“I remember just being so excited to wear [the gown to the Oscars],” Kidman said. “And then I remember Madonna coming up to me at the after party — and I was, you know, still very new to everything — and saying ‘best dressed! Best dressed!'” Remember, in the primitive, pre-social media days of ’97, the notion of “Best Dressed” wasn’t quite the orchestrated production that it is today.
Madonna thinks artists deep into their careers should stop if they don’t have anything more to say. But at 56, the singer says she still has things to talk about, and in short, she feels like Pablo Picasso.
“I like to compare myself to other kinds of artists like Picasso. He kept painting and painting until the day he died. Why? Because I guess he felt inspired to do so,” she said. “Life inspired him, so he had to keep expressing himself, and that’s how I feel.”
Madonna released her self-titled debut album in 1983, and her latest album, “Rebel Heart,” earlier this year. She said the key to sticking around is her continual desire to inspire others.
“I don’t think there’s a time, a date, an expiration date for being creative,” she said. “I think you go until you don’t have any more to say.”
The pop icon will launch her Rebel Heart Tour on Sept. 9 in Montreal. The tour includes more than 60 shows across North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.
“The theme I really truly explore in this show more than anything is love and romance,” she said in a phone interview from her home in New York City last week. “I want people to walk out like they’re feeling inspired and like they’ve seen something they’ve never seen before (and) felt something they’ve never felt before.”
Comedian Amy Schumer, whose new movie “Trainwreck” opened impressively at No. 2 with $30.2 million last weekend, will open for three Madonna shows in New York.
“She’s a role model for women, and I am too, and I think it’s a good match,” said Madonna, who added that the idea to bring Schumer on board came from the singer’s management team. “I love her and … I just thought, ‘That’s interesting.’ (I’ll) try something new and different rather than the usual run-of-the-mill — have a band, have a DJ. It’s definitely a new thing. I hope it works — fingers crossed.”
Madonna says picking the set list for her upcoming tour has been hard, mainly because she wants to sing her newest songs but also satisfy her longtime, die-hard fans.
“I realize I have 32 years of other songs, so I have to pick and choose. I sit there for weeks and weeks and weeks trying to figure out which of my old catalogue I want to do,” she said. “It’s a puzzle that we have to put together ’cause thematically the songs — the old and the new — they have to go together; sonically they have to go together.”
She’s even picky about the costumes onstage.
“What people wear, from their footwear to the buttons on their jacket, is all very important to me,” she said.
Do you remember when Truth or Dare first premiered?
Oh yeah. It was in New York. That moment was everything–the flashing lights, the cameras, being there with Madonna. It was everything I wanted to be. It was how I always thought my life should be. It was great.
What was it like when you saw the documentary for the first time?
To be honest, I wish there was more of me in the film [laughs]. My ego at the time wouldn’t let me–you know–be alright with what was shown on the film, so my immediate reaction was, I wish I had more face time on the film.
Was there a moment in the tour that you wish had been included?
Oh my God yes, there was a part when we were in Spain, when she met Antonio Banderas. I did a drag show for them. That would’ve been fun to see [laughs]. I just dressed in drag–I didn’t dress up as a character, but I remember we were in London and they got my wig. It was called the Isadora Duncan Wig. They got it from Vidal Sassoon and the people at Vidal Sassoon cut the wig themselves. It was amazing. They did my hair, it was jet black and that’s when I felt like, ooh child, I’ve arrived. There was a photographer, we went up on this balcony and he took my picture—it was fantastic. I couldn’t believe it. There was a designer and went to her shop and picked out a dress and I was like, this is fabulous. Read more at thehissfit.com
You co-produced several songs on Madonna’s new one, including her new single. What do you make of the ageism she faces?
She created the world we live in. It already sucks to be a woman in the music industry, but to be a boss woman is even harder. She sold out her tour in minutes, but no one seems to want her to succeed — “Madonna, we’ve been there, done that, now we’re about Kim Kardashian.” Her song “Ghosttown” was a guaranteed Number One for anybody else, but she didn’t get a fair shot. With “Bitch I’m Madonna,” everyone said there’s no way it will go anywhere, but I’m like, “Screw it, it represents you more than anything.”
Queerty: When you were making the film you surely knew that it would become part of the national conversation at the time due to Madonna’s popularity, but did you you’d be discussing it 25 years later?
Alek Keshishian: I didn’t really. It never started out to be a feature film. It was just going to be an HBO special. After we went to Japan, when I realized it could be more, everyone around Madonna was telling her, “Don’t be crazy. Look at what happened with Rattle and Hum (an ill-fated documentary about U2)” and how it didn’t make money. She decided to go with my opinion, rather than the others. It was so bad at one point that our distributor New Line who, when they found out the film was in black and white, even though I’d told them 30 times, decided to drop the film. That’s how unknown a concept it was at the time. When the phenomenon happened, it took us all by surprise.
So you had no idea that the film would have such cultural impact?
No. This movie casts a very big shadow to get out of. Although now it’s interesting that I’ll see younger people and they’ll say, “I loved your movie.” I’ll ask if they mean Truth or Dare and they say, “No, With Honors [his 1994 comedy-drama].” Then there are a lot of young people who don’t even know what Truth or Dare was so that’s definitely receding.
You only had a few music videos on your resume in 1990. How did you earn Madonna’s trust for such a massive, personal project?
I don’t know. She just saw the opera I did in which I used some of her music and was surprised by her emotions and reaction to it. It was a very bad video. [Laughs] My parents had taped it. I was almost embarrassed to show it to her. She said to me, “If there’s anything I can do to help you with this, let me know.” Unbeknownst to me, she told her agents, “I want to see everything this kid does.” I didn’t realize that until long after the film was shot. I was staying with her in her apartment in New York and in her library there were individual VHS tapes of all my music videos. She hadn’t gotten a compilation, she’d gotten them one at a time right after they were made. She said, “You shoot dance better than anybody.”
So she called you up and offered you the job?
When she called me initially, it was still an HBO special. She said this show is going to be a real big spectacle and I want you to get some backstage stuff from Japan because it’s a really interesting place. Literally, four days later I was on a plane to Japan. It was so heavy.
Did you two develop an immediate rapport?
We did. That was the first time I’d ever flown first class and she put me next to her. I didn’t even know what was going on, but she started ribbing me pointedly. It was that friendly insult-teasing mode, which I love, but at first I didn’t know what to do because she was technically my boss. Then I thought, You know what? F*ck it. Five days ago I wasn’t working for her and I had a perfectly fine career. In fact, I was supposed to be directing the music video for a brand-new artist named Mariah Carey when Madonna stole me. So, anyway, I started playing back and by the time we landed in Japan she definitely felt like an old friend. It was a very quick soul connection. …continue reading »
Director Jonas Akerlund has worked with Madonna on some of her most iconic music videos, bringing “Ray of Light,” “American Life” and “Music” to life. After he shared behind-the-scenes stories from her most recent video, “Bitch I’m Madonna,” Akerlund gave EW the inside scoop on what it was like to put together the rest of their greatest collaborations.
“Ray of Light”
This was the first music video Madonna and Akerlund worked on together nearly 20 years ago, and he says at that time, he still didn’t know how to behave around artists of her stature. “I decided to be myself and talk about the job as I see it and hopefully we hit it off,” he says. “It was a different attitude and we started to shoot it in Sweden. We shot a few days before I met her and that idea was so spread out. Both of us felt we had something special. We just worked together and I thought that was it. I went back to Sweden with a VHS tape showing them, ‘That’s cool!’ and then we moved on.”
Madonna teamed up with then-unknown comic Sacha Baron Cohen for this glossy piece of eye-candy, which finds Madonna tooling around town in a limo with her girlfriends. “She was pregnant at the time,” Akerlund says. “She had a big fur on to cover her belly. We always had an idea to have an animated part and almost like cartoon-ish, with the colors. We wanted to have a comedian in there. I had met Sacha [Baron Cohen] in England right at the time, and he was just about to break out as Ali G. in the U.K. Nobody knew who he was in America.” Madonna, however, saw star power. “She instantly fell in love with him, like the rest of the world did. It took another year or two before the world knew who he was. Man, I wish we had those outtakes.”
The music video for “American Life” was due out around the same time the Iraq War broke out, and the track ended up sparking some controversy on American soil. “The timing was pretty amazing how we made that video,” he says. “I think the same week we were supposed to release the video the [Iraqi] War broke out. It was literally the same week. I was traveling between Europe and America at that time. I could really see the two different perspectives. In Sweden we were like, ‘This video has to be released, it’s very important.’ And in America, we thought we can’t release it. I connected with both perspectives. I could see how it was controversial, but for two completely different reasons. But [Madonna] did the right decision to not show it at the time. There was no discussion.”
Akerlund knew he wanted to use Madonna’s backup dancers, who were parkour experts, for this video. “I knew all about [parkour],” he says. “The reason why we did it was because she was touring and she had the best parkour kids on her tour. It was one of those videos we shot wen she was touring. We had to find time for it on her schedule and it ended up being in Tokyo. Visually, it’s awesome and I really wanted to use her parkour guys that she had on her tour. That itself is all I needed to get going. It was crazy shooting in Tokyo, but it worked really well with the music.”
Akerlund says that they actually ended up with two different videos for “Celebration.” One focused on her biggest fans, and both were shot on tour. “We shot that part with her and her dancers and Milan, and then we shot the parts with the fans in Barcelona,” he says. “The way we did it was kind of cool actually. We had a section outside the arena where she was shooting and we made a line to the people there, and the music was going in a loop. We were just shooting. Some people came as dedicated fans and some dressed up, and my AV was like ‘Next, next!’ We ended up with way more. The fan version has all the crazy fans.”
According to Akerlund, Madonna knew exactly what she wanted for the post-apocalyptic clip “Ghosttown,” which features actor Terrence Howard. “The good thing for me was that Madonna had a clear idea what the song was about,” Akerlund says.” The whole end of the world theme was perfect. Visually, we could make something out of it. We shot it over two nights. Also a night shoot actually. We were on location in Los Angeles. And we took all the people out to shoot in the desert in a closed down factory. It’s a big deal to do that. There was a lot of production design to it. That location was dirty. Dirty for real! But Madonna was going all the way.”
Cyndi Lauper, the American singer, has revealed she has signed autographs as Madonna when fans have mistaken her for her pop rival.
The Girls Just Want To Have Fun singer makes the disclosure when she appears on Friday night’s Graham Norton Show.
Lauper, who has a very distinctive, high-pitched New York accent, said: “It happens to me once in a while. I just sign Madonna. I don’t care and as long as I don’t talk I get away with it.”
The Time After Time singer and Madonna were pitted against each other as pop rivals during the 1980s.
Q: You worked with Madonna on her acclaimed Ray Of Light album. What was it like working with her?
Rick Nowels: I always wanted to work with Madonna. I loved her voice, her songwriting, and the great records she made with Pat Leonard, Stephen Bray and Nile Rodgers. In 1997 I was in New York for the Grammys. I was up for Album of the Year (as one of the producers) for Celine Dion’s Falling Into You. I was in Barney’s (store) getting a tie for the Grammys and I saw Madonna there. I introduced myself, and I told her that she didn’t get the credit she deserved as a songwriter. Which is true, but it’s also an awkward thing to tell a huge superstar! She was very cool and gracious. I ended up getting a meeting with her in L.A. a few weeks later.
We wrote nine songs together—three made the Ray of Light album: “The Power of Goodbye”, “Little Star” and “To Have and Not To Hold”. “The Power of Goodbye” was a number one song in U.K. and Europe. It was a career-changing experience for me. Before that I had always done my co-writing with friends. But working with Madonna…it was the first time I had ever written one-on-one with a great artist/writer. After that I changed gears a little, and now I mostly collaborate directly with artists.
Her name is Madonna Ciccone, and her face matches her name.
Round eyes, arched eyebrows, finely drawn mouth – Da Vinci would have loved it. It is a theatrical face, a dancer’s face. And she has a dancer’s body – thin as a blade, lithe and agile. Doll-like, she looks as if she’d snap in a strong wind.
She wouldn’t. …
Countless times over the years, critics, pundits and reporters have written some variation on that to describe Madonna, the iconic pop starlet. But the story containing this passage is different, because it dates back to a time when nobody knew who Madonna was.
It’s the beginning of a Charlotte Observer story from July 1978, about the American Dance Festival’s first year at Duke University in Durham. And it might be the first notice from the press that Madonna received.
Observer staff writer Richard Maschal quoted Madonna, then 19 years old, describing the rigors of ADF as “pretty draining and demanding.” And he called her “what the American Dance Festival is about.”
Seven years later, after 1984’s “Like a Virgin” and 1985’s “Desperately Seeking Susan” established Madonna as a huge star and the it-girl of that moment, Maschal wrote a followup column about his earlier impressions of her. He noted her beauty, aura and precocious self-assurance – and also that she resembled a literal Renaissance madonna.
“I really did think she looked like a madonna and so was amazed when I asked her name and she gave it,” Maschal said recently via email. “I also found her one of the most self-absorbed persons I had ever met.”
That self-absorption also manifested as confidence, which would stand Madonna in good stead as she pursued her career. One of her 1978 ADF classmates was Eric Tyrone Smith, who later shared a West Village apartment with Madonna in New York City. In a 2007 email, he recounted a salient memory of Madonna’s evolution from dancer to singer:
She came back to the apartment one day bragging that she had just been out in Washington Sq. park singing with some black guys and that they had told her she could sing. I told her she couldn’t believe everything she was told and of course the rest is history!
Little else remains of Madonna’s long-ago time as a dance student in Durham. Her primary teachers there, Pearl Lang and Pauline Koner, are both deceased. And while ADF still has her application and school records on file, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) means they will remain private unless Madonna herself chooses to release them.
That’s doubtful, so mostly we have Maschal’s witness-bearing account. He admits he did not come away impressed, with little inkling of just how big a star she would become. Maschal’s 1985 story about Madonna concluded by asking about the 26-year-old singer, “Can you picture Madonna at 40?”
Now 56, in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and still topping charts and touring arenas, Madonna seems to have done all right for herself.
Rumours began last year that the British dance duo were working with the pop star after Madonna posted a picture of herself with the pair backstage at the Governors Ball festival in New York during June 2014. While Disclosure denied that they were producing Madonna’s next album (‘Rebel Heart’, which was released in March), they didn’t at the time rule out a potential collaboration with the singer in the future.
Now, speaking to NME in this week’s issue, the electronic duo explained that they “did discuss maybe working together” but “[we] never really got our hopes up”.
“We never really had any indication that we were going to be working together,” Howard Lawrence said. “We met her and hung out and she’s a lovely person and she’s a fan – and I mean, who’s not a fan of Madonna? We did discuss maybe working together one day but we never tried to put dates in or anything like that. But I wouldn’t say we were disappointed because we never really got our hopes up.”
Madonna claims the No. 28 spot on our list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, which appeared in the June 15th, 2015 issue of Forbes magazine. She’s the wealthiest musician on the list.
Madonna Louise Ciccone
Estimated Net Worth:
Music, Clothing, Real Estate
One of the top pop divas of all time. Her tours have grossed an estimated $1.2 billion over the years, including $305 million from her 2012 MDNA tour. That helped her earn an estimated $125 million during the ensuing 12-month period during which FORBES calculated celebrity earnings, more than any other musician. Look for another bump when she goes on the road with her latest album, Rebel Heart, in August. …continue reading »