OK, the big news of the week probably shouldn't have been "big news" at all, considering the A-Rod-centric rumors of marital strife surrounding the Ritchies' union for ages now. But until this week, Liz Rosenberg, aka the Hardest-Working Woman In Spin Control, emphatically insisted that all was well between her star client Madonna and Madge's film-director hubby Guy Ritchie. However, this past Wednesday, Liz officially confirmed what everyone already knew, or at least suspected: That Madonna and Guy are indeed divorcing, and that they hope to make their split official by the end of the year.
To be honest, we here at That's Really Week were surprised at how dejectedly we took this news. We've covered a gajillion celebrity splits in the past--Paul and Heather, Britney and Kevin, Jessica and Nick, Whitney and Bobby, Tommy and Pamela--and none of those stories really upset us. We're bitter and hardened that way. Plus, this Madge news wasn't even that much of a surprise, as we've already pointed out. But it still genuinely bummed us out, for reasons we can't quite explain. Maybe it's because Madonna's classic Ray Of Light album seemed so focused on domestic bliss, on the joy of finding one's soulmate and having a family and a real home. Maybe it's because we cited Madge's marriage as proof that a strong, tough, ruthlessly/blondely ambitious woman could--contrary to popular belief--find a man to love her just the way she is without being intimidated by her power. Oh well. Guess not.
On the brightish side, Madonna is certainly in a better position, no pun intended, than most 50-year-old suddenly single women: Rumor has it she's already shacked up with the much-younger Alex Rodriguez and has convinced A-Rod to start studying Kabbalah. And Guy Ritchie won't fare too badly in the long run, either, since he stands to win a $250 million divorce settlement from his soon-to-be-ex. (The Ritchies, bizarrely, had no prenup.) It's no wonder Madonna has hired Fiona Shackleton--divorce lawyer for Prince Charles and the aforementioned Sir Paul McCartney--to protect her many assets. She better say a few Kabbalah prayers while she's at it.
Breakup rumors are also surrounding Madonna's fellow diva, Janet Jackson, and Janet's long-term boyfriend, record mogul/producer Jermaine Dupri. But Janet had other troubles this week, when she cancelled even more dates on her current concert tour due to some "mystery illness." It turned out the ailment was just migraine-associated vertigo, which seemed a bit anti-climactic and not at all exotic or "mysterious," and this made us wonder if Janet was just looking for some cockamamie excuse to back out of her less-than-sold-out, struggling tour. But hey, we're just glad it wasn't something serious and that she was able to resume her tour, sold-out or not, Wednesday night in D.C. However, it troubled us when tabloids reported that Jermaine was forbidden to administer his bedside manner to Janet during her brief hospital stay this week. (One of Janet's many entourage members reportedly stopped him outside her hospital room door and told him, "You're not her boyfriend anymore." Ouch.) We hope that both Janet and her relationship completely recover soon.
One diva who's recovering quite nicely this week is Madonna's old duet partner, Britney Spears. Yes, after many lost years of head-shaving, underwear-forgetting, Federline-marrying, VMA-botching, etc., it seems like Brit has finally gotten her act together. Her new single "Womanizer" record-breakingly skyrocketed from #96 to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week--incredibly, becoming her first #1 single since "Baby One More Time" in 1999. "Womanizer" also set a record for biggest first-week digital sales by a female artist (286,000 paid downloads), beating the record recently set by Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body." Wow, could it be that--after months of empty press-release hype and three undeserved MTV Video Music Awards moonmen for the long-forgotten "Piece Of Me" video--Britney really is making her long-anticipated comeback? So far all signs point to YES...but the real test will be when her sixth studio album, Circus, comes out December 2.
Speaking of comebacks, kudos to diva-in-training Katy Perry for how she was able to laugh at herself and rebound with humorous grace after a recent stage stunt went amusingly awry. This week at the 15th annual MTV Latin American Awards, Katy dove chest-first into the award show's gigantic pink anniversary cake, only to find herself having an unexpected "I've fallen and I can't get up" moment when the smeared stage became too slick with Cherry-Chapstick-colored pink frosting for her to even stand upright. After repeatedly slipping and sliding in icing until she was pretty much frosted from head to toe like a giant human cupcake, Katy was eventually escorted to safety by her mariachi-attired guitarist, laughing all the while. Sweet!
And on the subject of more serious comebacks, there were a few other newsworthy rebounds this week. On/off celebrity couple John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston were apparently back on, after being spotted at a Ray LaMontagne concert together in Boston; DJ AM made his first public appearance since surviving a harrowing plane crash in South Carolina last month, performing with Jay-Z at the newly reopened Hollywood Palladium; Travis Barker was released from the hospital after surviving the same plane crash; Eminem confirmed that his long-awaited sixth studio album, Relapse, will likely be out before the end of the year; Amy Winehouse announced she's finally going to record something new herself, a cover of Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me" for a Quincy Jones tribute album; and famously catsuited former Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins thrillingly returned to the rock scene with a new band ingeniously named Hot Leg. Congratulations to them all--especially DJ AM and Travis.
Well, that sure was a couple of positive of paragraphs, huh? But of course we're ending on a downer note as usual. All was not well in Nashville this week, as two country kings spoke frankly to the press about their troubles. First, Kenny Chesney admitted that his new album, Lucky Old Sun, was largely inspired by his brief, annulled marriage to actress Renee Zellweger. "In 2006, I was probably as emotionally and mentally exhausted as I'd ever been," he told Newsweek. "It was horrible. It took a while [to get over the breakup] Years. It's been since 2005." And Tim McGraw issued an angry press release protesting his allegedly unauthorized new greatest-hits album, saying, "The whole concept is an embarrassment to me as an artist. In the spirit of the election year, I would simply say to my fans, 'I'm Tim McGraw and I don't approve their message.'"
And on one last, even down-er downer note, we bif farewell to Levi Stubbs, frontman for the legendary Motown singing group the Four Tops, who died this week at age 72. He shall be missed and remembered.
And so concludes another week in music news. Come back next week for more head-spinning headlines, and until then, goodnight and good music.
THIS WEEK'S TOP 15 STORIES:
1) Madonna's Marriage Takes A Bow - The Ritchies are finally, officially divorcing.
2) Britney's Back! - Spears scores her first number-one single since 1999.
3) Hello, GOODBYE - Ringo Starr announces he will no longer answer any fan mail.
4) Janet's Nasty Illness - Jackson cancels tour dates due to migraine-related vertigo.
5) The One Top - With the death of Levi Stubbs this week, only one original, surviving Four Tops member remains.
6) McGraw Gets Mad - Tim complains that his recent greatest-hits collection was released without his blessing.
7) Mayer & Aniston Are "Friends" Again - Tabloids report that John and Jen are back together.
8) DJ AM Spins Again - He makes his first public appearance since surviving a plane crash.
9) Chesney Opens Up - Kenny finally speaks to the press about his painful split from Renee Zellweger.
10) Guess Who's Back? - Eminem announces plans to finally release his sixth album.
11) Lisa Marie Presley's Double Delivery - She gives birth to twin heirs to the Elvis empire.
12) Amy's Back To Black - Winehouse is finally going to record some new material.
13) Katy Perry Takes The Cake - Her performance at the MTV Latin Awards ends in a frosting-smeared mess.
14) Bon Jovi Gives McCain A Bad Name - He's not happy that his song is being used in the presidential election campaign.
15) Out Of The Darkness - Rehabbed rocker Justin Hawkins returns with a new band.