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March 2011

Malawian staff sue Madonna for 'unfair dismissal'

Eight ex-employees of a Malawian charity founded by Madonna are suing the pop diva for unfair dismissal after being fired from her $15-million girls' academy, a court official said Monday.
'The staff at Madonna's charity Raising Malawi accuse the singer of terminating their employment due to (a) change in strategy which had not been properly explained to them,' the official told AFP.
'The staff are demanding their terminal benefits because they think their employment was terminated without proper procedures,' added the source, an official of the country's industrial relations court who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Led by the former head of the much-publicised girls' academy, Anjimile Oponya, the senior staff members also claim they are being 'forced to sign a discriminatory termination agreement which is unfair and unconstitutional,' the official said.
Madonna announced in January that she was overhauling plans for Raising Malawi, which was originally to be a school that would offer 500 scholarships to girls from poor backgrounds.
But the pop star said she realised the academy 'would not serve enough children in a country where 33 percent of Malawian girls attend secondary school'.
She said she wanted to 'reach thousands not hundreds of girls with education and would expand the charity's mission and change its management'.
'We are focused on an approach, which builds schools within communities across the country,' she said.
'The implementation of my original vision is now on a much bigger scale. I want to do more and I want to do it better. We are in the process of implementing several changes and additions to the management of Raising Malawi both in the US and Malawi,' she said.
Malawi's education standards have plummeted because of overcrowded classrooms, shortages of teachers and learning materials.
Madonna has adopted two orphans from the impoverished country, David and Mercy, among an army of one million orphaned children whose parents have died of AIDS.
She funds several orphanages, including Home of Hope in Mchinji, 100 kilometres (62 miles) from the capital, Lilongwe, where she first adopted David in 2006.
The orphanages feed, clothe and house 25,000 orphans in central Malawi.

From AFP Via Yahoo! News

Isaac: Madonna wanted pecs appeal

Oscar Isaac has admitted stripping off for Madonna on the set of her new film was 'incredibly intimidating'.
The Sucker Punch actor filmed a passionate love scene for the Queen of Pop's latest movie project W.E, playing a Russian security guard who embarks on an affair with New York socialite Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish).
Oscar said of his superstar director: 'She was adamant that both men and women scream when I take my shirt off so I had to do a lot of training for that. I was passable by the end she said!'
He went on: 'That was something actually. Having to do a love scene with Abbie (Cornish) and then having Madonna yelling direction about how to make love better was definitely a surreal moment.'
The film, which Madonna also co-wrote, focuses on the affair between King Edward VIII (James D'Arcy) and American divorcee Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough), plus the contemporary romance between Oscar and Abbie's characters. Oscar revealed gym fan Madonna was keen to ensure his physique looked the part.
'(It was) incredibly intimidating, she really inspected to make sure every muscle was in its place. But it was an amazing experience doing that film and I'm really excited to see it.'


Madonna wanted to be Elizabeth Taylor

If Madonna could've been anyone else besides Madonna, she would've been Elizabeth Taylor.
Madonna told Taylor at her 65th birthday party, she grew up idolizing her. She said 'I wanted to ride horses with my long, lustrous hair trailing behind me. I wanted to swing on a swing set with a velvet dress on. I wanted violet eyes and translucent skin.'
She said she also wanted the 16-inch waistline of Taylor's youth and 'wanted Montgomery Clift, Paul Newman, James Dean and Rock Hudson to put their arms around it.'

From The Associated Press / Brandon Sun

Madonna-backed group ends plans for Malawi school

A charitable group backed by pop star Madonna has scrapped its plan to build a school for impoverished girls in Malawi due to mismanagement, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
The organization, Raising Malawi, has ousted its board of directors and replaced its members with a new set of officials that includes Madonna and her manager, the Times reported.
'A thoughtful decision has been made to discontinue plans for the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls, as it was originally conceived,' Michael Berg, co-founder of Raising Malawi, said Thursday in an e-mail to the center's members who had contributed to the project, according to the Times.
Berg, a co-director of the spiritual and educational organization Kabbalah Center International in Los Angeles, could not be reached for comment on Thursday night.
The Times said the effort to build the Malawi school had collapsed after spending $3.8 million on the project and its executive director left in October amid criticism of his management style and cost overruns.
Madonna lent $11 million of her money to the organization. She has been a frequent visitor to Malawi and has adopted two children from the country.
On Thursday, the singer issued a statement to the Times saying she was still intent on working with Raising Malawi.
'There's a real education crisis in Malawi,' she said in the statement given to the Times. 'Sixty-seven percent of girls don't go to secondary school, and this is simply unacceptable.'
A spokeswoman for Madonna could not be reached on Thursday night.

From Reuters Via Yahoo! News

Sugarland and Little Big Town cover Like a Prayer

Tanner Stransky at wrote this piece below on the Sugarland/Little Big Town country version of Madonna's Like a Prayer:

Should Madonna’s 'Like a Prayer' maybe have been a country song this whole time? Don’t worry: I realize what I’ve opened myself up to by asking that question.
But seriously, that’s what I asked myself as I watched this cover of the classic Madge song by Sugarland and Little Big Town, recorded live at a concert in Bloomington, IL, on Friday night. It’s real good.
I think my affection for 'Like a Prayer' as a country song is a three-parter: 1) I’m so familiar with the song. Like, what cover of 'Like a Prayer' wouldn’t be good? 2) The semi-religious undertones (overtones?) in the song—well, at least the use of the word 'prayer' - very much seem at home in any country song. Right? Seems like it to me, at least, and the Sugarland/LBT folks give it a pureness. And, lastly, 3) Jennifer Nettles just rules; her voice gives me chills. Throw in Little Big Town - who Sugarland is pretty regularly collaborating with at this point—and it’s just all that much better.
This six-some did Madonna justice. Watch here:

Thanks to Derek

Events: Madonna Yoga Flow Party in Ottawa

Where: Rama Lotus Yoga Centre, Ottawa, Ontario

When: Friday 01 April from 7:30-9.00pm

What: Get into your groove and celebrate with a playful Ashtanga-based yoga class to the music of Madonna (yes, THE Madonna). Music arrangement by MixMaster Mike, (aka. Mike Block). During the 90-minutes you have a chance to work on your strength, flexibility and definitely lots of sweat. Show up early, this class is busy!

Cost: April's Madonna Flow Party will be done on a donation basis with 100% of the proceeds going to the relief efforts in Japan c/o CARE Canada.

For more information visit:

Thanks to Jennifer

Liz Smith on 'W.E.'

US columnist Liz Smith has written this small snippet of news about Madonna's new film in her latest column at

Madonna is just about done editing her film, 'W.E.' The star wrote and directed this tale of a modern young woman (Abbie Cornish) who is fascinated by the historic 'fairytale' romance of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Frustratingly, I cannot say too much about the film. But I do feel safe in saying that Madonna is going to surprise just about everybody with her finesse here. 'W.E.' is lush, compelling, romantic, funny and tragic. The pop icon is one hell of a director. But that’s no surprise to me.

Thanks to Alex

Madonna in Out: Young and gritty photos from 1982

Out magazine’s Ladies We Love issue, which featured pop chanteuse Britney Spears on its first cover that came out last week, just keeps delivering the gay goods: The issue’s second and final cover has hit, and it’s another lady they (and we) love from the world of music: Madonna.
But they didn’t put together just another profile of Madge. Instead, they’ve constructed a pretty cool (and never-before-seen!) photo portfolio from one of Madonna’s earliest photo shoots, just before she was about to hit it big. The gritty photos - hot in and around the apartment building that Madonna lived in in New York City’s East Village - were taken by now-famed photographer Richard Corman, who contributes a short essay about this experience with the diva to the package, in the summer of 1982.
Corman recounts how Madonna was already an icon to the kids in the nabe. 'She was like the Pied Piper of the neighborhood - they loved her,' Corman remembers. 'They followed her, they danced with her, they sang with her. It was something they did on a daily basis, and it was remarkable. We just walked up and they gathered around. She put the boom box on - it was her music, though I don’t remember which song - and they just started dancing and singing. She was so alive and unpretentious. She was fierce, determined. Nothing was going to stop her.'
Later, Corman recounts how things have changed for both he and Madonna since this innocent little shoot: 'For me, like her, when I do a shoot now, I’ve got eight people around me - but that day it was just the two of us.'
It’s kinda sweet, thinking about Madonna as just a girl with a boom box and a bunch of neighborhood kids on her heels, right? Do you love these photos? Do they take you back?

From The Music Mix /

Express Yourself: International Download Day

On Thursday 17 March Madonna fans around the world will attempt to take her classic track Express Yourself to the top of the iTunes To make the project work, fans all have to download the same version of the track, and that is the version on the Celebration Deluxe Edition on iTunes.

For more information visit

Direct links to different iTunes stores can be viewed at

US Magazines: Out

US magazine Out have previewed the Richard Corman images that are featured in the upcoming April 2011 issue of the magazine.

A year before her first album, an unknown Madonna invited Richard Corman to photograph her in and around her New York City walk-up. The pictures he took that day, published here for the first time, capture the energy and vitality of a woman destined to become a legend. Plus: See an extra 18 web-exclusive images!

To view all the pictures in full size and read the article visit

'Stalker' Arrested In Madonna's Home

An alleged 'stalker' was arrested after breaking into Madonna's home.
Grzegorz Matlok, 29, was wrestled to the ground by bodyguards at the 52-year-old star's £10 million 10-bedroom mansion in London's Marylebone area at 5.30am on Saturday morning (12.03.11) after being found clutching several of the 'Material Girl' hitmaker's possessions.
Despite having a huge security team and a state of the art CCTV system in place, the intruder - who the singer's bodyguards told police was a 'stalker' - gained entry to the Georgian townhouse by smashing a side window while the singer was in the US mourning the death of her grandmother Elsie Mae Fortin.
A senior police source told The Sun newspaper: 'Something dreadful has happened here. The security around the world's most famous pop star should be impregnable.'
Polish-born Matlok was charged with burglary last night (13.03.11) and is now due to appear before magistrates in Westminster today (14.03.11).
Madonna and her family were in the USA at the time of the arrest.


First Look: Madonna's April 2011 Out cover

Almost three decades ago, and a year before her first album was released, a then-unknown Madonna invited Richard Corman to photograph her in and around her New York City walk-up. The pictures he took that day, unpublished until now, capture the energy and vitality of a woman destined to become a legend.

Check out this sneak peek of Madonna on the cover of our April 'Ladies We Love' issue and then come back to on Monday, March 14 at 11am ET to see the full cover, all of the never-before-published photos, and to read Corman’s personal account of shooting Madonna in 1982.


Madonna on 'Every Mother Counts' documentary soundtrack

Starbucks will release a companion CD to Christy Turlington Burns' documentary 'No Woman No Cry' that will include music from Rosanne Cash, the Dixie Chicks, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Sinead O'Connor, Gwyneth Paltrow and others.
The 'Every Mother Counts' CD will be released April 12. Starbucks will donate $8 from the sale of each CD between April 12 and May 9 to CARE for its maternal health programs in coffee growing countries. The Oprah Winfrey Network, OWN, will broadcast the film on May 7.
Turlington Burns founded the organization Every Mother Counts last year and has screened her film at health conferences and film festivals in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, India, Guatemala, Poland and Zanzibar. The film follows expecting mothers in four countries - Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala and the Unites States - as they face obstacles to receiving healthcare.

The complete track listing:

Martha Wainwright 'Leave Behind'
Carla Bruni 'Le Loup, La Biche et Le Chevalier (Une Chanson Douce)'
Gwyneth Paltrow 'This Woman's Work'
Madonna 'Promise to Try'
Patti Scialfa 'Children's Song'
Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon 'There and Back Again, Pt. 2'
Angelique Kidjo 'Sweet Lullaby'
Ani DiFranco 'Present/Infant' (remix)
Dixie Chicks 'Lullaby'
Rosanne Cash 'Motherless Children' (acoustic version)
Sheryl Crow 'Lullaby for Wyatt'
Jennifer Lopez 'One Step at a Time'
Karen Elson 'The Last Laugh'
Sinead O'Connor 'Petit Poulet'
Martha Wainwright 'No Woman, No Cry'


Madonna's grandmother dies, aged 99

Madonna's grandmother Elsie Mae Fortin has died in the singer's hometown of Bay City, MI at the age of 99.
Fortin reportedly passed away from an undisclosed ailment at her home while surrounded by family and friends.
According to local newspaper The Bay City Times, Fortin helped to raise Madonna after the 'Miles Away' star's mother succumbed to breast cancer in 1963.
The popstar's rep Liz Rosenberg released an official statement, which called for the press to respect Madonna's privacy.
'I'm sorry, but Madonna will not be issuing any statements or conversing with the media regarding her grandmother. It is totally a personal matter to her,' Rosenberg noted.

The singer's father Silvio Ciccone praised Fortin as a 'friendly, loving and caring' woman who did a 'great job' taking care of her family.
It is not yet known if Madonna will attend Fortin's funeral, which is to be held on Saturday.

From Digital Spy

Madonna on the cover of Out magazine

For the first time in Out's history, the magazine is dedicating their entire April issue to the women who inspire, scandalize, educate, and excite us - in a different way than they excite the other boys. And they're celebrating the landmark moment with another first for them - two different covers.

One will feature the indelible Britney Spears shot exclusively for Out by Ruven Afanador and the other will feature never-seen-before photos of Madonna shot by photographer Richard Corman in 1982 just months before her career skyrocketed.

On Monday 14 March will feature their exclusive Madonna photos and begin to roll out the other Ladies We Love featured in the issue.

Out's April 2011 issue featuring Madonna and Britney Spears on dual covers will be on newsstands on Tuesday 29 March.

Thanks to Matthew

William Orbit talks about his work on 'W.E.'

Madonna has been touted for Oscar success with her debut feature film 'W.E.'.
The 52-year-old singer has directed the movie - a two-tier tale about Britain's King Edward VIII's relationship with American Wallis Simpson and a modern story regarding a woman called Wally Simpson - and while many are expecting it to fail, music producer William Orbit says people will be surprised by how good it is.
William - who has worked with Madonna on the soundtrack for the movie - said: 'I've done two pieces of score music for the film.'
'It's hard to describe but they're quite moody as they come at pivotal moment during the romance. I've watched the film several times and it's really good.'
'It's definitely Oscar-worthy and I'm not just saying that. I wouldn't comment on her past acting abilities so you know by me saying what I have that it's really a great film. I definitely think Madonna could be up for an Oscar for Best Director.'
William says Madonna - who will debut the film at the Venice Film Festival in September - is great working with people even though can be quite 'autocratic'.
He told 'She has a very good eye and a great way with people. I'm not saying anything new by revealing she's autocratic but as long as people share the same vision then it works and this film really does.'


Madonna: Directing 'in her blood'

Madonna is a 'natural' filmmaker, actress Abbie Cornish has said.
The Australian starlet plays Wally Winthrop in the romantic drama WE, which the Queen of Pop co-wrote and directed, and reckons Madonna is just at ease behind the cameras as she is in front of them.
'Working with Madonna was great - it was different because she comes from a music background, but she's a natural director, that's for sure, and it's in her blood, because throughout her life she's dealt with choreography, dance and orchestrating things in that way,' she told The Playlist.
'It was definitely a forte for her during the process of filmmaking.'
While making the film was enjoyable, Abbie admitted it was one of the toughest shoots because of all the material they had to get through in a limited amount of time.
'There was so much in the script. I was amazed, we shot it all,' she recalled.
'I know Madonna had to work hard in the editing room because it could be like a four hour film - you have two stories that run parallel. So you have two whole lives that you are trying to express and tell, and get [the film] under two hours.'
The film focuses on the affair between King Edward VIII (James D'Arcy) and American divorcee Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough), plus a contemporary romance between a married woman, played by Abbie, and a Russian security guard (Oscar Isaac).

From Belfast Telegraph

Madonna's New Movie To Premiere At Venice Film Festival

Madonna's new film will get its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
The 52-year-old singer has directed new movie 'W.E.' - a two-tier tale about Britain's King Edward VIII's relationship with American Wallis Simpson and a modern story regarding a woman called Wally Simpson - and the full feature will be shown to critics and audiences at the Venice Lido during the September event.
The film stars Abbie Cornish, Andrea Riseborough and Laurence Fox, while 14-year-old daughter Lourdes has been given a cameo role.
All the stars are expected to descend on the Italian city for the premiere, according to The Daily Mail
Madonna - whose only other directing credit is 2008's 'Filth and Wisdom', which starred Richard E. Grant and Eugene Hutz - showed a few scenes from the film at last month's Berlin Film Festival in a bid to pick up distributors.
Last year, Madonna said she had put her music career on hold so she could concentrate on her family life and the movie.
The mother-of-four said: 'I haven't really been focused as much as I should be on the music part of my career, because the movie has consumed every inch of me.'
'Between that and my four children, I don't have the time or energy for anything else.'


Lindsay Lohan kept out of Madonna Oscar party

Madonna's and Demi Moore's Oscar party was no country for Lindsay Lohan.
Sources tells us the beleaguered beauty - who was recently charged with felony grand theft for allegedly stealing a $2,500 necklace from a jewelry store - was turned away from the diva duo's soiree at talent manager Guy Oseary's Beverly Hills home Sunday night, and not even handsome hottie Josh Brolin could get her inside.
Lohan showed up uninvited to the party around 11 p.m. with her brother Michael and her security detail. According to one insider, she was confident she would get in because Oseary is an executive at the talent management firm Untitled Entertainment, which represents her as well as Moore and Madonna.
Alas, the connection proved useless. Lohan was told she could not join the party.
To make matters worse, we hear that as she was pleading her case, Brolin rolled up and was shot down in his gallant attempt to help.
After the 'True Grit' actor greeted her with a kiss on the cheek, LiLo asked Brolin if he could get her in the door.
Brolin obliged, but another source familiar with the incident tells us the party's gatekeepers firmly held their ground.
We're told Brolin reacted by saying, 'Don't you know who this is?'
The door people replied that yes, they did know who Lohan was - and she wasn't coming in.
Even Brolin's insistence that 'She's with me' fell on deaf ears. Eventually he ambled inside without her, leaving the recently rehabbed actress to proclaim, 'This is so humiliating.'
Lohan eventually gave up on getting inside and headed to the post-Oscars party that James Franco was supposed to be hosting at Supperclub on Hollywood Blvd. The club adjoins the Writers Room, a bar in which Franco has said he's a partner.
Spokespersons for Lohan, Madonna, Moore and Brolin did not respond to our requests for comment by deadline.

From the NY Daily News

Madonna movie photoshoot thought too 'lesbian'

Photos Herb Ritts took of Madonna and Rosanna Arquette during a publicity shoot for their hit film Desperately Seeking Susan were initially deemed too 'lesbian,' according to veteran publicist Reid Rosefelt on My Life as a Blog.
Rosefelt, who was working as a publicist on the 1985 mistaken identity comedy, recalls the day he first told Madonna that Ritts would be photographing her and costar Arquette for publicity photos and, possibly, the film's poster.
'Is he gay?' Madonna asked. 'Gay men take good pictures of me.'
Rosefelt recalls that during the meeting for the film's ad campaign an agency was pitching a campaign that traded on the film's disillusioned housewife plot, with Arquette’s face on a toaster and Madonna’s face on a piece of toast. Thinking the images were terrible, Rosefelt pulled out photos from the Ritts session, causing a hush in the room.
'Some people at Orion thought that the image would make people think it was a lesbian movie,' Roseflet writes. 'Thankfully the film’s producers, Midge Sanford and Sarah Pillsbury, were able to make their case.'
The late photographer would go on to capture some of the most famous images of the music icon, including the cover of her 1986 album True Blue, as well as direct the video for her single 'Cherish.'
Rosefelt writes about having spent a lot of time alone with pre-superstardom Madonna during the shoot, where she even asked his opinion of one of her unreleased songs. Years later he ran into Madonna at an art shop and re-introduced himself, saying that he worked with her on Susan.
'A lot of people worked on Desperately Seeking Susan,' she said, as she walked past him.