Between a needles-and-drugs-heavy induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the upcoming release of a hotly buzzed new album touched by Timbahands, cooch-bearing prizefighter Madonna has had a run lately of the sort of positive, lightly controversial publicity that has defined her career from its jelly-bracelet-adorned nascency. But now comes another wave of unwelcome and unorchestrated chatter from the British tabloid press, saying the singer and her filmmaker husband of seven years Guy Ritchie have finally agreed to go their separate ways:
The couple's pals told Britain's Sun newspaper yesterday they're already living separate lives, having divided their country and city homes into "his and hers quarters" to avoid each other.
"The marriage is hanging by a thread. No one doubts they adore their three kids, but the children seem to be the only reason they are living this strange loveless existence," one friend of the couple told the paper.
Madonna is headed to Manhattan with Lourdes, 11, Rocco, 7, and David, 2, Britain's News of the World reports, quoting one source: "Madonna and Guy are over. It's all very amicable. They've just fallen out of love with each other."
Baloney, says Madonna's rep, Liz Rosenberg. "All is well and wonderful in the Ritchie household," she told us. "Their marriage is definitely not hanging by a thread. Madonna has no plans to move to New York . . . Separate wings? I think not. I am delighted to confirm [they] remain happily married . . . They're still both sharing Cloud 9 - as opposed to Client 9, ha-ha!"
Despite her warhorse flack's admirable attempt at defusing the snowballing story with some slightly stale, philandering-politico humor, the clues keep piling up: Under the unfeeling headling "Lonely wives club," Mrs. Ritchie was spotted by the Daily Mail dining with fellow U.S.-shunning celebrity expat Gwyneth Paltrow last night, without their respective, significantly pasty others in tow. They even goes so far as to suggest that Paltrow and Chris Martin's marriage is also...gasp..."enduring rumours of discord," with the couple only staying together for the sake of the produce.