Madonna top-earning celebrity trumping Spielberg, Forbes says


She's still the Material Girl.

Pop diva Madonna 55, is the world's top-earning celebrity, according to a Forbes list released on Monday, raking in an estimated $125 million in the past year, mainly from her $305 million-grossing MDNA tour, but helped by sales of clothing, fragrance and various investments.

Director Steven Spielberg, who had a big hit last year with “Lincoln,” was a distant second with earnings of $100 million in the year ended June 2013, most of which came from his catalog of past hits such as “E.T.” and “Jurassic Park,” which continue to bring in big bucks.

“Madonna's success, at age 55, just goes to show the incredible power of a successful music career,” Forbes reporter Dorothy Pomerantz said, noting that 27-year-old pop singer Lady Gaga has often been said to be channeling Madonna's four-decade-long career.

“The young star is certainly emulating Madonna when it come to raking in money,” Forbes said, with her $80 million in earnings largely from the singer's “Born This Way Ball” world tour, placing Gaga 10th on the list.

Forbes compiles its annual list of celebrity earnings using input from agents, managers, producers and others to calculate its estimates for each celebrity's entertainment-related earnings. The figures do not reflect tax deductions, agent fees or “the other expenses of being a celebrity.”

Madonna's top spot compares with her previous peak of $110 million in 2009, but falls short of the $165 million taken in by Oprah Winfrey in the previous year, Forbes said.

Talk show queen and media mogul Winfrey took a big pay cut this year according to Forbes, falling to No. 13 on the list with earnings of $77 million.

At No. 3 with earnings of $95 million in the past year was a three-way tie among “50 Shades of Grey” author E.L. James, radio shock jock Howard Stern and music and television producer Simon Cowell.

Others in the top 10 earners included TV host Glenn Beck, director Michael Bay of the “Transformers” franchise, and thriller novelist James Patterson, who Forbes said was now the best-selling author of all time.

Both Spielberg and Bay also made last year's top 10, though with significantly larger earnings.

The full list of top-earning celebrities can be viewed at www.forbes.com.

Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Eric Walsh

Kicking off tour, Madonna shows she’s no lady (Gaga)


Pop superstar Madonna kicked off a new world tour on Thursday wishing peace on the Middle East even as she showcased grim dance routines depicting violence and bloody gunmen among her more colorful numbers.

Madonna, 53, mixed hit songs over three decades in music with tunes from her recent album, “MDNA,” before a packed audience, and she took a sly dig at younger diva, Lady Gaga.

“She’s not me!” Madonna sang at the end of “Express Yourself,” which she had reworked to include a sampling of Lady Gaga’s recent “Born This Way.”

That song from Lady Gaga, who emerged on the pop music scene about four years ago and has enjoyed a huge following in recent years, has been cited by many music fans and critics as being very similar to Madonna’s late 1980s dance club smash.

Since Lady Gaga, 26, released “Born This Way,” fans and music lovers have speculated that a generational challenge was in the works between the two women and comedians have poked fun at any imagined rivalry between the two.

Despite occasional lighthearted touches such as a baton-twirling routine in cheerleader formation and a psychedelic homage to Indian philosophy, the dominant mood at Thursday’s concert in Tel Aviv seemed more grim with a stage shrouded in black and red and costumes that often appeared ominous.

VIRGIN SACRIFICE

“Like a Virgin,” a dance tune that helped propel Madonna to stardom as risqué pop ingénue in the 1980s, was performed as a mournful cabaret with violin accompaniment. At one point, the singer was trussed up and hoisted into the air by four male dancers, then lowered onto a platform as though into a volcano – a virgin sacrifice.

For “Gang Bang,” Madonna wrestled with armed intruders whom she then dispatched with a pistol – their “blood” spattering across an enormous video backdrop. In a routine for “Revolver”, she wielded a Kalashnikov rifle, used by many modern-day insurgents, while one of her dancers favored an Israeli Uzi.

The exertions never sapped her confident singing, though she did become somewhat breathless during remarks to the audience at Ramat Gan stadium on Tel Aviv’s outskirts.

“I chose to start my world tour in Israel for a very specific and important reason. As you know, the Middle East and all the conflicts that have been occurring here for thousands of years – they have to stop,” she said to cheers.

A devotee of Jewish mysticism, Madonna had dubbed the first leg of her 28-country “MDNA” tour the “Peace Concert” and distributed free tickets to some of the Palestinians who attended from the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Among them was a woman named Yasmine, who declined to give her last name in light of Palestinian calls to boycott the Madonna concert and other cultural events in Israel. She offered a mixed assessment of the show.

“I wasn’t a fan of the intro. It was too aggressive and massacre-like,” Yasmine said. “Her (Madonna’s) speech about peace and the mention of Palestine was heartfelt, though.”

Avihay Asseraf, an Israeli who dedicated a Facebook page to Madonna’s visit, was more sanguine about the darker displays.

“That’s how she chose to express herself this time,” he said. “Ultimately this is a show, a spectacle, and it’s all for fun.”

Reporting by Dan Williams; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte