your copy of the DVD now! Don't forget, the DVD comes with a CD of songs performed live during the record breaking Re-Invention Tour!
Warner Bros. Records announced today that I'm Going To Tell You A Secret, Madonna's provocative documentary of her stunning and highly acclaimed RE-INVENTION TOUR is scheduled to be released on June 20, 2006.
Directed by Jonas Akerlund, the DVD/CD package contains spectacular performance footage of many of her major hits and also reveals Madonna's intimate journey behind the scenes with her touring family and real family as they travel around the globe.
Secret gives Madonna fans an insider view of Madonna at work beginning with dancers' auditions and reveals the process of putting together an elaborate stage spectacle.
In addition, the documentary shows an up close and personal view of the artist's daily life while out on the road as well as beautifully filmed sequences of the Material Girl performing some of her biggest hits including Like A Prayer, Vogue, Music, Holiday, and a profoundly moving version of the John Lennon hit Imagine. These songs and others are also part of the separate CD, which is included in the Secrets package. I'm Going To Tell You A Secret was originally aired on MTV.
Madonna, whose current CD Confessions On A Dance Floor debuted at No. 1 in 29 countries, is in the middle of her highly acclaimed Confessions Tour, which is scheduled to play Chicago on June 14th and 15th.
The multi-Grammy award-winning artist has made musical history many times over and has defined our era with a sound, style and vision that has inspired countless artists and millions of fans.
You can love her, you can leave her, but she's never gonna stop! While this summer finds Madonna traveling around the country, toting her cross, riding gear and studly back-up dancers from city to city, Confessing, the folks at Logo are getting way into the groove of all things Madge as well.
Officially starting today, Logo is going to be airing 30 of Madonna's best and most bodacious videos (from Burning Up to Hung Up and then some) for the next few weeks all during their regular programming, which will all culminate on-air on Saturday, May 24th when Logo goes crazy with a big 10-hour on-air Madonnathon, which will feature Mrs. Ritchie's videos, movies (Truth or Dare, and-yes! - Swept Away) and at 8pm with The Click List: Ultimate Madonna which will air your picks for Madonna's top ten videos ever!!!
Yes. I said those top ten videos will be chosen by you!!! Starting now, you can head to LogoOnline and watch Her Madgesty's classic clips (and the newer ones, too) and pick your favorites!
But vote! Watch the clips. Weigh in! Appreciate her!!!
In a dream marriage of music and fashion, Madonna, has joined up with fashion giant H&M to supply a complete off stage wardrobe for her entire touring troupe including her band, dancers, crew members and the Material girl herself, it was announced today by H&M.
With a shared philosophy of diversity and fashion freedom, "Team Madonna" participants will be free to choose clothing from H&M's extensive 2006 collection.
Madonna, whose Confessions Tour opened on May 21st, will be dressed by famed designer Jean-Paul Gaultier while on-stage looks forward to being equally fashionable when she steps off the stage in H&M.
Other aspects of the collaboration between H&M and the artist will include a specially designed Madonna track suit which will be available in H&M stores in mid August as well as an advertising campaign featuring Madonna and her legendary dancers.
"This is a thrill for H&M. Aside from being great fans of Madonna's music and fashion sense, we admire her ability to always be ahead of the trends in everything she does. We look forward to seeing how her touring family translates H&M's seasonal trends to their own personal looks," says H&M's head of design Margareta van den Bosch.
Founded in Sweden in 1947, H&M, which has over 1,200 stores in 22 countries, is synonymous around the world with affordable, up to date and high quality fashion. The company's collections are created by their own designers.
The spring/summer 2006 seasonal trends are romanticism inspired by the early 1900's - clean cut tailoring in light neutrals and Riviera style preppy glamour. In addition, there is a wide range of updated classics including knitwear, denim, t-shirts and mix and match sweatshirts and accessories to complete any individual look.
Madonna, a multi-Grammy Award winning artist, children's author and visionary is a cultural innovator of astonishing diversity and enduring appeal. Her current CD Confessions On A Dance Floor debuted at No.1 in 29 countries. The Confessions Tour is scheduled to travel the world through the end of September.
It's a field day for ticket scalpers. Prime seats at Madonna's shows at Glendale Arena are being resold for more than two-thousand dollars. That's six times their 350 dollar face value. Because Arizona has no limits on who can buy and sell tickets or for how much, the free market reigns supreme. Venue operators offer this warning.
The biggest danger with street hawkers is counterfeit tickets. The easiest to counterfeit are computer-printed e-tickets. The paper can be copied as many times as a crook desires, but its bar code will work only for the first person to use it.
~ Much safer is to buy from another Madonnafan - check our Ticket Trade Forum
Madonna will be getting a warm reception when she plays Glendale this week. The singer has demanded that arenas she performs in run air conditioning only minimally during her performances.
Expect the inside of Glendale Arena to likely reach the mid-80s. That's about ten-degrees above the targeted comfort zone of many venues.
Madonna asked for minimal air conditioning at the Staples Center in L-A last Saturday, the Forum in Inglewood, California, and the M-G-M Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
A spokesman for the M-G-M Grand says it's not unusual for singers to want to control air conditioning and air flow.
Thursday's forecast calls for a high of 104 in the Valley.
Color us surprised. We assumed the third single from Madonna's No. 1 album, Confessions on a Dance Floor, would be the highly catchy pop number Jump. Instead, we've been served the hypnotic space-age thumper Get Together as the follow-up to Sorry.
The latter track was woefully ignored at U.S. radio (though it was a smash outside the States) so it will be an uphill climb for Get Together on the airwaves. On the bright side, the new release is an obvious fit for dance radio stations and clubs.
As usual, the track has been remixed for dancefloors by a gaggle of producers. We're particularly fond of the Danny Howells & Dick Trevor KinkyFunk remix, which makes over the tune as a snappy, strutting, disco-funk number.
Every night, Jason Harvey pushes Madonna's buttons. No, he's not the pop diva's latest boy toy. He's "the video guy."
Backstage, the 36-year-old engineer from Milton Keynes, England, works multiple keyboards in a booth that is a virtual traveling TV station. This is where he pushes her buttons. Using software from San Jose's Adobe Systems, he sets in motion multiple video streams that fill giant screens hovering over, around and beneath one-inch plexiglass stages the preening Madonna dances on.
"The biggest one is at the end. You mess up and the show wouldn't end properly. That's the one I always worry about," Harvey said hours before Madonna's second San Jose performance Wednesday night at the HP Pavilion, and minutes before the 47-year-old cultural icon breezed by for a sound check. (Her arrival followed a quick security sweep: Everyone was asked to clear the walkway to the stage.)
Harvey, with spiky, red-tinged hair and sporting a "The Who" T-shirt, would slip unnoticed through any fan gauntlet. But he is much more than a tech roadie. In this multimedia age, Harvey is someone Madonna would not want to miss the bus -- or jumbo jet.
With Confessions tour ticket prices that start over $100 -- stage-hugging seats to Madonna's shows go for $350 -- fans expect an experience more akin to a Broadway extravaganza than a pop singer strumming a guitar on a stage.
And in this video-everywhere world, where 9-year-olds are posting their own cinema vérité on Web sites like YouTube, a performer, especially of Madonna's stature, who doesn't offer a seamless and sophisticated big-screen experience is like a singer out of tune.
"The audience expects a multimedia artist because they are multimedia consumers," observed Tom Randolph, president of FrameFree, which makes digital imaging software used by bands, DJs and club owners. "The new bands, the Indies, have to do it or else they won't stand out."
The Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View recently updated its sound and screen system, and put new screens over plaza restrooms and dining areas, on the lawn and on stage.
"It's theater," Harvey observed.
Video accompanies 21 of Madonna's 22-song concert and includes a montage of President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Saddam Hussein and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, a sketch of the New York skyline that appears to be drawn real-time as she sings, "I Love New York," and a rider falling off a horse, referencing her 2005 accident. (There are also X-ray and MRI images of her bones taken after the accident, an inside Madonna joke, Harvey said.)
Harvey's operation includes a nine-person crew, 22 hard drives, six digital video cameras and two miles of video cable. He manages and manipulates images and video using Adobe Production Studio ($1,699), a suite of software including Adobe's After Effects, Premiere Pro and Photoshop programs.
"It's the savior," Harvey said of the software. "Without it I'd be dead in the water. We would not be able to do our jobs."
The video setup for Madonna's shows was created during a 12-week development process, which included creating and selecting video produced by independent studios, choreographing the images with Madonna and her 22 dancers and last minute "tweaks and twiddles."
For each show, Harvey runs three identical versions of the video performance; should there be any glitch, he can switch to a backup in a mouse-click. "There is no room for failure," he said. "The show has to go on."
A simple text change in Los Angeles required reworking an entire section of video, which is made up of multiple video streams and images that flow from one giant screen to another. "Those streams had to be changed because they all segue into each other," he said.
Harvey, who once did TV and corporate production work, became a video rocker 10 years ago, a time when most of what he did was beam the image of performers on giant screens at large venues.
"Ten years ago, we were very limited by the technology available to us. Digital was very, very expensive. You couldn't really take it on the road. Most of the playback was controlled by VCR machines and laser disc machines," he recalled.
Harvey, whose business is called Short & Spikey (www.shortandspikey.com), has since worked with numerous pop artists, including Cher, Paul McCartney, Pink and Elton John.
He calls his 60-performance tour with Madonna "a walk in the park" compared with Cher's marathon 325-show "Farewell Tour."
"It just went on and on and on," Harvey said. Still, the hours can be grueling on any tour. A day off is often a travel day, and when the performers wrap up a city, Harvey is frequently working until 3 a.m. to make sure everything is packed and ready to be transported to the next venue.
Each artist sets a different back-stage tone. The singer Pink, for instance, "gives everyone a hug before the show," Harvey said.
Madonna's journey to the stage is like a trip to the office: She's all business. Before the San Jose show, she made small changes to the routine.
"The lady is a perfectionist," he said. "She works 110 percent, and that's what she expects from all of her people."
Shortly before showtime, Madonna, sporting her trademark designer track suit, dropped by the video crew. "She said `hi' to everybody and `have a good show.' We were all quite shocked," said Harvey, who noted the queen of pop tends to keep to herself. "It was lovely to hear."
All artists, though, have one thing in common: They want control, and can sometimes have an uneasy relationship with technology, approaching streaming images to a Web site or mobile phone very cautiously. They also demand complete artistic control of what happens on stage, or above it on the big screen.
"They are normally pretty outspoken about what they want -- and don't want," said Harvey, who likes to fiddle with different video effects, sometimes to the chagrin of the pop stars.
He's been told, "If you ever show that again, you are going to die -- or something unprintable," he added. "Some days you have to step over the line to be told never to do that again. That's part of being creative."
Other days, artists realize how important it is to have Harvey around. He became Cher's traveling tech support guru, for example.
"I'd be out there fixing her VCR on her private tour bus," Harvey said.
We're all still Hung Up about Madonna. Her latest tour, Confessions, kicked off this week in the US but the queen of pop can also look forward to endless royalties from the re-release of her raunchy hit Erotica.
The 15-year-old song shot to no.1 in 22 countries when released in the early nineties, and now it's back for a dose of commercial remix treatment.
I hear that Madonna is thrilled with the track. "It's one of my personal favorites" she said. The single is set for re-release this summer.
"We have just heard interesting news about Madonna's Jump. Remixes for the the track, that is currently used as the soundtrack for the movie trailer of "The Devil Wears Prada" - opening in theatres in a month's time, have now been commisioned.
There is no word at the moment if plans will change and the song will be released as a commercial single - or if everything will go on as previously reported - with Jump being released as a promotional single only."
This is released in Europe in June:
060621 42935-6 MADONNA GET TOGETHER (6 track download)
060621 42936-6 MADONNA GET TOGETHER (download)
060621 936249990-2 MADONNA I'M GOING TO TELL YOU A SECRET (CD+DVD)
060621 543915704-2 MADONNA GET TOGETHER (2 track)
060621 936242950-2 MADONNA GET TOGETHER (3 track)
060621 936242935-2 MADONNA GET TOGETHER (6 track)
060621 759938681-2 MADONNA I'M GOING TO TELL YOU A SECRET (DVD+CD)
The unreleased song Liquid Love has leaked on the Internet. This song was recorded by Madonna and William Orbit for the Music album, but it was cut from the final selection. The lyrics can be found here.
Richard has sent us a wonderful long report of his concert experience in Las Vegas; read it at our Fan Reports in the Confessions Tour section. We also posted the review of Norma who saw Madonna live in LA.
Have you seen the show? Share your experience with Mad-Eyes.
Madonna will perform at the Sazka Arena in Prague, Czech Republic on September 6th. This was announced today by the official site ConfessionsTour.com, the site of the venue Sazka Arena and the Czech tour promoter Interkoncerts. Tickets will go on sale on June 16th (sales points) / 17th (online). Price for seated tickets are at 5 010 CZK and 3 062 CZK, standing tickets at 3 340 CZK. More info on sazkaticket.cz.↑ Back to top of page