May 15, 1998 12:00 AM

In what is being billed as a first, an official Madonna convention, supported by her Warner Bros. recording label, is scheduled to be held this coming Sunday at The Hollywood Palace on Vine St. in, well, Hollywood, according to the Web site for the $25-per-ticket event. (Warner Bros., like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner.) The 7 p.m.-1 a.m. gathering, which is meant to commemorate the pop star’s 18-year career, is expected to include dance contests, a lookalike competition, and an auction of Material Girl memorabilia (including autographed pictures and costumes from Madonna’s videos) — but no Madonna, 42, despite the fact that she is expected in Los Angeles this week to do the opening number at Wednesday night’s Grammys. In lieu of the star herself, Viva, said to be Madonna’s favorite impersonator will appear. As for Madonna and the Grammys, the star has come to Eminem’s defense in a letter to the Los Angeles Times that ran over the weekend. “What is the big deal about Eminem?” she wrote in response to the protests over his album of the year Grammy nomination for his controversial “The Marshall Mathers LP.” “Since when is offensive language a reason for being unpopular? I find the language of George W. much more offensive.”

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