December 30, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

They are the stars who know what they want. And what we want. And they don’t disappoint. They give hell and get headlines back. They know what works. Dependable, and comforting in their way.

Ucky Star How many times did she violate her March 31 appearance on Late Show with the F-word? A hundred? No, just 13, but very Madonna nonetheless.

Esteem-Powered It took an estimated $20 million, paid for her New Year’s Las Vegas concerts, to cure Barbra Streisand of stage fright. And so she set out on tour. No relapse — no wonder, at up to $350 per ticket. And who patronized her perfectionism? Who paid for all that carpet laid to customize her arenas? We did. Fine, Babs, need some for the house while we’re at it? (But which house?)

Stupid Is as Smart Does … Meryl Streep, always the brainy one. Said that reading Robert James Waller’s best-seller The Bridges of Madison County was not ”a religious experience.” Yet surely the signing of a reported $5 million deal to star in the movie version opposite Clint Eastwood was cause for rejoicing in a hundred different accents.

Is He Lonesome Tonight? Only last summer Michael Jackson, the sideshow freak sustained by his main-attraction talent, married Lisa Marie Presley, further freaking out a wide-eyed world; he also added untold millions to his legendary fortune via her claims on the vast Presley music library. Shyly — or shrewdly — he issued a press release about the blessed event 11 weeks after the fact. Oh, the mystery — or the carefully plotted contradictions. The newlyweds, heads down — wearing sunglasses at midnight — chose as their hiding place one of the most public domiciles on Earth: midtown Manhattan’s sparkling Trump Tower. Happily ever after? Happily for the Donald anyway — he got a press conference out of it.

Let’s Overspend the Night Together Don’t think the Rolling Stones are growing sluggish in their mission to gather mossy-green money. Like many football teams, the band now licenses its own logo — big red lips and menacing tongue — on Visas and MasterCards.

Kiss and tell us: Slick public relations, or stars simply doing what comes naturally? Well, rumblings of Michael and Lisa’s divorce sound like Amtrak approaching, and Madonna claimed that she and Dave planned their bout (he categorically denied it) before she went on (and on and on). The two later appeared together at the MTV Video Music Awards, strolling toward the podium like two teenagers in love. Heavyweights is more like it, paid with applause, and applauded with pay. And nobody seemed to care if the fight was fixed.

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