Britney Spears finally launches her tour | EW.com

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Britney Spears finally launches her tour

Plus, news about the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Brad Pitt, Ellen DeGeneres, James Gandolfini, Ben Stiller, Whoopi Goldberg, and others

Britney Spears

(Britney Spears: Herb Ritts)

SOUND BITES ”I’m not a little girl anymore,” Britney Spears told the crowd at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, where she finally kicked off her tour last night. ”I’m real happy where I am in my life right now. I’m just trying to find the woman in me.” The 90-minute show found the 19-year-old playing dress-up, however – as a ballerina, a jungle queen, and a fur-clad socialite, courted by tuxedo’d dancers, as in her idol Madonna’s ”Material Girl” video. For the encore of ”…Baby One More Time,” she wore a see-through raincoat and was drenched by a shower, not evoking Gene Kelly so much as Jennifer Beals in ”Flashdance.” See, she’s not a little girl – she’s old enough to remember the ’80s.

Are the Rolling Stones going to tour North America next year? Mick Jagger and Keith Richards met recently to discuss the possibility of going on the road for the first time in three years. The band hasn’t toured the U.S. without a new album to promote since 1975, but they’ll still have a good excuse: 2002 marks the Stones’ 40th anniversary….

Organizers of the Oct. 20 Concert for New York claim the Paul McCartney-headlined show has generated $30 million for the Robin Hood Relief Fund for the city’s Sept. 11 victims. Some $14 million reportedly came from ticket sales to the Madison Square Garden event, while the rest came from telephone and Internet pledges. Even more donations should come in the form of purchases of the two-disc CD of the event, which is due in stores Nov. 27.

Also, McCartney says that popular demand has led him to release ”Freedom,” the anthem he debuted at the show, as a benefit single. He’d already planned to release his new ”From a Lover to a Friend” as a charity single as well. Both songs should be in stores in a few days.

INVISIBLE Given the hype surrounding (and generated by) Michael Jackson as he promotes his new CD ”Invincible,” you’d have expected to see more of him on last night’s broadcast of ”United We Stand – What More Can I Give,” the Oct. 21 benefit concert he headlined, and whose title was augmented to include the name of his upcoming charity single. Indeed, ABC had been touting Jackson’s performance in its own ads for the broadcast. But he appeared only during the last eight minutes of the show, unannounced, as just one of an all-star finale singing along to ”What More Can I Give.” The reason? CBS is broadcasting a Jacko special on Nov. 13, and he was contractually obligated not to appear as a featured performer on any competing network’s show within a month of that date. CBS scheduled the broadcast, an edited version of Jackson’s 30th anniversary self-tribute concerts from early September, months ago as a November sweeps event, well before the Sept. 11 disaster or the ad hoc benefits that were staged in its wake. So at Jackson’s request, ABC had to cut his solo performance of ”Man in the Mirror.” Such non-compete clauses are common for performers on TV music specials; in August, MTV granted an exemption to Alicia Keys after ”Soul Train” guru Don Cornelius complained that MTV was using its Video Music Awards clout to keep performers off his ”Lady of Soul” awards show airing a few days earlier.

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