home page | news index | 2004 News » Page 4

News and professional editorials

Madonna Pays Up In [Bourdin] Copyright Flap

from Yahoo Launch / E! On-Line

by Julie Keller

May 26, 2004

Apparently, the idea behind Madonna's "Hollywood" video was not such a virginal concept after all.

The Material One has settled a copyright lawsuit that claimed she ripped off the work of late French erotic photographer Guy Bourdin in her most recent video from her American Life album.

The Smoking Gun reports that Madonna has reached an agreement with Bourdin's son, Samuel, over the content of her video. Details of the arrangement have not been revealed. But Madonna has not acknowledged any wrongdoing in the incident.

Samuel Bourdin had sued Madonna for blatantly scamming his dad's pictures to create her video. When he filed the claim in September, he said that the video was an exact reproduction of at least 11 photographs that had been published in French Vogue from the mid '50s to the late '80s.

"It's one thing to draw inspiration; it's quite another to simply plagiarize the heart and soul of my father's work," Samuel Bourdin said in a statement at the time.

Included in his evidence in the case were a series of side-by-side comparisons of the original photographs and stills from the video--evidence that Bourdin claimed was indisputable.

For his part, Bourdin is apparently thrilled with the results of his endeavors. His lawyer, John Koegel, called the settlement "very, very successful," though he failed to comment on the exact amount per the terms of the agreement.

Reps for Madonna could not be immediately reached for comment.

In all, it hasn't been a fabulous week for the Material One. She had to cancel Tuesday's performance for her Re-Invention Tour in Los Angeles due to a bad case of the stomach flu. The show is rescheduled for Wednesday.

She also recently canceled three shows on the tour that were scheduled to take place in Israel. The official reason is that she got nervous about putting on a show in such a volatile region of the world. But some reports claim she nixed the dates due to threats on her children from Palestinian terrorist groups. . . .

Madonna Tour: Does She Need the Cash?

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,121045,00.html

May 27, 2004

Story:

What would force a 45-year-old multi-millionaire pop icon [Madonna] to go on the road once again, especially if it meant risking health and taking time from her family? One would think Madonna is past all that. I'm sure as she cancelled her Los Angeles show last night for the flu and read the negative reviews of opening night, she was thinking the same thing.

But the pop queen must go on. In fact, Madonna needs to tour, and here's the simple answer to why she'd put herself through all this: cold cash. Even with her vast wealth, investments, etc, the singer probably needs it by now.

You see, Madge — for whom no one will be having a telethon anytime soon — is not the money machine she was in the late 1980s. According to Forbes, Madonna has only made their Celebrity 100 list three times in the last 11 years and once in the last five years. True, in 2002 she grossed $43 million from her Drowned World Tour, but she finished overall at number 17 for money earned among entertainers.

On the other hand, she landed at number 4 for the amount of power she wielded that year. One thing's for sure, Madonna gets a lot of press even when she's not raking in the bucks.

If Forbes is right, in 2003 Madonna made less than Bill Clinton, who picked up $9 million for writing his book and doing speaking engagements.

Madonna's problems earning fresh income from songwriting royalties or publishing began once she stopped using professional songwriters for her hits and started writing songs that weren't hits on her own.

For example: although they are closely identified with her, Madonna did not write her most popular hits "Holiday," "Borderline," "Papa Don't Preach," "Like a Virgin" or "Material Girl." (For "Borderline," one of Madonna's first hits, Reggie Lucas actually just cannibalized another of his hits, Stephanie Mills' "Never Knew Love Like This Before."

They are almost interchangeable.) On most others, like "Into the Groove" and "Like a Prayer," she shared credit with at least one songwriter. Still radio staples in 2004, those songs make money for their writers and not for Madonna.

Before 1990, Madonna rarely even put her name on a song for a co-writing credit. If she did, it was for filler, not a hit. She only started that practice around that year, with the "Like a Prayer" album, adding her name to songs by Patrick Leonard and by Stephen Bray, each of whom had previously written for her. Not a great songwriter, she "contributed" to the songs' composition and wisely took a cut of the publishing royalties.

Only one track of the 17 on Madonna's greatest hits album, "The Immaculate Collection," issued in 1990, is credited solely to her: "Lucky Star." Of the other 16, five lack her name completely. The other 11 are collaborations, with two of them getting only "additional lyrics" by Madonna, thus diminishing her cut of the profits.

But after 1990, Madonna — believing she'd become a great writer — changed collaborators. Bray and Leonard were succeeded by Shep Pettibone, William Orbit and Mirwais. The sound went from pop to electronic, and, in the process, traded sensuality for mechanics.

It's almost impossible to name a Madonna song or even hum one that's come out since 1990 even though many of them were video or radio hits. How about "Mer Girl"? Don't know that one? What about "Deeper and Deeper," "Bad Girl," "Bedtime Story," or "Frozen"? The theme from "Die Another Day"? Nothing, huh? "Ray of Light," a hit, was more admired than it was beloved.

Essentially, she has her name on a lot of forgettable records.

Madonna's new publishing philosophy of adding her name to songs was almost done too late. By that time, the damage was done and the big hits were credited to others. Madonna's plight, you could say, was similar to those of other great singers and performers from the pre-singer/songwriter era who only recorded but didn't write their hits.

That's because there is no performance royalty for airplay. When you hear a song on the radio, only its writer is paid a royalty. If the singer is just singing it, even if it's a hit, they are not getting any benefit from it other than fame. Oldies radio staples from Motown, Stax, the Brill Building era and even Elvis Presley are included in this.

The decline in album sales overall for artists of her generation hasn't helped the bottom line either. Madonna's last album, "American Life," never even went platinum, selling a meager 637,000 copies, according to SoundScan. Those numbers are frightening when you have to support a husband, children, staff, a manager and a personal lifestyle that's platinum card, five-star and over the top.

For example, Madonna reportedly gave the Kabbalah organization a $5 million gift to build a London headquarters. She also turned over royalties from her two children's books, which sold well enough and probably generated some income. At the rate things are going, she may be asking for all of it back any day now.

Madonna's Drawing Power Not as Strong in Some Areas

From New York Daily News

June 2004

In fact, Madonna could have packed Giants Stadium for several nights. But her drawing power isn’t as strong in some other cities, so her show had to be scaled for 20,000-seaters rather than the 50,000-seat jumbo types.

Rabbi Boteach Responds to Madonna's P.R. person, Liz Rosenberg

June 2004

Excerpts:

“How tragic that sixty years after feminism rightly demanded that women cease being treated as the lecherous man’s plaything and instead be accorded the dignity of an equally intelligent and dignified member of society, Madonna has been allowed to undo so much of that progress with barely a whimper of protest.

“But while it is unbecoming of responsible feminist leaders not to speak out at Madonna’s wholesale vulgarization of the female image, it would be downright scandalous for Jewish religious leaders not to object to Madonna being promoted as the foremost practitioner of Judaism in the world. Judaism and Kabbalah are, above all else, moral disciplines that demand a striving for moral excellence. Stripping on stage and calling oneself a Kabbalist are mutually exclusive.

“For Madonna to put herself forward as a spiritual spokesperson while continuing to degrade women by simulating sex acts at music concerts, portray full nudity in her movies, and to ridicule lesbians by performing same-sex kisses merely for TV ratings, is a mockery of her claims to a life of spiritual renewal based on the teachings of the Kabbalah.

Las Vegas Sun

June 1, 2004

During his show Prince took a few digs at some other artists currently on tour.

"Las Vegas, you made the right choice tonight," Prince said, making a clear reference to the Madonna concert going on at the same time at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

He also said several times that there was "no lip-syncing going on here tonight," nor canned music, a gentle swipe at Britney Spears as well as Madonna.

Madonna Wimps Out

http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/25326.htm

by By Julia Gorin, from The New York Post

June 8, 2004

ISN'T Madonna supposed to be controversial and independent? Then why did she cancel all three Israel stops on her "Reinvention Tour"? At least now we know how she's reinventing herself: as someone who plays it safe.

The whole tour, in fact, plays it safe.

It takes nothing to spout antiwar messages and to bash Republicans, President Bush and the U.S. military. Nor is there any longer anything provocative about getting naked and simulating heterosexual and lesbian sex.

Antics that target "decent folk" aren't risky — she's made herself very rich over the years by selling that tired shtick.

The truth is, Madonna hasn't pushed any envelope in a long time. Similarly, she understands that it's a lot safer to diss Jews than to diss Arabs. Jews only kvetch; Arabs might kill.

To be fair, Madonna is still shameless. After all, she's snubbing the Jews after flaunting her study of the Kabbalah for years now.

It gets more pathetic.

Madonna told "Access Hollywood" that it's her manager who isn't letting her do the Israel shows, and that if she had her way, she would go.

No, Madonna isn't one to get her way.

Contrast this with Melanie Chisholm (formerly Sporty Spice), who played a concert in Tel Aviv in 2001 just months after Intifada II broke out.

The Associated Press reported then that she told the sold-out crowd, "I am not at all afraid to be here. I have seen reports of what is going on in this country. I have fans here, and if they are living here and are OK, then I'm OK, too."

In other words, the former Material Girl turns out to be more timid than a Spice Girl.