'Green' Means Money, Not Environmentalism to Madonna
Madonna had better clean up her business before she starts cleaning up the world.
The Material Mom is the headliner at tomorrow night's Live Earth show from London's Wembley Stadium. But guess what? For her, the word green means money, not the environment.
Madonna, who seems to be on top of all her many business endeavors, has actually invested about $2.7 million dollars in companies that are creating the destruction that Live Earth is trying to raise awareness about. She has invested in several companies named as the biggest corporate polluters in the world.
It's a cruel irony that Madonna's Ray of Light Foundation owns blocks of shares in companies that folks like Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio would like to see punished and rehabilitated for their attitudes toward global warming, climate control and basic pollution.
The companies include Alcoa, Ingersoll Rand, Weyerhaeuser, and several others associated with oil exploration, digging, and refining including British Petroleum, Schlumberger (a chief competitor of Halliburton), Devon Energy, Peabody Energy, Emerson Electric, Kimberly Clark and Weatherford International.
In 2002, the University of Massachusetts' Political Research Institute ranked Alcoa No. 9 on a list of all-time toxic American companies. And I don't mean toxic as in toxic bachelor. This is toxic as in air pollution.
The same UMass PRI study ranked Ford Motor Company at No. 7 on the Toxic Top 10. Northrop Grumman was No. 17. Weyerhaeuser was No. 42. Emerson Electric was No. 56. 3M Corp was No. 70. Kimberly Clark was No. 96.
You get the picture. Madonna's Ray of Light Foundation has stock in each of these companies. Her last published tax statement claims $4.2 million in corporate stock, and only $620,000 in donations to other charities including her pet project: the Kabbalah Center.
Madonna even has 175,000 shares of Ford Motor Company, which in 2005 — the last year for which Ray of Light Foundation's tax form is available — had only one hybrid SUV in its fleet. Even now, but certainly then, Ford was/is not known as a green company. The only obvious thing Ford and Madonna have in common is Detroit — although it could be argued that only Ford has retained its Midwest accent.
Take Weyerhaeuser Corporation, a "forest products" company that is basically in the business of killing trees for paper and wood for housing. In 2005, Madonna owed roughly 1,100 shares valued at an average price of $63. Since then, the share price is up to around $80. If her number of shares remained constant, she's made a nice profit over the last two years.
But Weyerhaeuser is no friend of the green community. A story posted on the Rainforest Action Network details Weyerhaeuser's ongoing fight with environmental activists who call the Seattle-based corporation "a bad investment" and "one of America's worst environmental performers."
Even if more than half the Network's characterizations of Weyerhaeuser are hyperbolic, one has to wonder why Madonna has put even a penny into the company if she has any feeling for environmental causes. But that's an inconvenient question for the material girl as she prepares to close the Live Earth show live from London.
Worse — public relations-wise — than Weyerhaeuser is Madonna's investment in Alcoa, the Aluminum Company of America. Alcoa is under fire all over the world, especially in Iceland, for building aluminum smelters that some feel threaten the environment.
The Ray of Light Foundation's Schedule of Realized Gains and Losses is revealing in many ways. It shows that Madonna, while eager to espouse politically correct beliefs, simply does not put her money where her mouth is. The Ray of Light Foundation, for example, has only a few hundred shares of one media company: Viacom. Madonna didn't even carry an investment in Warner Music Group, the company that releases her music.
Avril Lavigne couldn't pronounce David Bowie's name properly on a Grammy telecast once, but she knows something about music from before she was around. Avril is being sued by '70s pop group the Rubinoos who claim Lavigne stole their hit "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" and turned in into her hit "(I Wanna Be Your) Girlfriend."
She's going to have a tough time explaining this one. It's just as bad as John Legend taking "Stormy" for his "Save Room" or John Mayer's Curtis Mayfield "tribute" "Waiting for the World to Change." Counting on short memories is not a way to have a pop music career.
Meanwhile, it's been pointed out that the Hollywood house being used for Jeremy Piven's Ari character on "Entourage" actually belongs to "Scary Movie" movie producer Bo Zenga and his wife, journalist Zorianna Kit. Zenga is currently involved in a long-standing legal dispute with Paramount's chief Brad Grey via the Anthony Pellicano case over alleged wiretapping, among other things.
Sponsorship slots for corporations are just about sold out for this month's very cool Mods and Rockers Film Festival in Los Angeles. The weekend is going to be a blast with lots of celebs. The highlight: a 40th anniversary celebration of D.A. Pennebaker's "Monterey Pop" with all the living participants reuniting under one roof including Lou Adler and Michelle Phillips.
Hy Zaret, 99, died this week. He wrote "Unchained Melody," the Righteous Brothers' hit that has been covered by everyone. The song also got an award last month from the Songwriters Hall of Fame, which tried to give it to him in 2006, but he wanted to wait until he felt better. Alas, Zaret didn't make it in 2007 either, but it's a great song, and he was a great writer.
Bill Pinckney died Wednesday at age 81. The last original member of the Drifters, Pinckney was still touring, singing "There Goes My Baby," "Under the Boardwalk" and "On Broadway." Another legend fondly remembered, and missed.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is divorcing his wife and having an affair with a local TV anchorwoman. Isn't this the same annoying guy who worked the room at every Oscar and Grammy party, dragging his then clueless wife by the hand through crowds and up to stars who didn't know who he was? You bet he is.