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31. Though Madonna would collaborate with William Orbit on three tracks on her follow-up to Ray of Light, the album otherwise represented a seismic shift from its predecessor’s warm-and-gooey spirituality (a Book of Revelation to many fans, anathema to others). Mirwais’s defiantly experimental, Eurotrashy, wholly artificial production—awash in Auto-Tune and Nintendo beats—was bound to disappoint some, but no one does ersatz like Madonna, and fittingly, this is also one of her most soul-bearing works, from the feminist “What It Feels Like for a Girl,” to the Toni Morrison-alluding “Paradise (Not for Me), to “Nobody’s Perfect,” a slow burn that’s never less than affecting.
38. Confessions on a Dance Floor could’ve just as easily been called Ghost of Madonnas Past: at once a thumping tribute to the restorative power of dance music (this was the workout album of the decade if there was one) and a treatise on the singer’s own fame (“I spent my whole life wanting to be talked about”), in which all her musical tics headily come to fore (singing in foreign languages? Check. Faux-tribalistic hymn? Check.). References to the past are everywhere, from the ABBA sample of “Hung Up” to her silly love letter to the city where she got her start, “I Love New York,” but Madonna has always been a thoroughly postmodern pop artist, and as such, songs like “Hung Up,” Sorry,” and “Forbidden Love” aren’t so much throwbacks as updates of the disco sound to which she’s indebted.
JL: When I got to Saturday Night Live, the first host was Madonna. Normally the host was there for a week, but she was there for two. The first thing I shot was a short film in Central Park. I think George Meyer wrote it, who later wrote on The Simpsons. Madonna’s driving a car—she’s supposed to be on this country road, but we shot it in Central Park—and she keeps hearing this banging, so she pulls over and opens her hood and I jump out like a mugger and attack her. So we’re shooting that—it was like 2 a.m.—and there’s Penny Marshall hanging out. She’s friends with Lorne. She befriended me. And then, my first Saturday Night Live show, to all the cast she goes, “Here’s your Saturday Night Live kit.” Mine was a Knight Rider lunch pail. I still have it. And inside was Tylenol and Maalox and aspirin. I didn’t get it. Then after the first show, I go, “Now I get it.” It was a very stressful show to do.
A League Of Their Own
JL: Tom Hanks and I had become really good friends from Saturday Night Live, and then Geena Davis and Madonna, they both hosted Saturday Night Live. You get to know them pretty well when they do, even though it’s just a week. And then I met Lori Petty, and she was nice. I met Rosie O’Donnell for the first time. Rosie was like a kid: “It’s my first movie! I met Madonna! I can’t believe it!”
AVC: I don’t know if you’ve heard about the letter from Madonna that was recently unearthed where she was complaining about working on A League Of Their Own, saying, “I cannot suffer any more than I have in the past month learning to play baseball with a bunch of girls (yuk) in Chicago (double yuk)” and “I hate actresses.”
JL: I was only on the movie for four weeks. I’d been to her house, because I was friends with Sean Penn, so to me she was just another performer. I never put her on a pedestal. I like her a lot. I saw her about five years ago, and I told her, “I feel like my career started with you, and I have a fond place for you in my heart.” And mine did start with her. The first thing I ever did was with her. And she goes, “I know, I feel the same way about you.” But it was a tough shoot. After I left, it was very hot. It was 108. People were fainting on the set. But I remember when I was there, she was having a good time at baseball practice. I went just for fun, because I liked to play baseball and catch, but she would show up and she’d have already run eight miles. And then they’d do the practice and she’d stay after another hour and hit. Her work ethic is fantastic. I’d like to read that letter.
I’ll tell you something about that movie that the girls told me. It was like 40 women. They go, “Jon, when you get a group of women together, their menstrual cycles all get in sync, so they’re all getting their periods at the same time.” This is the women telling me this! So it’s 40 women, all getting their period at the same time. So that’s part of what happened. Plus, it was so hot.
Kirsten Dunst doesn’t mind the New York paparazzi — and she understands that dressing up draws more attention from them. “I just don’t want to look bad in those pictures,” she told Black Book magazine. “Paparazzi don’t have as much interest in you when you’re not wearing big sunglasses and carrying a $5,000 bag. I have no interest in wearing a tracksuit every day like Madonna does, but I understand why she does it.” Durst, whose film “All Good Things” opened this month, lives in an apartment near the Nur Khan/Paul Sevigny-helmed SoHo bar Don Hill’s.
Madonna wasn’t able to visit Malawi this Christmas, but she let the children in the six orphanages she funds there know they were very much on her mind this holiday season.
Boxes of toys, chocolate, other sweets and clothes were shipped with a handwritten note from the star, which read, “To my Malawi children on Christmas and Boxing Day. I wish I was with you. See you soon M.”
Inside the goodie boxes were miniature Christmas cards signed by Madonna, Lourdes and Rocco.
“How so sweet this woman is!” said Lucy Chipeta, director of Home of Hope Orphanage in Mchinji, where Madonna adopted son David in 2006, as more than 500 children scrambled for toys and bars of chocolate.
Near another orphanage, Consol Homes, more than 1,000 people from surrounding villages were invited to an open-air party. All the orphans and under-privileged children who registered with the center received clothes.
“Madonna says she always enjoys the traditional dances the villagers perform for her when she visits,” said Yacinta Chapomba, director of Consol Homes. “She asked us to invite as many villagers as possible for the Christmas party.”
The singer planned to return to Malawi in November alongside U2 singer Bono, but the trip, according to sources, was rescheduled for the spring.
Merry Christmas Madonna fans all around the world.