- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 6, 2006

Madonna to the rescue

Madonna has announced plans to raise at least $3 million for programs to support the nearly 1 million children in Malawi who have lost parents to AIDS. The headman of Mphandula, who bears the same name as his village, said Thursday he was contacted last month by organizers and told some of the money will build a feeding and education center for orphans in this village, 30 miles from the capital, Lilongwe.

“The orphanage project is about serving humanity. It will mean so much to us. We can only ask God to bless this person for her kindness,” he said.

Malawi is among the poorest countries in the world, hit by years of drought and an AIDS epidemic. According to the National AIDS Commission, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has left close to 1 million orphans in this southern African country.

Madonna is expected to visit in October. She joins a growing list of entertainer-activists who have focused their attention on Africa, including Bono, Angelina Jolie and George Clooney. The 47-year-old singer outlined her plans in an interview with Time magazine to be published today.

Most of the farmers of Mphandula, where Madonna’s orphan center is planned, live in mud-and-thatch huts, wear shoes only on special occasions and rarely can afford to eat meat. The village has no electricity and only a few households have radios.

“I hear Madonna is coming here,” said Michael Soko. The excited 24-year-old was the only one among 30 people interviewed in Mphandula who had heard of the Material Girl as an entertainer.

“I know her song ‘Holiday,’” he said. “We used to dance to it in school.”

Acting guru honored

Family and former students of Stella Adler gathered in front of her namesake theater as the actress and acting teacher was honored with a posthumous star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

Mrs. Adler started acting at age 4. In 1949, she founded a school now known as the Stella Adler Studio of Acting. Her student list reads like a who’s who of Hollywood: Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Candice Bergen, Warren Beatty and Benicio Del Toro, among others. She died in 1992.

“I owe way too much to Stella Adler,” Mr. Del Toro said Friday at the ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard. “One of the things I owe her for is the seriousness and intensity to how she approached acting.”

Another former student, actor Mark Ruffalo, said he “could barely put two sentences together” when he started studying with Mrs. Adler.

“The fact that I’m here is a testimony to Stella,” he said.

The Stella Adler Theatre celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.

Kiss fans demonstrate

About 200 Kiss fans protested Saturday in front of Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to demand that the band be inducted into the hall.

Fans, some from as far away as California, carried signs and painted their faces in black-and-white to resemble Kiss band members.

Those participating in the half-hour demonstration were upset that the band, formed more than 30 years ago, has not been admitted, even though it has been eligible since the late 1990s.

Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record, according to the museum’s Web site.

“Criteria include the influence and significance of the artist’s contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll,” the site says.

A museum spokesman said it was the first demonstration by fans seeking to have a group inducted.

The foundation that selects inductees is based in New York City, not at the museum.

Compiled from wire and Web reports by Kevin Chaffee.

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