Stop The Presses!

July 7-14: It’s A Madge, Madge, Madge World

Lyndsey Parker
Stop The Presses!

You've gotta hand it to Madonna for managing to stay in the headlines after a quarter-century in the biz. Whether or not you dig her music, you must admire her ability to market herself, especially when she maintains her constant visibility via hookups with other celebs. Of course, such collabos yield mixed results: For instance, her recent pairings with Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, and Pharrell on her new album Hard Candy have been quite successful, while her "artsy" naked photos romping with Vanilla Ice and her Rotten Tomatoes-worthy Swept Away box-office bomb with (soon to be ex?) filmmaker husband Guy Ritchie were more ill-advised past collaborations.

But either way, when Madonna takes on a sidekick, people notice. And this week, she's keeping some very interesting, headline-grabbing company.

First of all, as gossip continues to circulate regarding the supposedly inevitable end of the Ritchies' eight-year marriage, 49-year-old Madonna has been spotted in New York chilling with 32-year-old, recently separated Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez. (Meanwhile, A-Rod's estranged wife Cynthia has supposedly taken up with Lenny Kravitz, who co-wrote Madonna's racy hit "Justify My Love"--just to add to the overall intrigue and complexity of this story.) Alex--who in 2004 earned the tabloid nickname "Stray-Rod" after the paparazzi snapped telltale pics of him cavorting with a former Vegas stripper--has reportedly been sighted leaving Madonna's NYC apartment after midnight, and Madge and her three kids recently publicly and quite enthusiastically attended a Yankees game. Wow, if these two really are a couple, this could be the biggest Yankee romance since Joe DiMaggio hooked up with Madonna's blonde-ambition idol, Marilyn Monroe. But Madge's hard-working and long-suffering publicist, Liz Rosenberg, continues to deny rumors that Madonna and Guy Ritchie are actually divorcing.

One pal with whom Madonna is definitely r(e-)hooking up is Britney Spears. Madge and Brit once seemed very, very close, back in the day when they were studying Kabbalah, dueting on "Me Against The Music," engaging in friendly Ashtanga yoga-offs, and, most infamously, swapping spit on the MTV Video Music Awards. But in recent years, Madonna has noticeably distanced herself from her increasingly troubled onetime gal pal. But like we said earlier, Madonna knows how to align herself with fellow celebrities when it will boost her career. So these estranged pop blondes had a reunion of sorts this week--when Britney started shooting a promotional film that will serve as the intro video for each concert on Madonna's upcoming "Sticky & Sweet" tour.

According to reports, the short movie will depict Britney having some sort of breakdown in an elevator. What this scenario has to do with stickiness, sweetness, or Madonna in general is unclear, but surely Britney's past personal experience will give her much to cull from when she's getting into character. Sources say Britney has been "really nervous" and "biting her nails" during the shoot, but "she's doing a good job" and is acting "very professional." So apparently the only meltdown Britney's undergoing these days is a staged one for the cameras. Maybe her old mentor Madonna is a good influence after all!

In other Madonna-related girl-on-girl kissing news, other rumors ran rampant this week that when Madonna isn't sucking face with A-Rod, she's pulling a VMA and locking lips Gwyneth Paltrow. See, in his new memoir, oh so creatively titled Life With My Sister Madonna, Madonna's younger brother Christopher Ciccone claims that his big sister once passionately puckered up with Mrs. Chris Martin at a New Year's Eve gala hosted by Donatella Versace. Reps for both women deny the story, as does one eyewitness party guest. But in general, there may be some truth to Christopher's 342-page book: The insider author also states that Madonna loves herself and her career more than she loves her husband. And that does sound somewhat plausible. "I hope that it is Kabbalah's lesson that she is not the center of the universe," Madonna's baby bro writes.

Christopher once worked with his sister on her "Girlie Show" tour and her documentary Truth or Dare, but admits that they are no longer close. (Gee, we wonder why?) "I would have to assume she has come to terms with the fact that they do not have a close and loving relationship," the always busy Liz Rosenberg told the press this week. "And with the book coming out, I assume that will remove the chances of that ever happening."

Hmmm. Maybe Madonna should record a remake song called "Brother Don't Preach."

In other relationship news not related to Madonna (she isn't the center of the universe, after all), this week country star Keith Urban and his lovely wife Nicole Kidman welcomed their first baby together, daughter Sunday (who was actually born on a Monday). Congratulations to the Kidman-Urbans, all seven days of the week.

Meanwhile, Olivia Newton-John revealed that she has married for a second time, tying the knot with Amazon Herb Company CEO John Easterling--who is 10 years her junior. (Surely Madonna would approve!)

But there wasn't such a happy ending for crooner Michael Buble, who confirmed that his three-year romance with actress Emily Blunt has come to an end. "Michael and Emily are no longer together as a couple, but they remain friends," Buble publicist Liz Rosenberg told E! News. (Man, that Liz Rosenberg sure gets around, huh?)

And finally, rapper Nate Dogg (who, incidentally, was sentenced to probation in March for attacking an ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend) dealt with even more serious relationship woes this week, as he was slapped with felony stalking charges after threatening his estranged wife. Now Nate is set to be arraigned on July 16--on two felony counts of making criminal threats, one felony count of stalking, and one misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license from a previous DUI.

Yikes. But Nate has enlisted the top services of Mark Geragos, aka Michael Jackson's A-list attorney...so he may get out of the doghouse after all.

And thus concludes another wild week in Madonna. Oops, we mean week in music news. Come back next Friday for more headspinning headlines, and until then...goodnight, and good music.

THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:

1) Does Madonna Spare The A-Rod? - The superstar is spotted getting chummy with newly single Yankees man Alex Rodriguez.

2) Britney & Madge Break The Ice - After a long estrangement the pop blondes renew their relationship.

3) Keith Urban, A Kid-Man - The country star and wife Nicole Kidman have their first child together.

4) Nate In The Dogghouse - Snoop's rapper cousin Nate Dogg is charged with stalking.

5) Should Chris Martin Be Jealous? - A new tell-all book claim Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna are extremely close friends.

6) Nickelback Pull A Madonna - The superstar rock band inks a multimillion-dollar deal with LiveNation.

7) Buble's Bubble Bursts - Michael and Emily Blunt officially break up.

8) He's The One That She Wants - Olivia Newton-John marries for a second time...to a man 10 years her junior.

9) Oh Well, Thank You For The Music - Despite all showing up for the Mamma Mia movie premiere, ABBA members insist they will never fully reunite.

10) Give "Peace" A Price - John Lennon's handwritten "Give Peace A Chance" lyrics sell for $833,654.

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