People And Places

PEOPLE AND PLACES

August 25, 2008

Madonna kicks off tour, and gets a bit political

Even at 50, the queen of pop just can't stop courting controversy.

As Madonna kicked off her international "Sticky and Sweet" tour Saturday night in Wales, she took a none-too subtle swipe at the presumptive Republican nominee for U.S. president.

Amid a four-act show at Cardiff's packed Millennium Stadium, a video interlude carried images of destruction, global warming, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, Zimbabwe's authoritarian President Robert Mugabe - and U.S. Senator John McCain. Another sequence, shown later, pictured slain Beatle John Lennon, followed by climate activist Al Gore, Mahatma Gandhi and finally McCain's Democratic rival Barack Obama.

The rest of the show had the usual Madonna fixtures: sequins, fishnets, and bondage-style outfits drawn from the 3,500 items of clothing reportedly whipped together by 36 designers specifically for the tour. Dancers sauntered across stage in top hats and tail coats, and Madonna tried her hand at break-dancing and pole-dancing.

Will convention star power help or hurt Obama?

Back in 2004, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons was in Boston for John Kerry's coronation as the Democratic nominee, staging a big hip-hop summit to draw new voters. This year, though he's a Barack Obama supporter, he plans to sit out the Denver convention.

"I didn't really feel they needed any more celebrities," says Simmons, chairman of Rush Communications, who'd been set to speak at a yoga convention on the sidelines, but changed his plans. "They have plenty. I didn't know if it would be helpful."

But Ben Affleck will be at the convention, and Oprah Winfrey, Obama's most influential celebrity booster, plans to be in the audience when her man accepts the nomination at Invesco Field. Others expected: Spike Lee, Charlize Theron, Josh Brolin, Annette Bening, Susan Sarandon, perhaps Leonardo DiCaprio and Gwyneth Paltrow. Want even more Oscar-caliber acting power? Sean Penn will be around, at a rally organized by Ralph Nader.

Kanye West is just one of the entertainers performing at various sideline events, as are the Black Eyed Peas, whose frontman, will.i.am, has released not one but two star-studded music videos in tribute to Obama. Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Cyndi Lauper and Stevie Wonder are expected. Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan group, plans to feature Jakob Dylan, Fall Out Boy and N.E.R.D at one party, singer Ashanti and actress Idina Menzel at another.

Familiar faces return at '90210' premiere party

Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth and the cast of the CW's 90210 toasted the teen drama's return to television Saturday night at a lavish invitation-only beachside premiere party in Malibu, Calif.

The sandy soiree was held inside tents on the Malibu shore - about 20 miles away from the Beverly Hills zip code made famous by the original series, which ran on Fox from 1990 to 2000.

Original series stars Doherty and Garth, who will reprise their roles as Brenda Walsh and Kelly Taylor in the new show, arrived separately.

Joe E. Tata, who will return as Peach Pit cafe owner Nat, also attended.

All three posed for photos with partygoers.

However, it was the new cast members who seemed to be having the most fun. Tristan Wilds, who stars as recent Beverly Hills transplant Dixon Wilson, and Dustin Milligan, who plays popular jock Ethan Ward, chatted at the party's meat carving station. Lori Loughlin, who portrays Wilson's mother Debbie, and Jessica Walter, who plays Debbie's mother Tabitha, mingled at the noddle bar.

birthdays

Actor Sean Connery, 78.

Talk host Regis Philbin, 77.

Rock singer Elvis Costello is 54.

Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, 47.

Actor Blair Underwood, 44.

Television chef Rachael Ray, 40.

Actress Rachel Bilson (The O.C.), 27.

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