Madonna-Timberlake duet, '4 Minutes,' is firecracker hot

The Baltimore Sun

On April 28, Madonna's final album for Warner Records - her home base for 25 years - debuts. The first single, a duet with Justin Timberlake titled "4 Minutes," has rocketed up the Top 40 Countdown meter faster than any song in the chart's 38-year history. It is No. 1 on iTunes. Perhaps most significantly, Ellen DeGeneres shimmies to it every day on her TV show. (Ellen now equals Oprah in shaping cultural cravings. If either of these women says, "Buy it! Love it!" - millions do.)

So Madonna's swan song for Warner might be her biggest hit ever. The "4 Minutes" video features Madonna - relentlessly athletic, and Justin, effortlessly limber - dancing up a storm.

We've heard some snarky comments about Justin "making music with his mommy" but in the video, there seems to be hardly a year between them. She will be 50 in August; he is 26. You'd never know that Madonna could, chronologically, be his mother, watching the pair bump and grind in "4 Minutes." (Madonna is toned to the max; a disciplined life is not to be despised!)

Lunch with Love

All eyes were on an odd couple lunching at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont last Friday - director/auteur Quentin Tarantino and rocker/controversy-magnet Courtney Love.

The pair was head-to-head for more than two hours and the subject of their conversation was mostly confined to vintage movies and stars of the 1940s, '50s and '60s. Quentin, who is a well-known film buff, seemed rather stunned by Courtney's knowledge. There didn't seem to be an era, a star or a genre that Miss Love didn't recognize, appreciate and weigh in on.

This is no surprise to me. Several years ago, Courtney called my office to talk about her plans to do a musical movie based on the life of nightclub performer Texas Guinan. Not only did Courtney know everything about Guinan, she was familiar with the Betty Hutton movie on the same subject, knew all about Hutton's career, and then she veered off into six other film-related subjects - and a few other things as well. She is very smart, fast-talking, articulate, profane and exhausting. When I got off the phone with her, I was reminded of Noel Coward's remark about Tallulah Bankhead - "a day without Tallulah is like a week in the country."

Back story

We told you here last week about director Franco Zeffirelli in Manhattan, being honored for the latest Metropolitan Opera production of his La Boheme. While he was in New York, the Italian Cultural Institute also feted Franco.

During the party, writer Gregory Speck asked Zeffirelli why he'd never succeeded in mounting an Aida for the Met? Franco said, "Back in 1961, the Met's Rudolph Bing offered me a commission to design a new Aida. But he insisted I use Birgit Nilsson, in blackface. I said, 'Why can't I use Leontyne Price, the great African-American diva?' Bing was impossible, and refused and that was that. I've struggled for 45 years to convince the Met to allow me to do Aida, but it has never worked out." Franco added, "And with Peter Gelb running things now, I doubt I ever will."

Hmmm ... there is always drama in opera-land!

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