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February 2008

Filth and Wisdom: First Press Review

The first online press review (from the press screening this morning) of Madonna's directorial debut, Filth and Wisdom has come courtesy of UK newspaper The Times.

It is a surprisingly positive review from a UK newspaper and gives the film 3 out of 5 stars, and suggests it is a good starting point for her career as a director!

Yet despite its many shortcomings and an ending so mushy and neat it would embarrass Richard Curtis, Madonna has done herself proud. Her film has an artistic ambition that has simply bypassed her husband, the film director Guy Ritchie. She captures that wonderfully accidental nature of luck when people’s lives intersect for a whole swathe of unlikely but cherishable reasons. Altmanesque would be stretching the compliment too far, but 'Filth and Wisdom' shows Madonna has real potential as a film director.

To read the full review visit www.timesonline.co.uk/arts_and_entertainment


Madonna makes director's debut at Berlin film fest

Having been panned for most of her efforts in front of the camera, pop icon Madonna makes her debut in the director's chair Wednesday at the Berlin Film Festival.
Critics have already begun sharpening their pencils at the prospect of 'Filth and Wisdom' which revolves around a Ukrainian immigrant who finances his dreams of rock stardom by moonlighting as a cross-dressing dominatrix, and his two female flatmates.
Madonna, who will add some welcome star power to what has been a rather lacklustre Berlinale, has been less than timid about her ambitions as a filmmaker.
'I have always been inspired by the films of Godard, Visconti, Pasolini and Fellini and hope that I may one day make something that comes close to their genius,' she said in a her director's statement for Wednesday's premiere.
Billed as a London-based comedy, 'Filth and Wisdom' stars Eugene Hutz, the Ukrainian frontman for Gypsy punk rock band Gogol Bordello, as well as British cult star Richard E. Grant.
In 'Filth and Wisdom,' Hutz plays 'AK' a self-proclaimed philosopher and poet, whose sideline career sees him assume characters ranging from a Marine drill instructor to former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher - depending on the tastes of his clients.
Grant plays a blind professor and frustrated writer who lives in the same building.
'I have always admired the art of filmmaking and the ability to tell a good story,' Madonna said in her programme notes. 'After almost three decades of being in front of a camera, I decided to put my money where my mouth is.'
The Material Girl not only directs, but also co-wrote the screenplay and acted as executive producer.
'Filth and Wisdom was essentially my way of putting myself through film school,' she said.
The project began life as a short, but Madonna said it grew into a feature as she became more involved in the lives of the three main characters.
'When the film was finished, I realised that they were all aspects of me, so the whole experience was both artistic and therapeutic,' she said.

From AFP Via Yahoo! News


Malawi minister backs adoption

A Malawian minister on Monday praised Madonna's efforts to rally support for orphans in the southern African nation and said it would be wrong for the government to deny the pop star's adoption of a child there.
Madonna, who is in the process of adopting a Malawian boy, David Banda, hosted a New York event charity event last week that raised millions of dollars for the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the singer's orphan care projects in Malawi.
'This country owes her so much. Very few famous people would take their time off to rally other celebrities to raise money for a poor country like Malawi, which very few people know about,' Information Minister Patricia Kaliati told Reuters.
'It will be wrong for Malawi to even dare deny this wonderful woman all the rights to be a parent of David and many more Malawian children,' Kaliati said.
Madonna is due to appear before a Malawi court in April for a final hearing on Banda's adoption. She began the adoption proceedings in 2006 after meeting the boy in a local orphanage.
The toddler, now about two years old, is living with Madonna and her film director husband Guy Ritchie in London.
The adoption has been controversial, with critics accusing the government of skirting laws that ban non-residents from adopting children in Malawi, which has been badly hit by the AIDS epidemic and is one of the poorest in the world.
There are an estimated 1 million orphans in the country, many of whom are infected with the HIV virus.
Malawi's government is amending its adoption laws.

From Reuters Via Yahoo! News


10 Essential Albums for Spring

UK newspaper The Observer has published this three-song review of Madonna's new album in their 10 Essential Albums for Spring list today:

Madonna
Title TBC
Warner Bros, 28 April

It doesn't have a title yet, but the direction of Madonna's new album, her last major release before she turns 50, seems clear: the Barbour-wearing Queen of Pop is hitting the street.
Two of the three tracks we heard in an exclusive playback boast productions from the biggest beatmakers in hip hop.
Timbaland evidently reserves his best work for the highest-paying customers because lead single '4 Minutes to Save the World' is a mighty effort, powered by superhero horns, ticking clocks and Justin Timberlake's falsetto. On 'Candy Shop', a sticky clutch of not-so-subtle innuendos ('Come into my store/ I've got candy galore') is traded over a snappy Pharrell Williams beat. 'Give it to Me' slinks into more familiar dance-pop territory, but the chatter behind this album suggests that R&B and hip hop will be its main flavours.
Not a revolutionary move from Madonna, but at least she's working with the right people.


'How can I make this sound more like Madonna?'

Justin Timberlake was interviewed for Hollyeood Daily People and of course was asked a few questions about his upcoming work with Madonna:

You worked on Madonna's new album with Timbaland. In what direction did you take her?
Basically, our job was to re-invent her sound. My thing was producing her vocals, really experimenting with rhythm. Everything she does with rhythm is straightforward. What I do is more staccato and R&B. So the challenge for me was writing songs, then saying, 'How can I make this sound more like Madonna?' I'm a big fan of her first album. So my mission was to write a modern-day 'Holiday.' I wrote a cool house record for her called 'Miles Away' that I think is a smash! She sounds great on it.
So is it an R&B Madonna?
It's an R&B/pop/dance record, but it´s still Madonna. Her voice still sounds like she's 18 year old! It trips me out that she's 49. She´s always been rough and tough. Her last couple of records, she's like, 'Rrrrrrr!'
How did she react to your ideas?
A couple of times I pushed her in a direction where it took a minute before we saw eye to eye. Her approach was, 'Well, I just haven't done that.' And I was like, 'Yeah, that´s why you should do it.'
So did you teach Madonna how to beatbox?
(Laughs) No, no. We left that to me and Tim.

Thanks to Heidi


Madonna watches Joe Henry in concert

madonnalicious reader Andrew has sent in this report from New York City:

Last night I went to the Joe Henry Concert at Jazz At Lincoln Center - Madonna was in the audience right behind me with three others (two women and one guy - didn't recognize any of them). He performed Don't Tell Me and dedicated it to her. After the show, myself and two friends waited at the stage door. One photographer was there. Sure enough she came out - went straight into her SUV. She looked flawless.


Angie Harmon is starstruck by Madonna

We were delighted to discover when we arrived at Wednesday's Gucci party that we weren't the only ones totally awestruck in the presence of Madonna. As we interviewed Women's Murder Club star Angie Harmon, she became visibly nervous when Madonna walked up the red carpet behind her. 'I've been running around Fashion Week,' she stuttered, trying to stay on topic. Then she interrupted herself and burst out to her date, hairdresser Stephen Knoll, 'Did you just say 'Hi' to Madonna?!' she gushed. 'I'm totally freaking out! You said 'Hi' to Madonna!'
Harmon turned back to us and admitted, 'I can't handle it! I've never met her. Probably won't get up the nerve to do it tonight. Look at Lourdes! Look at how big she is! I bet she has a British accent.' We bet she does, too.

From mymag.com - thanks to Lauren


Press pictures from Gucci Charity Event

Madonna and her daughter Lourdes attended the UNICEF/Raising Malawi Gucci Charity event last night on the lawns of the UN building in New York City last night.

Other celebrities attending the star-studded event included Gwyneth Paltrow, Gwen Stefani, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Brooke Shields, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Debra Messing, Eric Dane, Jerry Seinfield, Ellen Pompeo, Cynthia Nixon and Angie Harmon.

Pictures from AP / Reuters Via Yahoo! News


Madonna and Gucci aid Malawi orphans

Pop star Madonna hosted a celebrity-studded event on Wednesday on the lawns of the United Nations to aid Malawi orphans, the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) and - controversially - to inaugurate a new Gucci store.
Actors Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Drew Barrymore, Gwyneth Paltrow and a heavily pregnant Jennifer Lopez were among many stars at the dinner that Gucci Chief Executive Mark Lee said has already raised $3.7 million.
But critics have objected to the use of the U.N. grounds to kick off a Gucci store opening and raised concerns about ties between Madonna's charity Raising Malawi and The Kabbalah Centre, a body devoted to a mystical form of Judaism followed by the pop star.
The accusations, made mainly by bloggers, appear to stem from the fact that Raising Malawi's founder Michael Berg is also co-director of The Kabbalah Centre.
'I don't really pay any attention to that. I am grateful that Gucci has underwritten this event - that's all that matters to me - their generosity. There's always controversy surrounding anything that involves change,' Madonna told Reuters.
'I want to put Raising Malawi on the map. I want credibility as a philanthropic organization. I want to inspire people. I don't want them to just write me a check: I want them to give me a piece of their heart,' she said.

Philippe van den Bossche, executive director of Raising Malawi, said it was 'absolutely not true' that any money raised would benefit Kabbalah. He said the organization was a nonprofit, registered, nonsectarian organization intended to provide support for orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi.
A huge tent was erected on the lawns of the United Nations for the event and security was tight. Alicia Keys, Timbaland and Rihanna were due to perform, while comedian Chris Rock was to auction off celebrity events, such as aerobics with Madonna and baseball batting practice with Yankee Alex Rodriguez. Despite announcing the fundraising event in November as a celebration of the opening of a new Gucci store in New York, Lee said on Wednesday that 'it's a coincidence that we happen to be here and we're opening an important store on Friday.'
'Really tonight is about the charities and the money we're raising,' he told Reuters, while Gucci's Creative Director Frida Giannini said that in the end the dinner was simply a 'fundraising event with glamour.'
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who did not attend the event, said on Tuesday that he understood the proceeds would 'be used for a proper purpose as agreed between UNICEF and the organizers.'
Gucci, which is owned by French retailer PPR, has paid for the entire event and said all money raised will be split between Raising Malawi and UNICEF.

From Reuters Via Yahoo! News


Female fans wanted for Madonna Workshop

Following on from Madonna's commercial for the brand, Sunsilk are now after female fans in the Greater London area who could take part and give a presentation about Madonna at a workshop in London next Monday.

The day of the Madonna Immersion workshop is Monday 11 February (9:00am-6:00pm). The payment is £500. The presentation should last for about 45 mins and additional 15 mins will be allocated for questions and discussion.

The brief for the event is quite short:
- at the very beginning, you can quickly take people through what you do as Madonna fan etc.
- your short fan introduction to Madonna
- how did you become a Madonna fan?
- why Madonna?
- also, it would be great to compile all the current news about her new album, image and tour in order to update the team.

UPDATE - 07 February - Thanks to everyone who has emailed in - Sunsilk will now work their way through all the submissions.


Filth and Wisdom synopsis revealed

The film synopsis for Madonna's directorial debut has been published, along with the cast and crew list by the Berlin Film Festival.

Madonna's 81 minute film will premiere on Wednesday 13 February - for more information visit www.berlinale.de:

'Filth And Wisdom' is about Andriy Krystiyan, or A. K. for short, who has come to England from the Ukraine, and his two flatmates, Juliette and Holly.
A. K. is a philosopher (at least that's what he claims to be), a poet, and an authority on all aspects of life. At the same time, he is following his grand plan to become an international star.
Global stardom is how A. K. describes the goal that he and his band Gogol Bordello are pursuing with their particular brand of boisterous gypsy punk. For the time being, however, he makes ends meet by performing role play in women's clothing for straight married men.
A. K. shares a flat with two young women named Juliette and Holly. Juliette dreams of being a kind of Florence Nightingale of the developing world. She is currently working behind the counter at the local drug store run by Sardeep, the Indian chemist.
Holly is a trained ballerina. Her big dream is to dance with the Royal Ballet. So far she hasn't been able to earn a single penny with her dancing, and continues to 'polish' her skills as a pole dancer at Beechman's Exotic Gentleman's Club.
These three distinctive personalities are at the centre of a cinematic tale of everyday life about people who are obliged to take on jobs just to earn a living, but who live in hope of one day fulfilling their dreams. But the paths to one's goal are sometimes circuitous. And whether we take the path of wisdom or the path of filth, we will eventually arrive at the same enlightened place.


Events: The Space Event with William Orbit

Madonna producer and remixer William Orbit will be making a rare special guest appearance on Tuesday 11 March at The Space (Southern Performance and Creative Energies), Brighton's monthly unique arts and media event. The pioneering recording artist and Grammy winning producer will be exclusively interviewed by the Brighton Music Network's Chief Executive, Lisa Holloway, giving an insight into his acclaimed career, in an intimate and low key environment. The Brighton based event will also include an interview with BBC Radio 4 Senior Announcer Chris Aldridge.
There will be a chance to win some fantastic prizes, including a very special limited edition William Orbit album set, which includes unreleased Madonna songs and other exclusive tracks.

Orbit was the producer of Madonna's much-acclaimed Ray of Light album, which he co-wrote. His other collaborations with the Queen of Pop include Beautiful Stranger and American Pie, and he has remixed various singles such as Erotica and I'll Remember. Orbit's own hits include the hugely popular dance hit Barber's Adagio for Strings and Fascinating Rhythm (the latter under the guise of Bassomatic).

The Space, held at the Joogleberry Playhouse, is open to all and brings together the creative community with high calibre guest interviews. Doors open at 7pm for a prompt 7:30pm start. £5/£3

For more details, visit www.thespace.me.uk or www.williamorbit.com

Thanks to Wayne


Madonna's Gucci Gala

The New York Post published an article about New York Fashion week and one of the highlights is Madonna's gala on Wednesday 06 February:

The most star-studded event comes Wednesday, when Madonna hosts a gala - totally underwritten by the new Gucci store in Trump Tower - on the lawn of the UN to benefit UNICEF and her Raising Malawi charity. Madge's guest list includes Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Sean Combs, Lenny Kravitz, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, Lindsay Lohan, Drew Barrymore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alex Rodriguez, Martha Stewart and Uma Thurman, with Alicia Keys and Rhianna performing.

Thanks to Jonathan


Madonna and Guy to renew wedding vows?

Madonna and Guy Ritchie have been making plans to renew their wedding vows, according to a report.
The couple have decided that a summer ceremony will be the perfect way to put an end to rumours that their marriage is on the rocks.
'Renewing their vows is the one way Guy and Madonna can show the world they are strong,' a source told the News of the World. 'They've worked hard to iron out their differences to get through the tough times.'
'It's going to be a very emotional day and that's why they want the people who are closest to them to share it with them.'
The newspaper claims that only close family and friends will be invited to the service, which is expected to take place at the couple's home in Wiltshire.

From Digital Spy


Madonna cracks the whip on Justin and Timbaland

She may be pushing the big 5-0, but we always knew Madonna would never grow old gracefully.
The Queen of Pop's latest transformation will see her don a dominatrix-style latex catsuit in a raunchier-than-ever video for new single 4 Minutes To Save The World.
We can reveal that in the promo Madge plays - wait for it - a pimp who rescues the planet in an impressive 240 seconds. And it gets better...
Justin Timberlake and US producer Timbaland play her bitches. Nope, we're not sure quite what the f'hell it's all about either.
No doubt her three children will be particularly thrilled to see their mum whipping the two Timbs into shape - and belting out lyrics like: 'Come on boy, I'd like to show my addictive control', and 'You're mine. Just give it up, can't get control.'
The video has been shot over three days in a top-secret location in West London, and included a gruelling all-night shoot yesterday.
In the sexually charged video, Madge cracks the whip and gets her slaves, Justin and Timbaland, to do whatever she wants as she towers over their quivering bodies in killer heels. Careful there Madge, you don't want to do yourself an injury.
The 49-year-old has brought in her fashion-god pals Dolce & Gabbana to create the no-holds-barred outfits.
She's also roped in the winning team behind her Confessions Live sell-out tour in 2006 - including Grammy award-winning Swedish director Jonas Akerlund.
We're told: 'One of the highlights in the video is the nightclub scene. Timbaland eyes Madge up in the darkened room, and they disappear off to get close. The camera cuts to Madonna challenging JT to a dance-off and it is just magnificent. They get up close and personal in the battle of the gyrating hips, with sweat dripping all over their bodies.'

From 3am Girls / Daily Mirror


Madonna's birthday treat for Justin

Justin Timberlake got one heck of a 27th birthday surprise on Thursday (January 31) when Madonna presented him with a cupcake and champagne on the set of her new video, Madge's representative told MTV News.
The clip, for '4 Minutes to Save the World,' is currently being shot in London with director Jonas & Francois and will feature JT as well as Timbaland. The track will appear on Madonna's yet-untitled LP, due this year.

From MTV News