Monday, February 28, 2005

Queen Madonna

Born on August 16th of 1958, Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone Ritchie at first focused her energy towards being a dancer. This passion continued through to her studies at the University of Michigan in her hometown in the USA. However, during her first year at university, Madonna left the school-life and home for bigger and better opportunities.

Madonna's destination was The Big Apple. Apparently arriving with only $35 and knowing nobody, Madonna knew she found her home away from home. After doing some modeling work, playing drums in a band, working at the Russian Tea Room and a lot more events in between, Madonna's interest eventually shifted from dance to music. From that point, Madonna was determined to be the Queen of Pop.

Amidst the multitude of her life - Madonna released countless chart-topping singles; re-invented herself with each song; married and divorced actor Sean Penn; defined the words "Blond Ambition" and "Boy Toy"; challenged society's views on religion and sex; made a book called 'Sex'; formed Maverick Entertainment; she said "fuck" on David Letterman thirteen times; had her naval pierced; modeled for Versace; played the role of Eva Peron; won a few Grammy's and Oscars; became Madge; vigorously practiced Yoga and Pilates; actively studies the Kabbalah; is mother to Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon and Rocco John Ritchie; is wife to filmmaker Guy Ritchie; and of course, plays the guitar.

More recently, still riding high after 'The Drowned World Tour', Madonna continued her work on stage and completed a successful run in West End's production of 'Up For Grabs'. After recording the title track for the new James Bond film, 'Die Another Day', a brand spankin' new LP 'American Life' was released in 2003.

In celebration of her twenty years in the industry, Madonna started to fuse her past hits into the setlist of her 'American Life' promo gigs in April 2003. One example of this is the 'Into The Hollywood Groove' project with Missy Elliott for the Gap Cords campaign. Most recently, is the amazing 're-Invention Tour' - a celebration of her body of work, spiritual and personal growth (or plainly re-Invention). Her current passion is working on her collection of Kabbalah-based children's books. Future plans include working on her autobiography. But in the meantime, Madonna (or Esther, her chosen Hebrew name) lives happily in London, New York and Los Angeles with her family.

I guess the only thing she hasn't done, is start her own line of lingerie or haute couture. But I'm sure it's in the pipeline.

Material Girl

Madonna. Icon. NO need for an introduction. The name says it all. Always a non-conformist diva, Madonna sort and embraced controversy. If it wasn't her cavorting in a wedding dress in "Like A Virgin" or prancing as Marilyn Monroe in "Material Girl", Madonna always had something to say.

While obviously targeting the commercialism of the early '80s, "Material Girl" is until today one of Madonna's most mis-interpreted songs. It's also the one song that had the biggest impact on Madonna's image with journalists and fans calling her a "Material Girl" up until today.

The single was a big hit all over the world when it was released in early 1985. Much effect on this success had the ultra-glamourous videoclip by Mary Lambert. In the pink-induced overload video clip, Madonna completely re-stages the famous "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" sequence from the Marilyn Monroe movie "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."

It is now the image (and musically) Madonna avoids. She also slots into many roles in life. Musician. Actress. Artist. Mother. Wife. Rebel. Empire. Bourgeoisie. Evita. And it doesn't stop there. Her life is celebrated, worshiped and scorned. Her accomplishments fill a book. Her mistakes are analysed and watched. But what has made her "Madonna?"

Madonna. The icon. Popular culture. Music. Visual artist. It is this type of celebrity that continues to evolve, or re-invent (a much hated term, now ironically favoured). With every album, music video, world tour, movie or sighting, Madonna is constantly watched and adored. She continues to inspire, educate, dictate and reveal more layers of herself to the outside world. And today, it is still this world that finds fascination in her every move.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Something's coming over...

...Things haven't been the same, since you came into my life. You found a way to touch my soul, and I'm never, ever, ever gonna let it go......

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Blonde Ambition

The triumph of Jessica Simpson, the deconstruction of Nick Lachey, and the marketing of the self.

By Matthew Continetti
Edited by Reuben

I DIDN'T SEE "The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour" on ABC last Sunday night, but according to Nielsen, about 11.4 million other viewers did. An hour of musical numbers and comedy sketches performed by husband-and-wife team Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson, the show won its time slot. It drew most of its support from that most coveted of demographics, 18-49-year olds. Nick and Jessica's warbling and wailing proved so popular, in fact, that ABC has already greenlit a sequel - a Christmas-time-is-here spectacular that will air sometime during the holiday shopping season.

The ascendancy of Jessica Simpson, in other words, is now complete. Simpson, 23, once lurked towards the back of the teen popstar pack, behind Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and even Mandy Moore. Britney and Christina's album sales were higher than Jessica's; Moore cornered the I'm-so-innocent market early on. But times change. Today it's Simpson, not Christina, who has one of the most popular shows on the MTV network. It's Simpson, not Britney, who's latest album is certified double platinum. It's Simpson, not Moore, who stars in primetime ABC specials.

Simpson is more than ascendant. She's ubiquitous. In early March "With You," a single from her album "In This Skin", hit Number 1 on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 chart. Last week Simpson filmed a sitcom pilot for ABC. This week she graces the cover of People magazine's 30th anniversary issue. Last night's finale of The Apprentice, Donald Trump's reality show, featured Simpson (contestants are tasked with managing one of her concerts). On April 17, Simpson appeared on VH1's 7th annual Divas special, along with fellow divas Patti LaBelle, Gladys Night (sans Pips), Mary J. Blige, and Cyndi Lauper. Movies are her next target. Her ambition, she's told reporters, is to star in a remake of "I Dream of Jeannie", as, you guessed it, Jeannie.

WHY IS SIMPSON so rich, so popular, and yet so spectacularly talentless? She herself doesn't seem to know. "We're amazed [at the show's success], actually," she once said. "We're amazed that we're entertaining, I think." That makes two of us.

Her looks may have something to do with it. Petite, blonde, and possessed of, well, impressive measurements, she resembles nothing so much as a life-sized Barbie doll. On the other hand, she's no more attractive than, say, Britney Spears. And Simpson is less inclined to capitalize on her good looks than other young celebrities: A little research (ahem) shows that she appears more often in women's magazines than FHM or Maxim spreads.

Maybe it's her lifestyle. Remember that Simpson's career took off with the premiere and ensuing popularity of Newlyweds, the MTV reality show that follows her day-to-day life with Nick Lachey, the well-pectoraled singer who once headlined a boyband called 98 Degrees (as in hot!). The coupled married in the fall of 2002, when Simpson was 22 and Lachey 29. (CNN's Anderson Cooper has since pronounced Simpson and Lachey "America's favorite young couple.") Before her nuptials, Simpson was the postergirl for teenage abstinence. Which is partly responsible for her appeal. Attending a Simpson concert, 12-year-old Savannah David told a Wilmington, North Carolina, paper that Simpson was "a good role model. She waited until she was married to do it."

A relentless role model, oozing sex appeal. Is Jessica Simpson the dumb blonde ditz she's portrayed herself? Or is it just another calculated marketing move on her behalf to hook us into watching something quite mundane and fuelling sales of her album? Which ever the case is, Jessica Simpson is compelling by the minute.

I guess that is her appeal.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Jessica Rabbit - The Movie Star

"Jessica Simspon is looking to parlay her superSTAR singing career into movie STARdom. In the meantime, she's having fun playing with images, like she does here by taking on the essence of STAR 80" - Star Power, Movieline Magazine

"I'm not an actress - I'm a MOVIE STAR!"

Pop star and aspiring actor Jessica Simpson has clinched the role of Daisy Duke in the upcoming film The Dukes of Hazzard.

"She is really excited," said Simpson's father and manager, Joe. "Daisy Duke is right down her alley."

The remake of the late-1970s-early 1980s cult TV show about the Duke cousins and their hotted-up Dodge Charger, called The General Lee, is set to begin production soon.

Simpson shot to fame when her marital misadventures with fellow singer and husband, Nick Lachey, aired on MTV's "Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica." She has played herself in countless TV appearances and had a guest starring run on "That '70s Show." On the big screen, she played herself in the 2002 feature "The Master of Disguise." Simpson, who has had a chart hit with "With You" and nabbed the role out from under the pert noses of a posse of hopefuls.

Fellow blonde pop starlet, Britney Spears, was among them, but Simpson's popularity on screen as well as off it appears to have won her the approval of the film's producers. Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville already had been cast as Bo and Luke Duke, respectively, in the Warner Bros. project. Jay Chandrasekhar is directing. A start date has not yet been set.

Brief introduction to Lionel Deluy - the man behind the star

Born in the South of France, Lionel Deluy started his career when he migrated to Paris. There he assisted for two years with "2 STUDIO" and spent 18 months working at Day Light Studios. It was at these studios where he assisted great artist such as Mondino, Testino and Le Goues just to name a few.

Deluy's Client list includes a variety of companies. From fashion magzines such as "Harper's Bazaar" and "Vogue" in Español. To product companies like Sony and Disney. Men's images have been seen in Men's Health Magazine.

In March 2004, these stunning portrait shots were included in the Movieline magazine - showcasing the star quality Jessica exuded. Very reminisce to the retro 80's inspired garb and big hair, Deluy captured the aura exuding from the pop star.

[quote, biography extract from Lionel Deluy. Personal interview with Lionel Deluy conducted and transcribed by Reuben]

[quote, photography from by Lionel Deluy for Movieline Magazine - March 2004]

Monday, February 14, 2005

Chicken Of The Sea Conference

Jessica autographs cans of "Chicken of the Sea" tuna cans for staff at the annual "Chicken of the Sea" sales conference in October, 2003

Of course, Jessica Simpson's most famous head-scratcher was that "Chicken of the Sea" quote.

"Is this chicken what I have, or is this fish?" she asked Lachey on one episode. "I know it's tuna, but it says chicken. By the sea."

The quote became a favorite around water coolers and in Internet chat rooms after Simpson said it.

But confusing chicken for tuna could have its payoff — "Chicken of the Sea" told Simpson during her visit to their San Diego headquarters in October last year, that sales of the brand have gone up ten percent since she mentioned them on the show.

"We wanted to bring her down and make sure she understood the difference, and told her the story of how the brand name originated," said Chicken of the Sea senior vice president of marketing Don George. George, gladly explained the product -

"People thought, 'Well, I know what chicken tastes like and this tastes like chicken.' So, (we decided), let's just make this White Star's Chicken of the Sea." explained George. "Well, that caught on so it ultimately became Chicken of the Sea."

"You explained that way better than my husband," Simpson replied to George.

Simpson even sang the company's old jingle, "Ask any mermaid you happen to see/ what's the best tuna, 'Chicken of the Sea'."

Contrary to the rumors, Simpson has yet to sign as "Chicken of the Sea's" new spokesperson - although she'd like to. "You'd think they'd want that after their sales went up 10 percent."

Jessica sampling "Chicken of the Sea's" current products

"I really want to be the mermaid on their can. I think that would be hysterical." - Jessica Simpson.

For the moment, that's not likely, says George, who instead attributes the recent spike in sales to "a quality control initiative." "She's helped a great deal in introducing the brand to kids," he says, "but I don't think she'll be our spokesperson." His hand may be forced, however, because Furano has been fielding calls from other tuna companies interested in signing Simpson.

"Two different companies have sent Jessica cases of tuna fish to try out," he says. And Simpson admits her loyalty goes only so far. "If 'Chicken of the Sea' doesn't want me, I'll do Starkist," she says. "I know tuna will be involved in there somewhere."

"I knew that it was tuna fish," she said. "I was just really confused because I liked it, and I hate fish, and I thought for a split second there, that maybe it was chicken. Maybe I was confused, and maybe what was really in the can was chicken. And you know, of course, that made me a dumb blonde."

And ever since that and her other notable blunders, making a goof has entered the common parlance as "doing a Jessica." Simpson sees it as an honor, not an insult. After all, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Mandy Moore — her pop peers — don't have slang named after them yet.

[quote, articles extracted from Yahoo!,, ABC News and The San Diego Channel]

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Domestic Diva or Ditz?

Jessica the Genius?

Does America's favorite "Newlywed" play up her role as a ditzy blonde for the cameras? In the Vanity Fair article, editor Krista Smith writes that Jessica may actually have an IQ up there with Albert Einstein.

In fact, Jessica's mom says her daughter's IQ is in the 160s. "The genius IQ is from Tina Simpson," Smith revealed. "I do think the ditziness is played up a bit on MTV. I think it's edited in a very clever way."

But Jessica's TV ratings are what MTV keeps track of. And the network is extremely pleased with the success of her show, which is now in its second season.

And although Simpson is famous for her revealing outfits and sexy videos, when she married husband Nick Lachey, Jessica was a virgin. "She did say that her decision to keep her virginity was more of a traditional thing," Smith told us. "Her belief in God did have something to do with it, but it wasn't entirely motivated by that."

But since she's tried it, Simpson reveals that she likes it. So is a baby next? "No babies," Simpson insisted. "I am definitely not pregnant."

Until this moment, Simpson was not just another reliable celebrity airhead but the one who on "Newlyweds," famously couldn't distinguish whether "Chicken of the Sea" was actually chicken or fish.

It's so depressing. It's also so unexpected.

"Is this chicken or is this fish? I know it's tuna. But it says chicken. By the sea." - Jessica Simpson

At least she's still blonde. But that's it. Instead of a fun, lighthearted conversation about suntan lotion and nachos, we're going to have to discuss Dostoyevsky. I suppose it was inevitable. What kind of person really thinks buffalo wings are actually made of buffalo?

Either someone who is cleverly playing dumb just to keep the masses entertained or a super-genius who is so preoccupied with communicating with alien life forms that she has no time to consider such mundane earthly things.

Then again, it's stupid to doubt someone who has taken a withering pop career and turned it into an all-devouring entertainment industry monster.

Simpson got a promising start on the back of Britney and Christina with her wholesome 1999 major-label debut, "Sweet Kisses," which sold more than 1.8 million copies. Its follow-up, "Irresistible," however, has sold just more than 600,000 since its release in 2001. And her most recent album, "In This Skin," which originally came out last year, barely staggered past gold status despite the success of the television show. It took the addition of a DVD, covers of Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" and Robbie Williams' "Angels," plus another major promotional push for the album to jump past 2 million.

It doesn't matter. Her personality is selling

"I think that freshness and that innocence is something that is missing from a lot of female singers. I'm certainly not denying that I'm young, but I'm not fluff." - Jessica Simpson

She may come off as a little naïve, but her determination to stick around seems to arouse a whiff of Madonna's savvy.

"I've definitely been smart this whole time, but I don't think it takes away from my ditzy side," Simpson says. "I'm a klutz. I'm clumsy. I don't think before I talk. I just ask any question that comes to my mind. I don't figure out in my head before I say something. I knew "Chicken of the Sea" was tuna fish, but for a split second, I had that thought of, wait, maybe the albacore kind is some kind of chicken flavor."

Right. Maybe we should check those test results again.

"A lot of my success has to do with my personality," she says. "Which is nice, because I'm kind of just successful for being me."

Simpson admits she laughs out loud when she sees herself on TV. "I definitely entertain myself."

[quote, interview extract from Aidin Vaziri, and photography obtained from MTV Music Awards 2004 and Golden Globes Awards 2004 - from]

Friday, February 04, 2005


Well. A show about nothing. Literally. Not only does this show utterly disgraces the couple, holds Jessica for more ridicule and embarrassment, people cannot help stop watching this pure piece of addictive television.

Everyone remembers the infamous quotes, the constant whinging, the sexy pouting...but do anyone actually remembers what these two "celebrities" actually do? Well, in the distant past, both were successful singers. Although both tried reviving their careers, only Mrs. Lachley had some moderate success. With this show sky rocketing in ratings for MTV, Jessica released an album, a few singles and not only did they achieve high chartings on the Billboard charts this year, but also across the world, especially here in Australia - where the show is also being showed.

"Newlyweds" started out as just a once-off special, filming the much anticipated wedding to Jessica Simpson and long time boyfriend, Nick Lachley. Then MTV filmed a series to show the couple struggling to live together, Jessica discussing inane subjects, and of course, lose her viginity (not on screen of course!).

With a new season premiering in the US in January 2005, WHO knows what the "blonde" one and the "muscular" one will have in store for us. Hopefully no more "chicken or tuna" comments please.