- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 20, 2006

Madonna chided

A German bishop has urged fans to boycott pop diva Madonna’s tour of the country, which kicked off yesterday amid a controversy over the singer’s symbolic crucifixion on stage.

“I thought Madonna was better than this because she claims to be a religious person,” Protestant Bishop Margot Kaesmann told Bild am Sonntag newspaper, according to Agence France-Presse. “But maybe the only way an aging superstar can attract attention is to offend people’s religious sentiments.”

Bishop Kaesmann advised people to ignore Madonna and said, “stars come and go, but the Christian faith endures.”

Madonna, 47, already has offended religious authorities in Italy and Russia with her infamous crucifixion routine in which she sings wearing a crown of thorns and is hitched to a wooden cross.

Cops bust a move

Rapper Busta Rhymes has been arrested and charged with assault, New York City police said yesterday.

Few details about the arrest and the attack that prompted it were immediately available, though police officer Martin Speechley said they occurred about a week apart.

Representatives of the rapper (real name Trevor Smith) could not immediately be reached for comment. Messages left for Violator Management and for a lawyer who once represented him were not immediately returned.

Police have been wanting to interview the rapper since the shooting death in February of one of his bodyguards, Israel Ramirez.

Mr. Ramirez, 29, was killed outside a Brooklyn studio where Mr. Rhymes was recording a music video.

The rapper and another bodyguard were sued the following month by a fan who says the men beat him after he asked for Mr. Rhymes’ autograph.

Still hungry

Veteran British pop-rockers Duran Duran have no desire to slow down.

The quintet is apparently raring to hit the road again. Speaking from his villa in France, keyboardist Nick Rhodes told Billboard.com that the band will give total support to its forthcoming album, due in February or March, via Epic records.

“We found that since we got back together, not only have the live shows been a great joy for us, but since we notched up another 50 or 60 under our belt, we got back to the stage where it was really a well-oiled machine again,” Mr. Rhodes said.

“If you don’t play live for six months, nine months or a year even, you lose your efficiency,” he added. “We promised ourselves that we would keep trying to play shows even when we hadn’t got new things to promote.”

Belly up

Britney Spears has been pregnant for 18 of the last 21 months, and frankly, she’d rather be at the gym.

Miss Spears, whose second child with husband Kevin Federline is due in about two months, wants her girlish figure back.

She told People magazine: “I feel like I’ve been pregnant for 10 years. … I’m so excited to sweat like I used to. Now I can’t because you’re always kind of scared, just kind of protective. … I’m so excited about getting my body back and getting a routine scheduled. I’m definitely going to start working out in a huge way.”

Compiled by Scott Galupo from Web and wire reports.

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