- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Holy high-tailing

Madonna says she has canceled three Israeli stops on her Re-Invention tour because of violence in the region, not because of a kidnapping threat.

Madonna, who on Monday kicked off her worldwide tour in Los Angeles, told “Access Hollywood” that her manager wouldn’t let her travel to Israel because of the “attack on the leader of Hamas,” referring to Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

“It’s not a good idea to go there and do concerts,” she said in an interview that aired Monday.

London tabloids had reported that the singer backed out of the Israeli stops, scheduled for September, after an unidentified Palestinian terror group threatened her and her children, Lourdes, 7, and Rocco, 3.

Asked if this was true, she replied: “No, if I had my way, I’d go. My manager wouldn’t let me.”

Early reviews of Madonna’s Re-Invention tour say the Material Mom is in a politically charged mood, dressed in combat fatigues when singing “American Life” and backed by the sound of dropping bombs.

She’s also covering John Lennon’s “Imagine,” accompanied by video footage of sick and injured children across the globe.

Thorn in her side

“The Thorn Birds” novelist Colleen McCullough revealed she is going blind and may soon be unable to write her own books.

Miss McCullough, who turns 67 on Tuesday, told an Australian TV interviewer that she had already lost sight in one eye due to hemorrhagic macular degeneration, an irreversible and progressive illness that causes blindness.

“Every book from now, I have to think, may be the last one,” she said, according to Agence France-Presse.

An inveterate smoker, Miss McCullough said she would not kick the habit even though it is known to accelerate the condition.

“The words are in the cigarettes,” she said.

Au contraire

Not all of France is impressed with anti-Bush director Michael Moore, who took home the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Legendary French new wave director Jean-Luc Godard says the “Fahrenheit 9/11” filmmaker is, at best, “halfway intelligent.”

“He’s not even hurting Bush,” Mr. Godard said, as quoted on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s Web site. “He’s helping him in an underground way. Bush is either less stupid than he looks or so stupid you can’t change him.”

The French director also says Mr. Moore’s documentary style is technically flawed.

“Moore doesn’t distinguish between text and image,” Mr. Godard said. “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

Day’ after Hollywood

Roland Emmerich, writer-director of “The Day After Tomorrow,” the global-climatological-disaster flick opening Friday, admits the movie takes fantastical license.

Tornadoes wreck Los Angeles. Tokyo is pelted with hail the size of melons, and the British Isles become a sheet of ice.

The cause of all these calamities is global warming, which has turned the movie into a political football currently being tossed by heavyweights such as former Vice President Al Gore.

“To me, this is not a doomsday scenario,” Peter Frumhoff, director of the liberal environmentalist group Union of Concerned Scientists, told Reuters. “It is a very pragmatic scenario.”

Said Mr. Emmerich: “Yes, it is over the top, but it has to be. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a Hollywood movie.”

No Mac tonight

Fleetwood Mac fans, take note, if you haven’t already: Tonight’s show at Nissan Pavilion is canceled.

According to the venue’s Web site, the band was forced to cancel at short notice because of an illness. The concert won’t be rescheduled.

Compiled by Scott Galupo from staff and wire reports.

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