Madonna's Unregistered Charity | Jackson Grammy Tribute Looms | Incredible Shrinking CD Sales

Madonna's Charity Still Not Registered

If the charity Madonna is pushing Gucci to raise money for next week is actually registered anywhere in the United States, it’s still not showing up on any official Web sites.

And its big event is only a week away.

But Raising Malawi, which has been in business for two years, still does not turn up on the Web sites of Guide Star, Charity Navigator or the state of California.

As I’ve reported in this space before, Raising Malawi is basically a unit of Philip Berg’s Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles. If you wrote a check to it, the processing would be handled by Kabbalah’s "educational arm," called Spirituality for Kids. That’s also the group that gets proceeds from Madonna’s children’s books.

When I wrote last month about the planned Gucci fundraiser on Feb. 6 in New York, Madonna’s peeps responded by saying that Raising Malawi was in the process of getting registered formally.

But with a week to go, there’s no sign of it. Will well-heeled patrons of Gucci really want to write checks only to find them endorsed and cashed by Spirituality for Kids?

As I also reported earlier this month, Kabbalah has been importing Malawians to Los Angeles, teaching them about $26 red strings and mysticism, and then sending them back to impart this knowledge to orphans.

Raising Malawi/Kabbalah is not the only organization benefiting from the Feb. 6 fundraiser. To make things look kosher (as it were), Gucci and Madonna threw in UNICEF, too.

The event — called "A Night to Benefit Raising Malawi and UNICEF" — is being held on the lawn of the United Nations, although the real merchandise push will be to announce the opening of Gucci’s new flagship store on Fifth Avenue. Oy vey!

Jackson Grammy Tribute Shaping Up

Remember the unusual tribute to Sly Stone on the Grammys a couple of years ago? It may be time for another, similar outing.

I hear that the Grammy folks would like to pull together a Michael Jackson tribute for the 25th anniversary of "Thriller." In Tuesday’s column, I supposed this might happen, but now the crossed fingers at Sony Music are hoping to pull it off, somehow.

The plan would be for will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas to orchestrate the production, with Kanye West, Wyclef Jean and Akon joining in. All four produced remixes on the 25th anniversary "Thriller" edition set for release on Feb. 12 — two days after the Grammy show.

"The thinking is all those performers were already coming to the Grammys anyway," says an insider.

The only real question is whether Jackson would join in, singing or dancing, or just show up wearing some bizarre outfit and take bows from the stage. His last "live" TV performance, for the World Music Awards, was a disaster.

Sony is certainly trying to make the "25th anniversary of Thriller" into some kind of occasion. They’ve even hired an outside publicist, Lois Najarian, who’s done a lot of work with Clive Davis on his acts over the years and was until recently at Epic, Jackson’s putative label.

One drawback to the four hip-hoppers performing their remixes is that so far, no one really likes any of the tracks. On top of that, Wyclef has already issued a statement saying Jackson owes him money. (What else is new?)

But the Grammys need the ratings, so a roll of this dice wouldn’t be too much of a gamble. Producer Kenny Ehrlich usually manages to pull magic rabbits out of hats. I’m sure he can do it again!

CD Sales Starting to Disappear

The end of the physical CD is just moments away.

Last week, according to hitsdailydouble.com, CD sales totaled just over 400,000 copies for the top 10.

The best-selling CD was the soundtrack to "Juno," with 65,000 copies. Alicia Keys was second, with 59,000.

The lowest-selling CD on the top 50 was Kanye West’s "Graduation," with about 12,000.

This is not good news as we approach Grammy week. Digital sales are never going to replace tangible, physical music. Downloading is convenient, but it’s not the same thing as holding in your hands either music you love or think you’re going to love. It can’t.

But so many record companies have disappeared — like Warner and EMI. And radio refuses to play anything new or support quality. Radio programmers think they know what they’re doing, but they’ve simply forced listeners away.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the car this month. Stations I’ve listened to in both New York and Los Angeles have been horrendous. The funny thing is, I’ve left the car in the evening, returned the next afternoon and heard the exact same songs. I’ve come to guess that programmers think listeners are just stupid.

I won’t tell you which stations did this, but it was embarrassing. Each time, I simply turned either to Sirius or to the in-dash CD player. I doubt I’m alone.

By the way, the most absurd record I’ve heard in a long time is Linkin Park’s "Shadow of the Day." It’s a direct rip-off of U2’s "With or Without You." I’m surprised Bono hasn’t sued this extremely mediocre group.

It sure sounds like he has a good case. Play them side by side. Ouch! If only radio would embrace some of the good new music that’s out there instead of supporting this kind of tripe.