News Archives

June 2004 News Archive

Madge dedicates "Crazy for you" to her adoring fans!
From the Boston Globe By Joan Anderman

 Even before the mohawked skateboarder began riding the half - pipe during 'Hollywood,' interest in the thin red string circling Madonna's left wrist had vanished. As well it should have. With a two - hour show this gorgeous and this artful, Madonna hardly needed to rely on a spiritual stunt to generate the sort of excitement that, 20 years into her iconic pop career, she's still capable of conceiving brilliantly and executing it masterfully.
 That said, she takes pleasure in keeping us guessing. Or maybe she's just an equal - opportunity disciple, happy to give props to Hebrew script and Jesus on the cross, which were both featured prominently on video screens.
 More to the point - this is a concert, not a celebrity inquest - in the era of over - the - top arena spectacles, Madonna has taken the concept to a new level. Without a unifying thread and in defiance of every aesthetic law known to man, she wove elements of burlesque, extreme sports, rock concerts, Cirque du Soleil, military drills, art installations, dance theater, yoga, and antiwar rallies into a whole. And seamlessness was merely the icing.
 The 'Re - Invention' tour, which sounded so desperately self - referential on paper, turns out to be impossibly accurate. Madonna manages to reinvent her reinventions. She gilded 'Vogue' with a French court twist, delivered an irony - free 'Material Girl,' deepened 'Into the Groove' with bagpipes and kilts, and redefined 'Express Yourself' as a drummer boy's march into battle.
 The latter tune featured the fatigues and rifles from the proceeding number 'American Life,' but the jarring image neatly summed up what Madonna's career has been about: Mindful confrontation, artful provocation, and the use of every part of her body and mind to spark her own little culture wars.
 She's never sounded better. The treated chirp of her early years, which morphed into the dreadful earnestness of the 'Evita' era, has matured into a strong, clear singing voice. A few years ago the idea of Madonna standing alone at a microphone singing 'Frozen' would have been a dubious one. Last night she commanded her spectacle and her music with equal clarity.
 Describing the breath of the pageantry during 'American Life,' her most blatant political statements, images of firestorms, screaming helicopters, and wounded children flashed on video screens while dancers dressed in religious frocks (this being a Madonna show, the habits and burkas were minis) traversed a massive V - shaped catwalk above the audience. Sure it was preachy. Timely, too.
 She's traded in her bullet bra for spangled hot pants, disco beats for finger popping, and transformed 'Hanky Panky' and 'Deeper and Deeper' into noir numbers. Likewise, the abstract ballroom choreography of 'Die Another Day' was an elegant antidote to the rote gyrations favored by the next generation of pop stars.
 A blipping, bloated take on John Lennon's 'Imagine' was the evening's one misstep. But her heart was in the right place. And for the first time in a long time, so were all the artistic pieces.
From the Providence Journal By Rick Massimo

 Madonna's Re - Invention Tour rolled into the Worcester Centrum for the first of four performances last night, and while there were new touches on several songs, the set - list emphasis was still on dance - floor thumpers, mostly from her last album, American Life. And the visual element was at least a co - star of the show.
 The sheer scope was exhausting - costume changes after every few songs, a troupe of 10 backup dancers, a five - piece band, two backup singers, and four giant video screens showing different projections (as well as two more trained on the star of the show).
 Heck, some of the interludes that covered Madonna's costume changes were more opulent than many bands' tours. Some were borderline offensive, as when beefy background dancers made war look like a particularly strenuous dance number, while the video screens showed graphic war footage, all to cover Madonna's change into faux Che - gear for 'American Life.'
 The next interlude, with a belly dancer, break dancer, tap dancer, skateboarder and guitar soloist, on the other hand, made interesting connections between seemingly unrelated disciplines.
 The near - sensory overload veered between moments of interesting juxtaposition and semiotic incoherence. The Weimar - style black - and - white 'set' for the acoustic guitar - driven 'Don't Tell Me' was lovely, but what 'American Life' was trying to say is anyone's guess. it's rare when an artist onstage gives an upturned middle finger, and you're not sure whom it's directed at. (The song also incorporated some of the video footage that was excised from the song's video.)
 Similarly, 'Express Yourself' followed 'American Life,' with the martially - dressed Madonna doing rifle tricks while singing 'Don't settle for second - best/ Put your love to the test.' Huh?
 And so it went: The sequence of a gently swinging 'Hanky Panky' and a hushed 'Deeper and Deeper' gave something to hang onto, but then there were images of x - rays and the elderly on the too - slight 'Die Another Day,' Hebrew letters and stigmata on 'Mother and Father' (which featured some of Madonna's best singing of the night).
 Many of the songs worked as individual production numbers, but after a while the images became gimmicky - There she is with an electric guitar! There she is in an electric chair! - and detracted from each other.
 Madonna's voice has never been the world's strongest (as she has said herself), but it was as strong as ever last night. There was some lip - synching, particularly on the first couple of songs.
 As has been widely noted, 'Get Into the Groove' began with an interlude of bagpipes and martial drums, and broke down to bagpipes on the bridge, but the effect was inconsequential - indeed, by the end of the show, nothing was a shock.
 There's something about the widely varied looks and images that works in aradio or video context - it's a shot of variety and the unexpected, and in small doses it's invigorating. In a live setting, with the condensed, cascading effect of so many numbers in a row, it's easy to appreciate, even be wowed by, the sheer scope and the energy being expended. But to what end?
 As a collection of dance - floor thumpers, the show had more than its share of moments - 'Nobody Knows Me,' 'Vogue,' the early 'Burning Up.' But if the gaudy show business was intended to make a deeper point, it's not immediately clear what it was.
 The tour continues with shows tonight, Wednesday and Thursday.
Fans in the UK should tune into TOTP this Friday at 7.30pm on BBC1 (Euro 2004 football schedule permitting) to enter a very exciting Madonna competition....
Madonna adds a bag-pipe player to her tour!
Madonna's new children's book "Yakov and the Seven Thieves" comes out today, June 21st. If you have not order your copy of the book already, do so at the Madonna Store:

Yakov & The Seven Thieves Book


Seven slippery scoundrels.
One tricky lock.
An unlikely solution...

Yakov, the kindly cobbler, and his wife, Olga, are heartbroken because their son, Mikhail, is very ill. They seek advice from a wise old man, who enlists the help of seven thieves and proves that miracles can occur if we do good deeds.

Written by Madonna and beautifully illustrated by Gennady Spirin.
From the NY Times

 Who can a star rely on to create a spiritually enlightened, Pilates - inspired, military - saluting, career - extending international road show? Jamie King has created pop spectaculars for Prince, Ricky Martin, Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez. Still, directing and choreographing Madonna's Reinvention Tour, which opened here late last month, made all his previous assignments look easy. By the time it completes its three - month run, with 55 concerts in the United States, Canada and Europe, it is expected to gross 0 million.
 Mr. King, 32, has worked with Madonna since she asked him to choreograph her video for 'Human Nature' in 1996. He recently talked with Valerie Gladstone.

 VALERIE GLADSTONE Describe how you and she come up with ideas.
JAMIE KING We've been working together for a long time, so we don't have to go through the whole introductory process. it's more like 'Jamie, I saw this Ninja movie, and it was cool, and it might be cool to do something like that on tour.' Or, 'My kids have been watching 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,' maybe we could do something like the dance with bamboo sticks from that as a transition into 'Get Into the Groove.' '
GLADSTONE What happens when you disagree?
KING We had one major disagreement. Only a few weeks ago, I told her I thought she should replace a song she had already relearned with "Material Girl." She'd spent a lot of time learning the other song on the guitar. She'd also said publicly that she would never sing "Material Girl" again. So I had to convince her that it was a bigger hit and worked much better at the end of a particular sequence.
GLADSTONE Were you worried that the song wouldn't go over?
KING If the audience hadn't responded enthusiastically, I'd never have heard the end of it.
GLADSTONE What did you do after choosing the 12 dancers?
KING I set up four rooms in the Culver City Studios: the band room where Madonna worked on the songs with the musical director and the musicians; the choreography room where we developed the dances; the technical room, where I had the theatrical props, like the swings for the acrobatic dances. That's also where we rehearsed the fire handling and rifle choreography and skateboarding.
 In another room, I had the entire stage taped out to scale with mock screens and elements of the set, all made of wood. Madonna wants to know exactly what everything will actually look like in materials as close to the finals as possible.
GLADSTONE The show has a variety of dance styles: tango, popping, a Scottish bagpipe procession and something called the krump. What's the krump?
 KING Madonna likes me to bring her the newest thing. The krump is very in - your - face, very angry and confrontational, with the arms spread wide in a threatening manner. My dancers told me about it. It looks like you're fighting. it's a way for kids in tough neighborhoods to express their aggression, without really fighting. That's what she and I like about it.
 Star - Ledger Staff

 NEW YORK - - Bagpipers and skateboarders. Yoga poses and a T - shirt reading "Kabbalists do it better." Rap and country music. Angry political statements and giddy party anthems.

 Madonna's Wednesday night show at Madison Square Garden had all of the above, and more. A Madonna tour is, by definition, a spectacle. But she has never presented anything quite as dizzying and dazzling as her current "re - Invention Tour," which has four more dates at the Garden, as well as two at the Continental Airlines Arena.

 Dancers turned into acrobats, spinning on swings high above the stage. They also breakdanced and tap - danced as images of Tarot cards flashed behind them. At two points in the show, a V - shaped ramp descended from the rafters and Madonna and the dancers ran out to the middle of the arena floor.

 Without an album of new material to draw from, Madonna added new twists to some of her old songs. "Material Girl" and "Burning Up" took on a new - wave rock feel, and "Deeper and Deeper" became a jazzy ballad. Bagpipes and a filmed Missy Elliott rap were added to "Into the Groove," while "Don't Tell Me" had a strange country - techno interlude.

 Madonna sang "Lament," from the rock opera "Evita," from an electric chair and added video footage of a gospel choir to "Like a Prayer." Artful film of entwined, slow - moving, near - naked bodies enhanced the yearning sentiment of the ballad "Frozen."

 In general, though, sexual content was kept to a minimum. Madonna seems more interested these days in spirituality and the state of the world.

 One of the show's low points came during "Express Yourself." Dancers dressed in military uniforms marched and twirled rifles with projections of tanks and planes behind them. Madonna herself held a rifle above her head as she sang the line, "What you need is a big strong hand to lift you to your higher ground."

 One imagines she was making an anti - war statement, but the theatrics didn't make much sense accompanying a song about personal empowerment.

 Better to be inscrutable, though, than heavy - handed.

 "American Life" was accompanied by a video that showed, among other things, footage of a President Bush lookalike kissing a Saddam Hussein lookalike, and lovingly laying his head on the dictator's shoulder.

 Shots of children suffering from malnutrition or violence were projected behind Madonna during her earnest cover of John Lennon's "Imagine." Toward the end of the song, though, happy children were shown, and a Jewish boy and an Arab boy walked off together, arm in arm.

 Madonna made her longest speech of the night before this number, encouraging fans to see Michael Moore's upcoming documentary, "Fahrenheit 9/11," which explores links between the families of President Bush and Osama bin Laden.

 "I don't think I ever cried so hard at a movie in my life," she said before thanking Moore, who was in the audience.

 Later, she offered a more conventional thank - you, dedicating "Crazy for You" to the fans who have stuck by her through her entire career. She then sang a warm, relaxed version of the song. This was the concert's calmest moment, by far.

 Then it was back to business as usual, with a manic "Music," featuring hip - hop record scratching, dancers gliding around the stage on conveyor belts, and the word F - R - E - E - D - O - M spelled out on the dancers' butts. The show ended with "Holiday," a celebratory dance - pop tune with prancing on the V - ramp, a blast of confetti, and a final video message: "Reinvent Yourself."
See the Material Girl in concert in the city of your choice! Party in the pit and be front and center for Madonna's shocking new tour. Enter now!
Staff Writer

 For Madonna, necessity is the mother of "Re - Invention."

 Super - savvy culture vulture that she is, the Material Mom knows that if she doesn't re - assert her relevance soon, she could quickly become a fringe best known for writing children's books and being Britney's gal - pal.

 On the heels of disappointing sales for her "American Life" album and a hostile reception to her last movie, "Swept Away," the 45 - year - old entertainer has her back against the wall for the first time in her career.

 "The Re - Invention Tour" is her way of proving she is not ready to retire to the London mansion with hubby Guy Ritchie and the kids just yet. At Madison Square Garden last night, the first of eight sold - out shows in New York in the next two weeks, she definitely made that point.

 Many sing better. Others write better songs. But no one performs better than Madonna especially when she has something to prove.

 In the nearly two - hour set, Madonna takes the audience on a whirlwind tour through her 20 - year career. Some songs get shaken up the disco jam "Deeper and Deeper" gets jazzy, "Like a Prayer" gets an electro - country twang and "Material Girl" becomes a pop - punk rave - up. But what is even more impressive is how her elaborate performance art pieces enhance many of the songs. The athletic swinging of her dancers during "Bedtime Story" provides the song a grace that it never would have seen in a straight performance. The intricate moves of her 16 - member dance troupe turned "Into the Groove" into a powerful dance piece instead of simply a dance - pop trifle. "Papa Don't Preach" was filled with playfulness and innocence, even including a ring - around - the - rosie dance.

 This is a side of Madonna that she hasn't shown very often, the one that has fun, the one that enjoys the roar of the crowd. She offered genuine appreciation for the cheers much like her decision to bring back songs from her past that she has tired of.

 Making peace with her past doesn't mean she's ready to give up on the interests of her present. Kabbala is present in the Hebrew letters that swirl on the big screens behind her and she even sports a t - shirt that says "Kabbalists Do It Better." Her anti - war, anti - Bush beliefs are clearly on display during "American Life," as well as her overwhelming endorsement of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," which she said had her in tears. With this tour, Madonna can give the song her full support unlike last year, when she yanked the video to avoid controversy about complaining about Middle East policies in the middle of the Iraqi war. She was rightfully worried about getting Dixie - Chicked if she proceeded, but as it turned out, her album was basically blacklisted anyway.

 If anyone could have waged a successful media campaign to get her anti - war, pro - troops point across, it would be Team Madonna. The Material Mom, however, plays things a little safer, which is also evident on "The Re - Invention Tour."

 When Madonna dedicated her ballad "Crazy For You" to all her fans who have "stuck with me through thick and thin for the past 20 years," she short - circuited all the critiques of her 2001 "Drowned World" tour, which was high on drama and production but low on fun and any sort of crowd interaction.

 Madonna's latest reinvention may be her best one yet. She has not only become a champion of the underdogs but somehow an underdog herself. And as long as she offers amazing performances like this one, she will have an army of fans backing her up.

June 17, 2004 - -   SHE may have adopted the new name Esther, but it was the same old Madonna electrifying Madison Square Garden last night.

 In a barrage of video imagery, campy dance routines and hit songs, last night's opening concert of Madonna's six - show Garden series was more artistic regurgitation than reinvention - despite the title of this tour.

 That isn't saying the tightly wrapped "Re - Invention" extravaganza wasn't fun eyeball candy. But in most ways, this show seemed to be the old Madonna in a new bustier.

 While the lightning bolt of musical greatness didn't strike the stage during the nearly two - hour concert, Madonna razzle - dazzled her way into the hearts of the devoted audience with an entertaining theatrical revue that was elaborately staged, costumed and cast with a full dance troupe that included acrobats and even a Mohawked skateboard boy.

 The 45 - year - old pop legend sang well and looked great. And when it came to her dance - oriented pieces, she was certainly at her most compelling.

 Yet, she was at her best when she performed her bare - bones strum 'n' hum "Like a Prayer." Madonna accompanied herself on acoustic guitar, and it was the one song where a feeling of soul came across.

 An unfortunate cover of John Lennon's "Imagine," the low point of the night, followed that. She complicated it by playing it beneath images of desperately ill and dying children. "Imagine," one of Lennon's best tunes, was such a downer, it felt as if Madonna pulled the plug on the show.

 With all that's been made of her new - found Kabbalist leanings - which inspired her new name - and shadowy spiritualism, it was surprising how little of that made its way into this concert. She took a lesson from her own song "Papa Don't Preach." and didn't gab about finding higher ground. Yes, video images of Hebrew letters and pictures of the Sacred Heart Jesus popped up, but the projections were more graphic design than evangelism.

 In fact, that was one of the biggest problems with this concert. The songs and the staging often had little to do with one another.

 There was an anti - Republican undercurrent here, but Madonna smartly voiced no criticism of the president or his foreign policy in words. Instead, she let videos featuring the ravages of war convey her why - can't - we - just - get - along message.

 As for the notion that Madonna couldn't sell out the Garden anymore, the reports of the demise of her career were greatly exaggerated. There wasn't an empty seat in sight.
Madonna is getting the hang of this kiddie book thing.

 Yakov and the Seven Thieves (Callaway Editions) is the third instalment of Madonna's five - book series for the publisher and it's the best, mostly because there is nothing Material Girl - ish about it. (Her first book, the rather boring The English Roses, focused on a catty group of girls illustrated in a very fashion - forward manner.)

 The fairy - tale artwork in Yakov, by Russian painter Gennady Spirin, brings authenticity to the story about a sick boy, desperate dad and wise old man in an eastern European village in the 18th century.

 Madonna, who cites the influence of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, in all her books, says Yakov was inspired by the Baal Shem Tov, a Ukrainian teacher.

 "It's a story about how all of us have the ability to unlock the gates of heaven - - no matter how unworthy we think we are. For when we go against our selfish natures, we make miracles happen, in our lives and in the lives of others," Madonna writes on the cover jacket.

 While that's an exaggeration of how important and symbolic this book really is, the story moves along nicely and gets its message about redemption across without being too preachy. it's also appropriately written for its target audience of six - year - olds.

 Yakov is the father of Mikhail, who is literally on his death bed. With few options left, Yakov goes to visit the mysterious old man who lives on the outskirts of the village and is rumoured to perform miracles. Unfortunately, the old man's first attempt to help the boy fails. He has an idea, though, to ask all the town's thieves, pickpockets and criminals to put their rather unusual talents toward a good cause.

 Of course, being a children's picture book, there is a happy ending with a healthy Mikhail and reformed rascals.

 And, it's worth noting that the only female scoundrel, Petra the Pickpocket, bears a striking resemblance to Madonna herself.
Watch Cynthia McFadden's exclusive interview with Madonna on 20/20 Friday night at 10 p.m.

Madonna's latest makeover - - motherhood and mysticism

Madonna talks with 20/20 about motherhood, mysticism, her latest children's book and her new concert tour. (

June 16, 2004 Madonna, the master of self - invention, has come a long way since her "Material Girl" days. While she has no regrets about her moves on her climb to pop diva status, she tells ABC News' 20/20, "I brought a lot of chaos to people's lives, because of my selfish behavior."

In her latest incarnation, the wife, mother, children's book author and still - touring pop star says the ruling philosophy in her home is "pick up your s - - t."

Madonna may have made a career on rebellion, irreverence and sexually charged performance, but when it comes to her children, manners are important. "Even my children have to clean up their mess, clean up their rooms. Manners, thank you, please, take your dishes to the sink. I mean gratitude, being grateful, that is, that has to happen If it's traditional to be a decent human being, then I'm traditional," she told ABC News' Cynthia McFadden.

Madonna married film director Guy Ritchie in 2000. They have a son together, 4 - year - old Rocco, and Madonna has a 7 - year - old daughter, Lourdes, whose father is Madonna's former personal trainer, Carlos Leon.

Madonna says her favorite aspect of getting older is "getting smarter" and gives a rare glimpse of her private life with Ritchie. She tells McFadden she believes the key step to a successful marriage is "learning to apologize." She also shares one of the couple's daily rituals, saying that after her grueling performances, she goes in the tub and her husband talks to her about the day.

Call Me Esther

Madonna also speaks candidly with McFadden about her study of Jewish mysticism known as Kabbala, which she believes is "incredibly punk rock" and anti - establishment.

"Kabbalists believe in immortality. They believe that you can overcome death, overcome illness, whatever, so, it's incredibly good to be a rebel," she said.

Madonna also reveals that she has also taken on the Hebrew name of Esther, explaining that, "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.

This is in no way a negation of who my mother is. I wanted to attach myself to the energy of a different name."

To Naughty Children Everywhere

Madonna also discusses her third and latest foray into children's literature, Yakov and the Seven Thieves, which hits bookstores June 21.

Madonna has dedicated the book to "naughty children everywhere," saying that, "Even the naughtiest person in the world, big or small, has the capability to do something good in the world."

Describing herself as "naughty child, number one," she espouses the power of prayer. "I pray every day and I believe that it is a very powerful way to communicate, to heal, to affect change."

20/20 will also air exclusive footage from Madonna's Reinvention tour, which comes to New York City's Madison Square Garden today.
 After reigning over the hearts of millions for quite some time, pop queen Madonna, has added another feather to her cap.

 The 45 - year - old mom of two has been voted the best dressed woman by the Good Housekeeping magazine.

 The homemaker's bible declared Madonna the leading fashion icon for women over 40.

 "The great thing about Madonna is that she constantly looks good and constantly reinvents herself and sets trends," editor Lindsay Nicholson is quoted as saying by

Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley was highly commended while fellow actors Helen Mirren and Judi Dench and model Jerry Hall were on the short list.

 Hall's one - time partner, crooner Bryan Ferry, was named Britain's best - dressed man, relegating soccer star David Beckham to second place.

 Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine, the austere hosts of the television series "What Not To Wear" reproduced for an Australian audience recently by Channel 7 - were judged worst - dressed women. (ANI)
Music brings the people together for a special edition of Grapefruit
Grapefruit Promotions is pleased to present the Re - Invention Ball: the official Toronto launch party for Madonna's Re - Invention Tour and a fundraiser for Casey House.
The Ball starts spinning on Friday, July 16 at Tequila Lounge, located at 794 Bathurst Street (corner of Bloor and Bathurst). Doors open to media and special guests at 9 p.m., then to the public at 10 p.m.
DJ Aural and DJ Shane will take guests on a musical journey as they spin a career - spanning set packed full of hits, remixes, live tracks and classic album cuts. Grapefruit is also flying in Madiva - star of MTV, U.K. Television and peer of Madonna herself. New York's most infamous Madonna impersonator is sure to dazzle the crowd with some of her greatest numbers In addition to the theatrics, guests can also win posters, DVD's, gift certificates, clothing and an all - inclusive vacation package for two. Prizes for the event have been donated by Grapefruit's generous sponsors in support of Casey House.
Tickets can be purchased at Music Authority (95 Maitland St.) starting on June 18. Tickets are in advance and priced higher at the door. Tickets are very limited and are sold on a first - come first - serve basis.
For all the up - to - date information on tickets, sponsors, dates, Madiva and Madonna herself, please visit
By Mark Guarino

 The engine of Madonna's 21 - year career is reinvention. Look back and her lineage of videos and concert tours is lined with shifting selves - - from disco boy - toy all the way up to children's book author.

By naming her current tour "Re - Invention," the 45 - year - old is not so much trying anything new as she is, for the first time, collecting all her former selves and seeing if they can co - exist together.

Some call it nostalgia, but Madonna has never been that obvious. At the United Center Sunday, the first of four sold - out nights, she tried to make sense out of everything she's done in the past, but in the exhilarating collage, she demonstrated some previous lives live up to the present and a few do not.

Some reinvention was musical and on these songs, Madonna and her eight - piece band and core of dancers celebrated their durability. "Into the Groove," an early hit, was remixed with a more complex beat, rapping interludes from a recorded Missy Elliott and, strangely, a live bagpiper and drum corps. "Like a Prayer," part of her disco folk set, swelled with spiritual uplift with the help of a recorded gospel choir.

Unlike her dark and condensed "Drowned World" tour in 2001, this outing joyfully interchanged past with present. The best moments blurred images and toyed with mixed messages.

 She and her dancers performed "Express Yourself," an infectious dance pop statement of individuality, dressed in military gear and twirling rifles. For "Burning Up," her earliest dance hit, and "Material Girl," Madonna posed as a serious guitar rocker, hitting chords and transforming the songs' adolescent whine into adult certitude.

The flow of imagery had its chinks when Madonna revisited weaker material - - notably "Hanky Panky," a vaudeville jazz send - up from "Dick Tracy." And no matter what you think of Andrew Lloyd Webber, his material ("Lament") doesn't sound good being sung when the singer is strapped to a fake electric chair.

Unlike the past, the show was not designed to provoke but was filled with more moments where she tried to present herself as a serious songwriter.

She slipped into that mode during the show's third act, a short acoustic set that ended with a cover of John Lennon's "Imagine." The choice may have been in protest, since Clear Channel Entertainment, her tour's producer and promoter, is the same company that banned the song from its 1,200 radio stations after Sept. 11.

But since she was singing in front of a backdrop of televised starving children, it's more likely she was using the song to signal her altruism. Her shrill rendition didn't do that. Instead, it felt like another reinvention, just that this one was empty and presumptuous.
We wanted to remind you about the release of Madonna's newest children's book, "Yakov and The Seven Thieves". The book, which is beautifully illustrated by Gennady Spirin, comes out June 21st, but you can pre - order ahead of time and have it shipped directly to your door. You can also buy an exclusive t - shirt featuring the cover art, in both youth and adult sizes.


Below is a Q & A with Gennady Spirin

What was it like working on Yakov and the Seven Thieves?

The book was completed amazingly quickly. The idea was clear. The style parameters were set. I was able to render the characters without much difficulty - very naturally. Everything came together well.

How is Yakov and the Seven Thieves different from other books you've illustrated?

This is the first time that I worked with a contemporary author. This is not a classic, world - renowned story, but the idea has deep roots.

What message do you hope children will glean from Yakov and the Seven Thieves?

I think that children and grown - ups should see this book as espousing the importance of compassion. It also puts forward the concept that often the prayers of some of the most seemingly "bad" people are dearer to God than the prayers of the seemingly "good" people. The thieves? Prayers demonstrate real openness before God, and stem from feelings of unworthiness.

What is your favorite part of Yakov and the Seven Thieves?

I must confess that I look at the book as a whole and, thus, I do not prefer one part of the book over another.

What is your favorite illustration in Yakov and the Seven Thieves?

I cannot select anything in particular and have never been able to admire my own work, even if I am satisfied with it overall. One's admiration for one's own work can only bring disdain from the great Masters.

What about your style do you feel lends itself to Yakov and the Seven Thieves?

The stylistic parameters for the book were discussed and set from the outset. This story takes place in Europe, in the 18th century. It could have been illustrated in any number of styles, but we decided on Baroque. It makes the book dressier, but at the same time preserves the dramatic element and the psychological characteristics of each of the characters.

What was your opinion of Madonna before and after reading Yakov and the Seven Thieves?

I had, of course, heard of the author before commencing work on the book, but I am not a fan of contemporary music. I like classical music and jazz. However, my children are familiar with Madonna, and, overhearing that I was working on this book, they told me of her accomplishments and career highlights. Overall, she is a giant, so I felt somewhat uncomfortable initially. Irrespective of the Hollywood hoopla surrounding Madonna, it is not lost on her to notice simple, human actions, which is the centralmoral principle of the story.

What inspired you to want to illustrate children's books?

I remember that as a child I absolutely loved to look at books with pictures. How delighted and excited my young soul was to see the elaborate letters and illustrations of a new story. I was drawn to stories by their illustrations. A whole world opened up to my youthful imagination. And to this day, that world beckons.

Which artists and illustrators have most influenced you and your work?

Unfortunately, I cannot name just one person. My interests and tastes are broad and my work is influenced not only by other artists (and there is a legion of them), but also by different cultures, architecture, period costumes, and a mass of minute details and elements that have filled my life at different times.

How did growing up in Russia influence your work?

Most positively. First and foremost, I am a Russian soul. I am Russian Orthodox. Russia is my Fatherland. The list of Russia's great leaders, religious icons, writers, composers, artists and entertainers is what inspires me, and I consider myself supremely fortunate to be a part of Russia's rich traditions.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you can pass on to young artists?

To the young and not - so - young artists I can wish only great love. Love inspires great art, as well as life itself. Love what you do.

Your illustrations feature an amazing amount of detail. How long does it usually take you to complete a piece? What is your process like?

In art we are not dependent on technology. It is the process itself that is most important, and the creative process cannot be timed. Sometimes, I can create an illustration in 2 - 3 days, but more often it takes a week or longer. About my creative process: I don't do sketches. That way, I am much more focused on the creative process and the final product, and, for me, this is more interesting, because I am not worried about the many changes that may be requested and the work then proceeds more naturally, by the grace of God. Of course, I draw on many types of cultural materials while I am working - books, architecture, interiors, furnishings, costumes, etc. Yes, it is true, I love detail - it is a necessary part of the whole.

How do your own children influence your illustrations?

I work at home and I love when my children are home while I am working. I love to hear their voices. They are the first to see what I am working
on and I can feel when they are not pleased with something I've created. I also know when they are very pleased - which is the best reward I can
hope for.

Madonna's third book for children, Yakov and the Seven Thieves, illustrated by Gennady Spirin, will be released worldwide on June 21, 2004.

Special thanks to Callaway Editions
The X - STaTIC PRO - CeSS exhibition has moved from a successful installation in Munich to Dusseldorf at the NRW Forum Kultur und Wirtschaft.

For more details on the exhibition which runs from 10 - 27 June visit the gallery website at -

Here is the official poster which is available to buy at the exhibition.
On June 4th, Yahoo! Messenger,a popular instant messaging service, launched Madonna Audibles. Audibles are expressive verbal animations that you can send to your friends through Yahoo! Messenger. Madonna Audibles are the very first music Audibles to appear on Yahoo! Messenger.

These audibles are caricatures of the Material Girl that display two distinct and popular time periods for Madonna-- the 80's and 90's. When a user sends a Madonna audible, they have the option of sending song samples of either "Who's that Girl" or "Ray of Light."
Everyone can check out the Madonna audibles and send them to their friends by downloading the All-New Yahoo! Messenger at
Check out reviews of Madonna's concert at San Jose's HP Pavilion!
Click here to see pictures of Madonna on the Re-Invention Tour in the image gallery.
The Madonna Arnhem show went on sale on Saturday and in fact sold out in 17 minutes!
As such, show #2 (September 9th) was also announced and it too sold out.