It must have been a good year for Madonna in 2006.
According to new tax filings, the Material Mom deposited a cool $5 million into her tax-free charitable fund, the Ray of Light Foundation.
It's more than Madonna's ever put into the fund in one year. Her average is $1 million.
What's curious about this year's filing though is how little the Material Mom then paid out to other charities — the purpose, one assumes, for having a foundation. Of the $5 mil, Madonna gave away only $341,124. Most of it — $250,000—went to the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles.
The rest was divided among Elton John's AIDS Foundation ($31,124), T.J. Martell Foundation, the UCLA Foundation and the Boston Conservatory. She also gave $5,000 to Ionia Inc., a progressive community in Alaska.
It's anyone's guess why Madonna's parked $5 million in a tax-free account for now. She religiously gives money to Kabbalah, a tax-sanctioned religion started by a former insurance salesman who believes in reincarnation and telepathy, among other things. Kabbalah is now making inroads in Africa where they have started yet another foundation called Raising Malawi through their Spirituality for Kids Foundation. It's possible the $5 million is being held in abeyance for that fund.
Madonna's already written a series of children's books with proceeds going to Kabbalah. In September, she launches a new series aimed at "tweens" aged 9 to 12, again Kabbalah-themed with profits earmarked for that organization.
According to reports that started in the New York Post this week, she's considering making her next recording contract deal with Live Nation, the spin-off of Clear Channel Communications, and leaving Warner Music after 25 years. The deal could be worth up to $100 million, reports say.
Recently in this space I reported that Ray of Light had made numerous investments in infamous polluting entities, which was ironic since she performed at Live Earth. But Ray of Light also has been buying stock in Live Nation, which isn't so surprising.
Director Steven Spielberg let a big cat out of the bag Thursday. Karen Allen is back in “Indiana Jones 4” as Marion Ravenwood, Indy’s first love. The character helped kick off the series in 1981’s phenomenal “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
In fact, although Spielberg didn’t say it, Allen returns as the mother of Indy’s son, played by 21-year-old actor Shia LaBoeuf. That’s the same kid who’s on the cover of Vanity Fair this month.
Sources say that Allen was asked to join the movie last January. She hadn’t been in a film since 2004, but instead was concentrating on a successful retail business in Great Barrington, Mass. Karen Allen Fiber Arts sells fine cashmere clothing. Allen also had a yoga center, and that experience came in handy.
“When they called, there was a lot of training involved,” said one observer. “Karen’s yoga made her ready for that.”
Allen turns 56 in October, but you’d never guess it. She looks like she’s not a day over 35. She’s been in plenty of memorable films, but the most popular were probably "Animal House" (1978) and "Starman" (1984).
Ironically, none of the math in “Indy 4” really works out. LaBoeuf is 21 and Allen is 56, which means she allegedly had him at age 35. But in 1981, when “Raiders” was released, Allen was barely 30 and looked 20. That’s Hollywood for you! At least we know that Marion and Indy had conjugal relations. Theirs was the only bed shared in an “Indy” movie.
Now that we know Allen is back, maybe Spielberg has plans for cameos of his real-life wife Kate Capshaw (“Temple of Doom”) and Irish beauty Alison Doody (“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”) who subsequently retired from films. One character who won’t be returning with the original actor: Indy’s dad. Sean Connery decided not to reprise his role as Henry Jones from “Last Crusade.”
Kelly Clarkson gets the picture, finally.
There was no bucking the system, and no going against Clive Davis. Sources tell me that Clarkson has agreed, through her wise new manager Narvel Blackstock, to make a pop album for release in 2008 with songs selected by Davis and his team.
Clarkson's acquiescence comes at the end of a long melodrama concerning her current, turgid album "My December," which features a lot of ragged self-penned songs by Clarkson about a relationship gone sour.
Davis didn't like the album, considering it was the follow up to Clarkson's multimillion selling "Breakaway." But he released it, and Clarkson responded by dissing him and then apologizing earlier this week.
In the meantime, "My December" is sort of free-floating away now, and will probably sell a respectable 850,000 copies in the U.S. and maybe the same worldwide.
Clarkson gets points for trying out her chops as a songwriter, but demerits for not following anyone's advice, trying to take on the record industry's most astute executive maybe of all time and acting like a 25-year-old (which is, in fact, her age.)
The news about Clarkson's next move came Thursday during the annual UJA Federation lunch at which Davis was honored. Everyone in the biz was there — the room was so packed that there was little space between the tables for waiters to maneuver or for good schmoozing.
The result was a $1 million-plus take for the day. The money goes into the Music for Youth educational campaign which brings music to public schools.
Talk of Clarkson was abundant, but it was another "American Idol" player who made headlines at lunch. Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson performed two songs as a tribute to Davis: Barry Manilow's "Weekend in New England" and "One Moment in Time," a song that Whitney Houston made popular long ago.
Using the Hotel Pierre's crummy P.A. system and a badly scratched, barely tuned piano, Hudson gave a spectacular little show. If anyone doubted what she can do, that's over.
Hudson is a superstar in the making (in contrast to a Federation performance by Ruben Studdard a few years ago). Even Clarence Avant, the beloved record guy who once ran Motown, was impressed.
Davis's peeps were more than excited that Clarkson's situation had been resolved, they say. There are no hard feelings over "My December," but let's just say everyone's waiting for her January now.
Davis, on the other hand, was toasted by fellow execs: Daniel Glass, now running his own record company, GlassNote, and having a hit with Second Hand Serenade; Davis's menschy lieutenant at RCA-BMG, Charles Goldstuck and his attorney son Fred Davis.
The lunch was emceed by Z-100's Elvis Duran, who couldn't seem to raise a laugh — but it was a humid afternoon.
P.S.: Miss Whitney Houston, I am told, has now finished a third track for her big comeback album and everyone at J Records is very pleased with the results.
You go, Whitney. Success is yours for the taking.
Between his two sold-out shows in Montreal this week, Sting got his brain watched. Not washed, but watched.
Scientists at McGill University invited the rocker to come over and have his brain analyzed at the world-famous McConnell Brain Imaging Centre. Essentially, they put the subject through an MRI while they play different kinds of music for him or her. Then the pictures are studied to see responses.
The scientists might have been better off, though, studying the Police's first show at Montreal's Bell Center on Wednesday night. In all my years of attending rock concerts, this group of 19,000 fans had to have been the loudest ever.
During "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," the audience literally scream-sang the lyrics with such ferocity that it felt like my ears were burning. Guitarist Andy Summers agreed. After the show he said he had never heard any audience at such a high pitch.
The Police show in Montreal showed a huge jump from the last time I saw the group at the Staples Center in Los Angeles about six weeks ago. They have re-gelled since then, and now many of the infelicities of the early reunion have disappeared.
Though all three members of the group are still quite independent-minded, they have managed to find a middle ground. Even "Roxanne," a song we have all heard a million times, was so good it gave me goose bumps.
What remains astonishing about The Police show is that it's just three musicians — Sting, Summers and Stewart Copeland. Sting sings for two solid hours without any backup or augmentation. There are no additional musicians and nothing be added to by a computer. It's kind of a remarkable feat and all the more so when you realize they have nothing to fall back on.
Before the show, a funny thing happened: The group's manager, Kathy Schenker, was approached in restaurant Bonaparte, in Montreal's old village, by a middle-aged couple.
"I'm the real police," the man said.
He turned out to be Bill Corcoran, police chief in Ridgewood, N.J. He and his wife were on vacation and couldn't get tickets to the show.
Schenker quickly went into action and hooked the Corcorans up with her office in New York. Presumably all went well, and now the rock Police are square with the real police if they ever get to Ridgewood.
Meanwhile, Montreal turns out to be a hot town right now. Opus Hotel from Vancouver has just opened a branch there of its boutique operation, with very cool black, grey and silver rooms and a bar area that's quickly attracted a young, beautiful crowd.
Opus has imported its Vancouver manager Daniel Craig, no relation to James Bond, to get the place up and running. Vive Opus!
The Police next turn to Fenway Park on Saturday night, where they have another sold out show. They finally arrive in New York on Wednesday, for two shows at Madison Square Garden and a finale on Aug. 5 at Giants Stadium.
So far their set list hasn't changed, but it would be swell if they added "Spirits in the Material World" or "Synchronicity" to the already dazzling group of songs.
Andrew Borrok, the commercial real estate owner/chef, hosted a lunch Thursday at Le Cirque for the new Catherine Zeta-Jones movie, "No Reservations."
His guest list was pretty impressive. In addition to Zeta-Jones and her hubby, Michael Douglas, and co-star Aaron Eckhart, he fielded: Bob Balaban and wife Lynne Grossman; Lisa Bloom of CourtTV; Martha Stewart; Campbell Brown; Chris Cuomo; director Scott Hicks (he also did "Shine"); Rosanna Scotto of FOX 5 New York; People magazine's Martha Nelson and my old friend Richie Notar, who runs Nobu downtown so brilliantly. Very few us recall that a very young Richie ran the door at Studio 54 in New York's halcyon days.
Thursday night we finally caught up with Christine Ebersol's amazing Tony-winning performance in "Grey Gardens" on Broadway. It's a tour de force, and one can only hope the producers have filmed this show before it closes on Sunday.
Ebersol and Mary Louise Wilson, who also won a Tony, could not be better.
I always remember Ebersol from a terrific "Murphy Brown" episode in which she played an actress hired by Murphy's pals as a birthday gift to impersonate the sister she never had. It was hilarious.
Now someone should get Ebersol her own series, pronto.