Sunday, September 16, 2007
Dinner with Madonna
When Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Kevin Flower, began gesticulating wildly at me from across the dinner table, pointing at his chest and mouthing some word I mistook for an obscenity, I thought maybe he was trying to tell me the bill was here and I owed him a LOT of money.

It took me a while to realize that he was actually pointing at a petite blonde sitting at the table behind him instantly recognizable as the one and only Madonna.

Suddenly, the place was buzzing. Waiters dropped their dishes. Diners stopped chewing and turned around to stare. The more quick-witted ones whipped out their mobile phones and snapped grainy pictures.

But while the rest of the place craned their necks to get a better look, I was shrinking into my seat hoping to disappear from view.

You see, I did a story recently on Madonna, Kabbalah and her visit to Israel for the Jewish holidays. Suddenly, face to face with the subject of my work, I was terrified.

I had a vision of her marching over and slapping me with her dinner napkin, deeply offended at my pathetic attempt to report on her celebrity supremacy as husband Guy Ritchie glowered at me from a distance.

So, I took decisive action. I decided to ignore her. I turned to a fellow journalist beside me for support.

"What about these rumors of the Egyptian President’s failing health? What does it all mean?" I asked in a desperate attempt to look serious and sound earnest, pretending to be utterly unconcerned with the superstar in our midst.

But it was unavoidable. All around me people wanted to talk Madonna. What kind of shoes is she wearing? What is she eating? Is it kosher? What size do you think she wears? She’s so tiny! Why does her hair look so great? Atika, why does her hair look so perfect? You have the best view!

That was the worst part. I had a clear shot to the Material Girl herself and I was too embarrassed to even glance in her direction.

My friend Katherine, a professional photographer who is much braver than me, suddenly announced, "I want to take her picture but I don’t have a camera."

Guiltily, sheepishly, I slid my CNN-paid-for videophone across the table to her, an enabler to paparazzi.

You know, as a journalist, I’ve walked into the aftermath of a tsunami, stared down the barrel of a kalashnikov, and run headfirst into a riot. I’ve interviewed presidents and prime ministers, even a convicted cannibal.

But I couldn’t even gather enough guts to press a button and take a photo of Madonna.

We struggled for at least 30 minutes like this. Giddily taking photos of each other. Surreptitiously zooming in on the real target behind us.

It was a mess.

The closest we got was a very unflattering picture of Bureau Chief Kevin Flower and Madonna’s two bodyguards blocking the view behind him.

So, at the restaurants urging, we finally paid the bill and walked out, utterly defeated.

Of course, I’m sure Madonna had no idea what was going on. She probably didn’t even watch CNN and had never even seen my piece on air and didn’t give a hoot except to think: What a bunch of losers these people at the next table are.

Outside, the paparazzi pounced on us as we exited, flashing and snapping their cameras then groaning when they realized their mistake.

What was I doing? I should have elbowed her bodyguards aside, brazenly snapped a photo and demanded an interview with Madonna mid-bite. That's what a real journalist would do.

So, Madonna, I apologize for not doing my job and interrupting your dinner and bombarding you with questions until I was forcibly removed from the building.

I admit it: When it comes to celebrities, I am a bad journalist.

-- From CNN International Correspondent Atika Shubert in Jerusalem.
I thought your idea of intruding into her life once again was over the top. As a human being you should just ate your food after all you where their to support the restaurant and not the people. This story only shows the true meaning of your lack of information you have towards another person, Madonna is not the person you read on vogue magazines, she's a human trying to find out who she is in life and why she is here, your just another guy with a pen and a press pass, camera for another story, your 15 minutes of famed are over.

MEDAVOG
Yep, indeed-earth shattering experience!!...Madonna, Goddess of fire/lust/and fertility...

Now, can someone please Blog about another -younger- celebrity by the name Yousiff, the 6 year old kid who's face was burned by this tragic war. A war, we the U.S caused..I know, I know...a not so glamorous of a story, but hey some of us want to hear about him!

And no one got a chance to report on what kind of a designer shoes mother of all materialistic things was wearing....Darn!
Is this why you are stationed in Israel? To cover Madonna's visit?

How about visiting the soldiers injured by the Kassam attack inside Isarel? How about doing a piece on the suffering of some of the victims of the Disco bombing years ago who still are battling with recovery? How about speaking to the parents of children killed by suicide bombers?

No, you go after Madonna! Really.
i agree with the other comment... although she is a fascinating person, she's only human... she probably thinks exactly what we think when we hear people murmuring at the next table and taking akward glances at us... 'idiots!'....
That was the most immature article I ever read. So I am not interested in reading your comments about Madonna & the Kabbalah...as if she would have recognized you...I think this Journalist should look for another job...Oye..
Carrie H...
I watch with amusement while OJ is beat from post to post by the news media and their hiddne agenda. Quite frankly it is disturbing to see the jackaels and hyenas on the tube bemoaning the fact they have been stealing from him for years and he has finally had enough !

One crime deserves another since claerly the police refused to do anything about that !

It's all about surreptious agendas by backroom hypocrites.

Oh and by the way, I'm white.
Leave Madonna alone please. People look to her for guidance and direction. Isn't it obvious that this woman is as confused as we all are. Her truth is not yours nor mine. She needs Kabbalah to teach her how to live in peace - anyone who needs religion to define life is someone who is seeking direction themself. Find your own truth. Your discomfort in seeing her probably has nothing to do with her, rather your discomfort for being an enabler of this super-sensationalized, substanceless, reckless and irresponsible media industry.
Atika:
Like the rest of us, Madonna probably wakes up with bad breath every morning, curses when she stubs her toe, and puts on her pants like 99.9 percent of the world. Ah, but she is a celebrity.

I believe interupting celebrities during their "own time" is respecting their privacy. But if she was dancing on the tables screaming for the impeachment of President Bush, well, that might be considered newsworthy....for about a minute.
While I agree that the world is entrenched in many newsworthy events (the war, the tragedy, the chaos), I see nothing wrong with a little fluff once in a while. I enjoyed reading this blog. It was ironic and funny, giving me a much-needed chuckle.

Come on, people, lighten up!
Anonymous above - If that "little fluff" of "Chuckle" was written/blogged by let's say.... my own teenager, or yours for that matter, that would be amusing and funny....But, to see it coming from an International Correspondent....Ya Habibi, it sounds ridiculous!
This is journalism at its finest. ;)
Dinner with Madonna? How would I be able to keep my food down? I'd need two buckets nearby. One to vomit in and one to put over her head.

Better yet, maybe just one bucket would work.
Good grief--who cares about Madonna anyway?? Its amusing to read this--she is a bit on the looney side. I mean she is British one week, Jewish the next--what a weirdo--and she can be totally nasty. Interview someone with some CLASS.
Good friend, why waste time on this 'immaterial girl'? Go to Myanmar..there's some action there, it is about humanity being shot at.

If UN, and all, really sincere, many effective actions can be taken. Think about it. Foremost their fat bank accounts (as done on Taliban terrorists), Switz Bank can't stay neutral(they're supporting evil to prosper than!) travels outside the country - UN based blanket policy or edict! on targeted individuals...something like my 'hated' Microsoft passport! All the best. hiltan
Totally agree that this was a very enjoyable piece, and readers should also be a bit more understanding of situations. Let's not make incorrect and quick assumptions before reading the piece completely.
Nice piece of journalistic life, Akita. At least it proves that every cloud, no matter how dark, does have its silver lining. I enjoyed it very much and look forward to your next piece, no matter the pressing news or subject you choose.
My most sincere congratulations,
Tony
Pity, Madona is victim of her own celebrity status, every body is interested in knowing more her about her shoes, her dress, and her looks, but there is definitely a human side of her , perhaps papparazis and journos are not interested in this.
I think Madonna appreciated that you didnt interreput her meal for a photograph and a brief interview. I mean, regardless whether you're a celebrity or not, you wouldnt want anyone interrupting you while you eat. And as a well mannered journalist, letting her enjoy her meal without you bugging her is highly appreciated.
To Posting By Anonymous : 10:12 PM ET:
And what does being white have to do with anything mentioned here?? Guilt is guilt! This posting makes no sense.
Atika,

Thank you for sharing your experience with the rest of us. I too enjoyed the chuckle.
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