Events: Madonna's 50th Birthday Party in Brisbane
UK Press: The Observer

Traverse City buzzing at a chance to see Madonna

Reservations for Saturday started pouring in more than a month ago to Red Ginger.
Tables usually are booked a few days in advance at the popular Asian-themed restaurant in Traverse City. But this won't be any old day for businesses and residents of the tranquil cherry capital.
It's Madonna day, and that changes everything.
The 49-year-old Material Girl is coming Saturday to the Traverse City Film Festival to introduce her documentary about the orphans of Malawi, 'I Am Because We Are.'
Locals are quick to point out that Madonna has visited the region privately. Her father's Ciccone Vineyards and Winery is located in nearby Suttons Bay (and it's a site of a reception tonight for festival sponsors).
But now Madonna will be part of a very public event in her home state. And the world's biggest pop diva is doing it at a time when her personal life, always a hot gossip item, is under extra-intense scrutiny.
'It's definitely generated a lot of excitement. A lot. It's the talk of the town,' says Mark Haworth, manager of Red Ginger, who hopes Madonna can drop by the VIP room that will be set aside for special festival guests.
The plan is for Madonna to fly in Saturday from New York, where she's rehearsing for her upcoming world tour (which currently doesn't have a metro Detroit stop). She's supposed to depart later that night.
She's expected to introduce the film at a sold-out 8 p.m. screening at the State Theatre (a sold-out audience at the nearby City Opera House will see a simulcast of her appearance).
A possible question-and-answer session afterward hasn't been confirmed.
'It's going to be an electrifying moment. There's only going to be 500 people in the theater. Usually, if you want to see Madonna, you're in a 20,000-seat arena,' says the festival's founder, Oscar-winning director Michael Moore, who invited Madonna to be part of this year's lineup. 'Ten minutes into the film, you're going to forget about all the noise that surrounds the celebrity aspect of this and get into the film in a deep and personal way.'
Moore's prediction just may come true. Residents of Traverse City sound committed to keeping things as civilized and frenzy-free as possible.
Madonna mania may be the norm in the tabloids, but that's not how they roll in northern Michigan.
'We tend to be kind of protective of our celebrities,' says Mike Norton of the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau. 'One of the worries here, if there is a worry, is not having Madonna around, but that some people would create a crush experience. We're just not like that here. People come here to relax and get away from that kind of stuff.'
In other words, if anyone behaves rudely on Saturday, it's likely to be the paparazzi, not a native. 'We'd be embarrassed if someone came up here and wouldn't have the space to relax,' says Norton.
Celebrity media outlets like People magazine and the syndicated TV show 'Extra' are set to cover Madonna's visit.
'She's helping us in so many ways to get the word out about the festival, because everything she does is so interesting, in so many ways, to people,' says the festival's executive director, Deb Lake.

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From Detroit Free Press - thanks to Sharon


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