As the top grossing touring female artist in the history of Billboard, Madonna sure knows how to draw a crowd. Her record-breaking Rebel Heart Tour showed the Material Girl at the top of her game, taking her on a whirlwind tour of 55 cities across four continents over the course of seven months.
Luckily all of Madonna’s signature visual theatrics, extravagant costumes and awe-inspiring choreography were captured on film for the concert documentary, Madonna: Rebel Heart Tour, which initially aired on Showtime and now will be available on DVD for the first time on 15 September.
Co-directed by Danny B. Tull and Nathan Rissman, the film was recorded around the world and features both live and behind-the-scenes material, as well as previously unreleased footage culminating with performances at the Sydney Qudos Bank Arena in Australia in March of 2016.
The Queen Of Pop has also announced a new live album featuring 22 songs from the Rebel Heart Tour, available on double-CD and digital download, as well as the concert film via DVD and Blu-ray with bonus content.
The tracklist for the film and live concert album spans all decades of her illustrious career, including songs from her chart-topping Rebel Heart album to new interpretations of her classic fan favourites and timeless hits. The tour itself grossed $169.8m with 1,045,479 in attendance and reaffirmed Madonna’s pop culture dominance. Popcrush described the spectacle of the Rebel Heart Tour thusly:
“The concert is a massive all-out explosion of song, dance and depravity with vague social commentary, proving for the umpteenth time that Madonna is, was and truly always will be the Queen.”
Madonna has made a career pushing boundaries and testing the limits of what artists can and cannot do. For the Rebel Heart Tour she pulled out all the stops, whether it’s playing a Flying V for ‘Burning Up’, singing Edith Piaf’s ballad ‘La Vie En Rose’ in French or doing intricate choreography in full samurai gear, the unstoppable renaissance woman shows us all of the “blood, sweat and tears” that goes into just being Madonna.
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Madonna is on the cover of the first issue
Michael De Luca, who produced Fifty Shades of Grey for Universal, is attached to produce along with Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment. John Zaozirny of Bellvue Productions will also produce.
The story is set in early 1980s New York as Madonna Louise Ciccone works on her first album, struggling in a business that treats women badly, while also dealing with a burgeoning love life and the first hints of fame.
Madonna moved to New York from Michigan in 1978 to pursue dance but segued to singing and writing songs. After failing at a rock band, she switched to dance and pop. After achieving some success with a few dance singles, she began work on her debut album, Madonna, which was released in 1983. The album yielded hits “Holiday,” “Borderline” and “Lucky Star” and set the stage for her groundbreaking Like a Virgin album.
Ambition is the debut script for Hollander, who worked as an assistant to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, while he made Birdman, and Fresh Off the Boat co-executive producer Kourtney Kang. She is repped by WME, Bellevue, Ryan Pastorek and Robby Koch of Hansen Jacobson.
De Luca is coming off of producing this year’s Academy Awards and will produce next year’s as well. Ratner’s RatPac recently announced a partnership with Len Blavatnik’s Access Entertainment.
Executive vp of production Erik Baiers and director of development Chloe Yellin will oversee production for Universal. Lucy Kitada will help oversee for De Luca Productions.
Geena Davis was not aware she was making screen history as baseball standout Dottie Hinson in 1992’s A League of Their Own with co-stars Tom Hanks, Madonna, Lori Petty and Rosie O’Donnell.
When Hanks, as the gruff manager of the fictional team from the first professional all-women baseball league, called out to one of his despondent players, “There’s no crying in baseball,” it didn’t strike Davis as an immortal moment.
“We knew it was hella funny,” Davis, now 61, recalls. “But I didn’t know that was going to be a classic. That line is a signature, right up there with ‘Hasta la vista, baby.’”
League has earned its place as one of America’s best sports comedies, selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2012.
As the film celebrates its 25th anniversary on July 1 (with a new special edition Blu-ray out now), Davis recounts her memories from the League set.
Her audition was simple: Director Penny Marshall insisted League actors truly play ball. Davis’ audition consisted of demonstrating her baseball prowess in Marshall’s backyard.
“(Marshall) wanted to make sure I could throw a ball, so that happened,” says Davis. “I threw the ball to her, competently got it to her, she caught it and said, ‘Okay.’ That was the whole audition.”
Without an athletic upbringing, Davis trained intensively to flesh out her game and ultimately impressed the real baseball coaches onset.
“When the coaches would say, ‘You have real untapped athletic ability’ it was like, ‘Oh my God, I am coordinated.’ It just took me (until I was) 36 to find that out.” (She would go on to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials in archery in 1999, two years after taking up the sport.)
Davis excelled at batting and that stare. “I wanted people to say ‘Uh-oh’ when I came to bat.”
Pitches were hard, balls were soft: Special precautions were required for close-up batting shots. Sponge-filled balls were used — not for the batters, but the crew.
“You’re actually hitting in the direction of the camera crew,” says Davis. “For close-ups, those balls were squishy. They looked like real baseballs, but they were all spongy inside so we wouldn’t clock anyone.”
Davis did the on-camera split: As catcher, Hinson pulls an acrobatic split when catching a foul ball, which Davis performed.
“Penny asked if I could do a split. I said to put it later in the shooting schedule to give me time to work up to it. It’s hard to learn that quickly. But I did,” says Davis.
She soaked in a hot tub to loosen up before the scene and nailed the split.
“The thing I did not do was get up from it. My character does a Chuck Berry split and then hops right back up,” says Davis. “There was no popping up happening. I was stuck there and had to be helped up.”
Madonna was a question mark: Davis admits she wasn’t sure what it would be like to work with Madonna, then in her prime.
“She was Madonna. We wondered if we were going to be able to talk to her. Was she going to have an entourage? Were they going to put up walls around her where she stands?” Davis recalls.
Ultimately, Madonna was a team player who trained hard and insisted on sliding head-first into bases. “That was painful. But she was so game. She was a trooper,’ says Davis.
Source : UsaToday
In the picture, a young Mazar peers at the camera as Haring, more clearly in focus, looks on behind her.
Mazar shared the photo on her own account immediately. “I was like, ‘Aw, Keith,’ ” she told Vanity Fair on a phone call Friday. “I think of Keith all the time, because his work is so present, and being much a part of what is so present and current in today’s climate—in terms of equality, immigration, sexuality, so many things.”
As she looks more at the photo, though, Mazar said she also thinks of the weekend in 1985 that it was taken, which happened to be the weekend of her friend Madonna’s wedding to Sean Penn in Los Angeles. Those few days marked Mazar’s first-ever trip to L.A.—and a memorable one, at that.
“We kind of had a whole weekend planned, where the wedding was one day, and another day we went to restaurants and different activities, she said. “That particular day, we went to Mr. Chow’s,” she said, recalling the site of the photo with Haring.
That stop at Mr. Chow’s was only one highlight of the weekend. The wedding itself was Mazar’s first experience with a high-profile event of that magnitude. As she and her friend Lance Loud tore down the Pacific Coast Highway on their way to the ceremony, Mazar said she marveled at the beauty before her. It wasn’t long, though, before she noticed the buzzing of helicopters overhead, making a beeline toward Madonna and Penn’s wedding: “I thought the helicopters were chasing us, even though they weren’t,” Mazar recalled, chuckling.
When she and Loud arrived at the wedding, Mazar quickly learned that she had not been given a plus-one. Mazar had to leave her friend to enter the nuptials—which boasted a guest list that included Cher—alone. Her entrance to the ceremony was less than graceful:
“My poor friend dropped me off in Malibu, at Johnny Carson’s house, and I teetered on down the driveway—alone—and I got to the wedding, and my heel got caught into, like, the wood deck, and I basically tripped into the wedding,” she said.
After the wedding, at which Mazar said she could hardly hear a thing with the helicopters roaring overhead, she got into a limousine with a host of her artist friends: Haring, Martin Burgoyne, Andy Warhol, and Steve Rubell. Then, to top off the eventful day, Rubell vomited all over Mazar’s brand new pair of Manolo Blahniks. Mazar, who was making her money as a makeup artist at the time, said they were the first pair of shoes she had ever bought with her own money—which was scarce.
“I basically probably had my electricity turned off just to buy these shoes, and Rubell vomited on them,” she said.
The memory of that weekend was one of many in Mazar’s friendship with Haring, who died of AIDs at the age of 31 in February of 1990. She told Vanity Fair that she’d known Haring even before she met Madonna, the two having come up together in New York City.
28 years ago this week, Madonna released what is not only her best album to date, but also what could be the most important release ever by a female artist. That’s not to say that Like a Prayer is the best album ever by a female artist, but it’s pretty close. After six years of being considered pop fluff and a disco dolly, Madonna was finally taken seriously by most music critics in 1989. Still, Like a Prayer deserved even more than bewildering critical acclaim.
If Madonna and misogyny weren’t practically synonyms, Like a Prayer would have not only won several Grammys in 1990 (it didn’t even earn any major nominations), but it would be widely praised for its songwriting and production 28 years later. If a man delivered the same type of vocals Madonna did on Like a Prayer, critics would note that his voice isn’t technically perfect, but distinct, melodic, and full of emotion. When it comes to Madonna, who certainly could never hit the notes of Aretha Franklin or Whitney Houston, it’s just easier for people to say that she “can’t sing.”
For people (especially millennials) to understand how important Like a Prayer is to culture and music, they have to comprehend the repressive environment Madonna’s album arrived to in March of 1989. The late 1980s was ruled by the religious right, who believed AIDS was a curse God gave to the gay community. Women who were outspoken or wore revealing clothes were referred to as sluts, whores, bit**es, etc. Police brutality among African Americans was still widely accepted without much of a backlash. And interracial dating was still considered a taboo.
With all of this in mind, let’s analyze why Like a Prayer is such a milestone of an album.
The “Like a Prayer” Video
The “Like a Prayer” video has provocative imagery that caused the religious right to wet its pants. However, none of the imagery, which is used for pure symbolism, is blasphemous. Most importantly, “Like a Prayer” is a video that shows the viewer racism, sexism, and police brutality. It urges them to think and overcome it — this is something that wasn’t considered “cool” in 1989. The idea of a “Black Jesus” was also considered blasphemous to some, especially the religious right.
The aftermath of “Like a Prayer” was groundbreaking in that Madonna beat the religious right at their own attempted game of censorship. Their efforts caused Pepsi to drop Madonna as a spokesperson, but they completely failed at hurting Madonna’s success or censoring the video. The “Like a Prayer” single and video hit No. 1 and remain widely loved classics almost 30 years later. Madonna paved the way for other artists to not only challenge the religious right, but win.
The “Like a Prayer” Song
Even if you aren’t convinced that the “Like a Prayer” video is an artistic masterpiece, the song “Like a Prayer” has stood on its own. Not only has Rolling Stone and Billboard praised it as one of the best pop songs of all time, but the song has become a spiritual classic, even for those who aren’t fans of Madonna.
“Like a Prayer” became the highlight of Live 8 in 2005, and it was also one of the highlights of the 2010 Hope for Haiti concert. It was also prominently featured in Madonna’s 2012 Super Bowl Halftime show. Any live performance of the song is sure to whip the audience into a frenzy.
This decade, “Express Yourself” is mostly known as the song that inspired (maybe a little too much) Lady Gaga’s self-empowerment LGBT anthem “Born This Way.” However, as Gay Times Magazine notes, “Express Yourself” has become an empowering anthem for the LGBT community as well. However, in the late 1980s, the song was mostly known as a female empowerment anthem. “Don’t go for second best baby” became a catch phrase for strong women who were sick of being treated like second class citizens from men and other women who still subscribed to the patriarchy. (more…)
Is Like A Prayer the greatest pop record of all time? As Madonna’s masterpiece turns 28, here are 10 reasons why Barry Bryson thinks so.
1. The opening title track is quite simply the greatest five minutes and 39 seconds of pop ever. It sounded like a game changer then and it still does now. The video, the Pepsi commercial, the incredible Blond Ambition live performance all add to its legacy but really all you have to do it put it on, close your eyes and let her take you there.
2. Often referred to by Madonna and her co-producer Pat Leonard at the time as the “divorce album” following the end of her marriage to Sean Penn, lyrically on Like a Prayer she delves deep. Till Death Us do Part combines heartbroken acceptance with steely resolve and in the process she created one of her finest songs.
3. This album is essentially what all her live tours came to represent, a journey from darkness into light. It is unflinching and often uncomfortable but punctuated with joy (Cherish) and fantasy (Dear Jessie) as well as empowerment and guts (Express Yourself).
4. It’s an album to listen to in its entirety, you can stream tracks from it yes, but I think you need a full 47 minutes for this. It deserves it.
5. There are no super producers at play on Like a Prayer (Price aside, more of which later) just Madonna, Pat Leonard and Stephen Bray creating something that by today’s standard seems incredibly simple. Vocally most of what is heard on Like a Prayer is first take. It makes it feel spontaneous and emotional and not overly though through meaning it’s her first “real” Madonna record.
6. Issued at the time with every copy of this album was a leaflet called The Facts About Aids, intended to educate but also to de-stigmatise the myths that so much of the 80s were awash with. It seems like nothing now but at the time it was hugely political and potentially damaging to its commercial success.
7. I am married to a man who seriously hates the smell of patchouli but not me. Every sleeve of the vinyl album was scented and 28 years later my original vinyl still carries it thus taking me there once again.
8. Watching Madonna pay tribute to Prince early last year I was struck by what contemporaries they were, far more alike each other than they were the other pop behemoth Michael Jackson. Apparently Madonna and Prince dated, feuded, made-up and fell out again but much more than that is the fact they both fiercely embodied a musical independence and a sexual liberalism and on Like a Prayer you get the greatest non-song ever in the form of their duet Love Song.
A sparse production heavy duel that culminates in Prince pushing Madonna to go vocally hoarse at the end and then it fades off as you imagine them both tired yet happy. In 2015 shortly before his untimely death Madonna sat front row at a small private gig Prince performed. Friends and rivals make the best music.
9. The real pull of Like a Prayer is ultimately its emotional punch. A song like Promise To Try where an adult Madonna talks to the five-year-old bereft Madonna in the aftermath of the death of her mother feels like one of the most honest grief sentiments ever committed to song, but it finishes looking ahead with strength and from the darkness emerges the light. This track alongside Oh Father define this album as something way beyond losing yourself on the dance floor although it is a Madonna record so she’s never one to keep you away from that for too long.
10. Try listening to Keep It Together without grabbing a chair and saying “Hi Hi Hi, Hello love” the Blond Ambition finale was THE moment you knew that Madonna had not only owned the 80’s but was likely to hang on the following decades too and it was right here all along. On record a funky ode to loyalty and love transformed live into the something most female pop stars would spend a career trying to emulate. It hasn’t happened yet.
By early 1989, the world had come to know Madonna as a dance-pop provocateur with quirky-sexy style. She was the biggest female celebrity on the planet, and yet for all her fame, few realized just how much pain and self-doubt this soon-to-be-divorced 30-year-old lapsed Catholic from Detroit was carting around. With “Like a Prayer,” that would all change.
Recorded amid the dissolution of her marriage to actor Sean Penn, “Like a Prayer” was Madonna’s most introspective and eclectic album to date. Unlike the three that came before, it blended classic psychedelic rock with then-current synth-pop sounds. And now, a quarter-century after its March 21, 1989 release, it doesn’t sound a bit dated. Lyrically, it’s about growing up, moving on from bad romance, and getting right with God and family. At least two of the songs center on the death of Madonna’s mother, a childhood trauma that had a strong part in making the singer who she is.
Before “Like a Prayer” was even released, Madonna made it clear this wouldn’t be just another album. Three weeks before the release, she debuted the video for the title track, the first of five top 20 Hot 100 singles spawned from the album. Featuring depictions of murder, interracial love, and cross burnings, the clip juxtaposed notions of religious and sexual ecstasy, leaving some folks puzzled and just about everyone talking. Catholics denounced her; Pepsi dropped ads featuring her (and ended plans to sponsor her tour). Fans, of course, ate it up.
Controversy aside, “Like a Prayer” is among Madonna’s finest moments, and over the next 10 tracks, its namesake album never lets up. It’s funky, poignant, and even a little kooky. And while Madonna is the quintessential singles artist, this chart-topping LP stands as one of her most fully realized collection of songs. Read on for our classic track-by-track review.
“Like a Prayer”
What a way to start an album. First, distorted guitars and a heavy thud. From there, a pop-gospel workout that’s as enigmatic as it is invigorating. It’s “Thriller” meets Catholic mysticism, and “Like A Prayer” works just as well without its vivid video. No wonder it shot to No. 1 on the Hot 100 a month after its release.
The party moves from the church to Madonna’s posh high-rise, where she looks at her jewels and satin sheets and decides she’d rather have a man who’s in touch with his feelings. It’s her brassy, funky version of “Can’t Buy Me Love,” and it climbed all the way to No. 2 on the Hot 100.
This collab between Madonna and Prince is the ‘80s-pop equivalent of Wonder Woman teaming up with Batman. Given the star power, the track feels a touch slight, and as Prince’s signature scratchy disco guitar breaks through Madonna’s synths, the divergent musical sensibilities make like the lovers in the lyrics—they don’t quite connect.
“Till Death Do Us Part”
As her tumultuous marriage to actor Sean Penn comes to an end, Madonna reflects on the well-publicized fights—“He starts to scream / the vases fly”—and emotional distance that doomed the couple. The skittering guitar or keyboard part creates a frazzled feel that contrasts nicely with Madonna’s assured vocals. (more…)