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Madonna (and her blouse) open in London play

Madonna (and her blouse) open in London play. Plus, news about Courtney Love, Alabama, Korn, ”Celebrity Boxing II,” ”Daredevil,” Jeremy Sisto, Yancy Butler, Cher, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Douglas, Michael J. Fox, Bono, and others

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Madonna, Tom Irwin, ...
Madonna: Dave Benett/Alpha/Globe

CURTAIN CALL After a couple weeks of previews, Madonna officially made her London stage debut Thursday with the opening night of ”Up for Grabs.” The pop star plays an art dealer in David Williamson‘s play. Onstage, she hangs out in trendy downtown Manhattan, hobnobs with artists, displays brazen ambition, tries to squeeze another couple million dollars out of a client, plays with sex toys, kisses a woman, and (in an apparent accident in Thursday’s performance), pops a couple buttons on her blouse and exposes her bra. In other words, a typical day at the office for Madonna.

Still, newspaper critics were lukewarm, suggesting that the play could use a livelier lead. Said the Independent, ”Madonna is so busy concentrating on rehearsed effects that she fails to create any sense of spontaneous connection.” The Times of London wrote, ”She looks terrific, moves sinuously, suggests a certain waywardness and… generates some emotional heat. But she never forthrightly imposes herself on the role and, especially during a low-key, low-voice opening, could use a mike.” The Guardian referred to the star as ”Mechanical Girl.” Nonetheless, she got a standing ovation from a celeb-studded opening night crowd that included husband Guy Ritchie, Sting and Trudie Styler, Donatella Versace, and Stella McCartney. The play’s two-month run is sold out. Notes the 60-year-old playwright, ”I’ll probably go down in history as the writer whose name they cannot remember who wrote the play Madonna was in.”

SOUND BITES In an announcement that came as little surprise, Courtney Love and guitarist Eric Erlandson made it official that Hole is no more. Love led the band through a tumultuous decade that saw Hole sell 7 million copies of its three albums and made Love a star of music and film, but which also included the suicide of her husband, Nirvana‘s Kurt Cobain and the death-by-heroin-overdose of Hole bassist Kristin Pfaff. The band, largely inactive since 1999, consisted of Love, Erlandson, and a Spinal Tap-like revolving door of female bassists and drummers. ”I will always treasure the time we played together,” Love said in her statement. ”Eric has been an important part of my family for over 10 years and he’ll continue to be a part of my life.” Said Erlandson, ”We’re incredibly proud of the music we’ve made together, but it seems like time for both of us to move on.”

Love blamed the band’s demise in part on her ongoing legal battles with Universal Music over her desire to terminate her contract and sign with a new label. ”Universal’s lawsuit against us made it impossible for us to find a new record company despite overwhelming interest from other labels,” Love said. ”After three years of waiting, Eric and I have decided to put Hole to rest.” Love said she’s working on a new collaboration with Patty Schemel (the second of Hole’s three drummers) and Linda Perry, the former 4 Non Blondes singer best known these days as Pink‘s producer….

Also calling it quits is Alabama, one of the most successful country bands of all time. After more than 20 years and 65 million albums sold, the band announced its dissolution backstage at Wednesday’s Academy of Country Music Awards. (It’s last album is aptly titled ”When It All Goes South.”) The band still plans to go on the road one more time. Said frontman Randy Owen, ”After long thought and thinking very deeply, and while we still love one another, while we still care very deeply about one another, we want to announce to the fans all across the world that starting next year in 2003, it will be our farewell tour.”…