Madonna confirms her adoption push in Malawi
Mchinji, Malawi — Madonna said Tuesday that she was following standard procedures in her adoption of a Malawian girl, her first response to accusations that she is using her fame to speed the process.
The pop superstar also took her 3-year-old adopted son, David, to visit the orphanage in Mchinji, a village near the Zambian border, where he once lived.
Madonna brought David on Monday to meet his biological father for the first time since he left Malawi in 2006.
“Madonna is committed to maintaining an ongoing relationship with David’s Malawian roots,” said Liz Rosenberg in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
She also confirmed Madonna is trying to adopt a girl named Chifundo “Mercy” James who is about 4 years old.
“Madonna is currently awaiting a judge’s ruling regarding the adoption of Mercy James. She is following all standard procedures that are required,” Rosenberg wrote.
A Malawian judge held a closed-door hearing Monday on Madonna’s application to adopt the girl but delayed ruling on the matter until Friday.
Grieving Liam Neeson finishes work on film
Toronto — Liam Neeson has completed work on “Chloe,” the film he was shooting when wife Natasha Richardson died after falling on a beginners’ slope at a Canadian ski resort.
The actor quietly slipped into Toronto for a couple of days last week to complete work on the thriller, also starring Julianne Moore.
Richardson died March 18 after falling and hitting her head during a ski lesson at Quebec’s Mont Tremblant two days earlier.
The Tony-winning actress was buried at a private ceremony in upstate New York on March 22.
A publicist for the Atom Egoyan film “Chloe,” Lisa Ghione, said Neeson completed his scenes on Friday, and the shoot wrapped Saturday.
Steve Martin to make Grand Ole Opry debut
Nashville, Tenn. — Steve Martin is coming to the Grand Ole Opry, and he’s bringing his banjo.
The comedian, actor, author, playwright and musician will make his debut on the long-running country music program May 30.
An Opry spokeswoman says Martin will perform songs from his first musical album, “The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo.” Performing with him will be friends Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Stuart Duncan, Tim O’Brien and John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Martin, who’s been playing banjo since he was 17, wrote or co-wrote all the songs on the new album, which features several guests including Gill, Dolly Parton and bluegrass great Earl Scruggs.
The album is now sold exclusively through Amazon.com but will be available at other music retailers later this year.
Downey gives Sherlock Holmes action update
Las Vegas — Leave it to Robert Downey Jr. to turn Sherlock Holmes into a wisecracking action hero who ends up handcuffed naked to a bed.
Downey offered a sneak peek Tuesday of “Sherlock Holmes,” his new take on the cerebral detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Theater owners attending their annual ShoWest convention got to see Downey’s Holmes in a bruising boxing match, diving from a tall building into London’s Thames River and trading barbs with roommate Dr. Watson (Jude Law), who complains about the detective’s slovenliness and nocturnal violin playing.
Despite the saucy swagger and attitude of Downey’s “Sherlock Holmes,” directed by Guy Ritchie, the actor said the movie is true to the spirit of Conan Doyle’s stories, which have plenty of action.
Released by Warner Bros., “Sherlock Holmes” is due in theaters Christmas Day.
‘Real Housewives’ countess separates
New York — The Countess is losing her husband but keeping her title.
Countess LuAnn de Lesseps, one of the cast members on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York,” has separated from Count Alexandre de Lesseps after 16 years of marriage.
The reality player’s publicist, Elizabeth Rosenthal, issued a statement Tuesday saying the couple “plan to remain friends and their primary focus will be to do what is best for their two children.”
The countess and count have a 15-year-old daughter, Victoria, and a 13-year-old son, Noel.
Rosenthal declined to comment on reports the breakup came after the former model learned her husband was having a relationship with another woman.
But the Countess will keep her title, says Rosenthal. Her etiquette book, “Class With the Countess,” arrives April 16.
Makeup, fashion gurus sue Queen Latifah
New York — A makeup artist and a fashion stylist claim in coordinated lawsuits that they got ugly treatment from Queen Latifah when she cheated them out of $1 million.
Celebrity cosmetology consultant Roxanna Floyd says she lost $700,000 when the rapper-actress failed to pay her for work she did between July 2005 and February 2008.
In a separate lawsuit, celebrity fashion stylist Susan Moses said she was cheated of $300,000 during the same period.
The lawsuits were filed Monday in federal court in Manhattan.