Recall the greatest celebrity feuds of all time: There's Britney and Christina. Leno and Letterman. Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell. Piers Morgan and ... Madonna?
The new host of "Piers Morgan Tonight" is no fan of The Material Girl: His CNN talk show has yet to air, and he's already banned her as a guest. Morgan fanned the flames at the CNN Television Critics Association Winter 2011 Session last week, calling Madonna "an irritant in my life for the past 20 years" and demanding an on-air apology if she ever wished to be on his show.
Bitter, table for one?
Morgan initially criticized Madonna's "boring" personality for the ban. "She is too vegan for TV. We have Lady Gaga now so Madonna is banned from my show," he told the Daily Express in December. But when Billy Bush grilled him on the subject on "Access Hollywood" this week, Morgan cryptically answered: "There's a few things (that) have happened. She knows."
So with narrowed eyes and Matt Lauer-esque determination, Bush pressed some more -- "What did she do to you?" -- prompting Morgan to 'fess up with some vague examples.
"We've never really seen eye to eye," he conceded. "There was a bread-roll-throwing incident in London in the mid-nineties. There was an incident at a hotel in the South of France at the Cannes Film Festival involving a photographer and a bodyguard. There was an incident involving a pub owned by her recently departed husband Guy Ritchie. My brother was the manager."
Fired up, Morgan added: "You know the worst thing Madonna did to me? Madonna's publicist said to me, 'Listen to me. Madonna is not pregnant.' And I was running a newspaper. I said, 'Are you sure?' 'Listen to me, Piers: Madonna is not pregnant.' Next day they announced it on a rival newspaper's website. It's a series of crimes."
The British troublemaker, who was a judge on "America's Got Talent," was a tabloid newspaper editor in another life, previously running the titles News of the World and Daily Mirror for a period of time from 1994 to 2004. Madonna was a British expat during those years; she relocated across the pond after meeting (and marrying) Ritchie, and gave birth to their son Rocco in 2000.
Madonna's publicist, Liz Rosenberg, did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
Whatever happened between Morgan and the music legend, it appears Morgan was an eager combatant: The ex-journalist has a history of ruffling feathers and inciting feuds. As a tabloid editor, he became notorious for his aggressive, contrarian nature and indifference toward celebrities' right to privacy. In 2004, he was fired from the Daily Mirror after publishing photos of British soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners that were found to be fake.
After that controversy, Morgan turned to a career in TV -- and, unsurprisingly, the medium suited his larger-than-life character. Besides his stint on "America's Got Talent," he judged "Britain's Got Talent" and impressed Trump as the 2008 winner of "The Celebrity Apprentice." His CNN show premieres Jan. 17.
You would think Morgan has too much going on to bring up a stale old beef with a pop star who likely could not care less. Perhaps that's his clever ploy to get attention on his new show? It's working -- but not on Madonna. She'll probably just shrug it off and go back to teaching a dance class.