FORGET THE crucifix. No, really. It has already become the visual image of Madonna’s spectacular (and spectacularly ambitious) “Confessions” concert. But as usual, there is more to M’s work than meets the eye. The “blasphemous” sequence, in which she sings “Live To Tell” suspended on a cross, is accompanied by desperate images and dire statistics about children dying of AIDS in Africa. Why the cross? Don’t ask M, who’ll only tell you her work must speak for itself and she believes in the intelligence and imagination of her audience.

In spite of the crucifix controversy, this show contains some of the greatest set-pieces of Madonna’s career. “Music” is transformed into an homage to 1970s disco in general and John Travolta in his white-suited “Saturday Night Fever” persona in particular. This incredible number is worth the exorbitant price of admission. There is her entrance from the ceiling in a giant glitter ball… “Like A Virgin” performed in her dominatrix equestrian outfit, playfully gyrating like a 20-year-old on an oversized saddle.

Even if you are not especially a Madonna fan, I defy anybody to watch this woman work for two hours onstage and come away unimpressed.

One of the happiest people at Madonna’s concert was pal Rosie O’Donnell, loaded down with camera equipment. It was her first time out with a digital camera; she usually prefers old-fashioned film–“I love that darkroom smell!” Rosie compared notes with celeb lensman Kevin Mazer, much loved for his talent and good manners. Rosie has long documented Madonna’s concerts. “I send her scrapbooks. I figure when we’re both 80 we’ll be in rocking chairs, going, ‘Ah, remember the ‘Confessions’ tour, honey?'”

Maybe. But I have a feeling M will be on her “Madonna 80: Ready, Willing and Still Able” tour.

ON TNT’s “The Closer,” Kyra Sedgwick has created one of the most fascinating characters ever to solve a TV crime. Sedgwick is a revelation; a flinty Southern belle, insecure but determined not to show it — silk on one side, gleaming steel on the other. “The character was there on the page, this amazing creature, but as we’ve gone on, I’ve had a lot of input, and sometimes now I feel we are very much alike,” she says. “The mix of fragility and strength, her ethics and refusal to apologize for her power or her femininity is very appealing.” … Sedgwick, married for 18 years to Kevin Bacon, has had a long and eclectic career — movies, TV, stage. A reliably excellent actress who has never — until now — had her “moment.” Does she feel it? “Well, that’s nice that people think that. I’m happy to be working. … The only difficult part of this is being away from my family. I’ve never had a six-month gig that took me so far away.” … Kyra wants to keep her foot in moviemaking. “Loverboy,” directed by her husband, co-stars Matt Dillon and Blair Brown,

THE CAST of “Will & Grace” was at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in Greenwich Village last week where Neil LaBute’s newest play “Some Girl(s)” is previewing starring their own Eric McCormack. Eric is acting with Fran Drescher, Maura Tierney, Judy Reyes and Brooke Smith who scored so well in the last two episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy.” (She played the heart transplant surgeon who was battling to keep a heart for her own patient, but ended up assisting the “Grey’s Anatomy” team.) … Donny Osmond will star in September for nine weeks, as the incredible Gaston in Disney’s ongoing hit “Beauty and the Beast.”

THE TALENTED Charles Grodin hasn’t made a movie in 12 years but we’ll see him in 2007 in the Weinstein Company movie “Fast Track.” This reunites Charles with Mia Farrow, with whom he appeared in 1968’s “Rosemary’s Baby.” It also stars Zach Braff, Amanda Peet and Jason Bateman. For a while Charles had given up show biz to be a stay-at-home dad to his children. Son Nick has a small role in “Fast Track” and is also in “Margaret” with Anna Paquin, Matt Damon and Matthew Broderick. Daughter Marion is a standup comic who’ll open for Linda Ronstadt at the Beacon on June 2. … On June 5, Charles has a new play “The Prosecution of Brandon Hein” at the Culture Project in New York City. The day before he’ll be receiving the Wm. Moses Kuntsler Award for racial justice.

A lot of the elite went to the Le Cirque “friends” cocktail party in the big tent smack in the middle of the Bloomberg Building. The favorite items devoured in the new kitchen? Le Cirque doughnuts and individual, bite-sized creme brule.

E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com