Today in Madonna History: November 28, 1993

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On November 28 1993, Madonna’s Bye Bye Baby single was released in Japan to coincide with the Japanese leg of her Girlie Show world tour.

The 3″ CD snap pack included 2 tracks:

  • Bye Bye Baby
  • Rain (Radio Remix)

bye-bye-baby-japan-end

Today in Madonna History: November 20, 1993

On November 20 1993, Madonna – Live Down Under: The Girlie Show (taped November 19th at Sydney Cricket Ground) was broadcast on HBO-TV. In Australia, Madonna postponed a scheduled concert at the Sydney Cricket Ground due to severe rain.

Recording of the November 19th show had been intended to serve as both a practice run for the following night, and as a safety show in the event of technical difficulties or cancellation of the November 20th concert. With Madonna apparently satisfied with the safety footage captured on the 19th, neither the December 3rd show at the Cricket Ground nor the rescheduled date (December 4th) served to provide supplemental footage for the eventual VHS/laserdisc release. The only notable differences between the HBO broadcast and the released version were some alternate camera angles and additional audio mixing.

Today in Madonna History: November 19, 1993

dangerous game poster 550 dangerous game set 7 550

On November 19 1993, the movie Dangerous Game premiered in New York City. Madonna shared top-billing with co-stars Harvey Keitel & James Russo in director Abel Ferrara’s gritty and experimental film about film-making. It was one of the first productions by Maverick Pictures, the film arm of Madonna’s multimedia company that was born in partnership with Warner Bros. the previous year. In some countries, the film was released under its original title, Snake Eyes, which could not be used in the U.S. due to a previous trademark on the name.

Given Maverick’s production involvement, it is perhaps unsurprising that the film’s credits include some names that should be familiar to many Madonna fans:

  • Madonna’s longtime manager and founding partner in Maverick, Freddy DeMann, as executive producer
  • Madonna’s assistant at the time, Missy Coggiola
  • her frequent costume designer, Marlene Stewart
  • her stylist, Hiram Ortiz–who not only styled her for the film but also appears as her stylist onscreen
  • Madonna’s then-future manager, now the late Caresse Henry–at the time an assistant to DeMann
  • songs by Maverick-signed music groups Proper Grounds & UNV
  • Madonna’s eldest brother, Anthony Ciccone, as locations production assistant

Unhappy with Ferrara’s final cut of the film–which was reported to have been drastically altered from the movie that had been pitched to the actors–Madonna did not attend the premiere and, in Ferrara’s view, killed the movie’s shot at achieving wider distribution after badmouthing it in the press. Ironically, Ferrara noted, the reviews of Madonna’s strong performance in the film (which was certainly more natural, raw & vulnerable than any of her previous big-screen appearances) are among the best she had received as an actress at the time.

Dangerous Game was re-released on Blu-ray in North America on November 17, 2015 by Olive Films. It includes both the theatrical and the “unrated” versions of the movie.

(Note: the clips used in the short preview above are from a low-resolution, compressed rip from DVD and do not represent the superior quality of the new high definition Blu-ray edition of the film.)

Today in Madonna History: November 6, 1993

On November 6 1993, Madonna performed The Girlie Show to a sold-out crowd of 120,000 fans at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Girlie Show Rio show ranks as one of the highest-attended single-artist’s ticketed concerts (excluding festivals) of all-time.

Today in Madonna History: September 18, 1993

On September 18 1993, Madonna’s Rain peaked at #2 on the Canadian Top 100 Singles Chart, matching Deeper & Deeper as the highest charting single in Canada from the Erotica album.

Today in Madonna History: September 14, 1993

On September 14 1993, the official tour flyer for The Girlie Show World Tour was published in newspapers across the province of Quebec, advertising the upcoming Madonna concert to be held at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal on October 23. Ticket prices ranged from $29.50 to $39.50 with a very limited number of tickets for $49.50. In total, 52,000 tickets were made available for the show and the concert sold-out!

We want to thank Dominick Noel for sending us this scan of the flyer — THANK YOU! 

Today in Madonna History: August 21, 1993

On August 21 1993, Billboard magazine interviewed director Mark Romanek for a feature article about Madonna’s music video for Rain:

One rarely finds the use for such adjectives as “Zen-like,” spare, and sentimental in describing an outrageous, outspoken, and extreme performer like Madonna. Yet the artist’s new Maverick -Sire-Warner Bros. video “Rain,” directed by Mark Romanek for Satellite Films, conjures those very images against the understated elegance of a tenderly soothing ballad. The result is a Madonna who is chic yet vulnerable, glamorous yet sweet.

“The contradiction you face in shooting a Madonna video is that people expect something rather grand from her, and yet the feeling of the times is that things need to be simplified and stripped away,” says Romanek. The director admits he was a bit intimidated by the prospect of shooting a video that would mark a departure from Madonna’s ostentatious antics of the past. “The song is a bit sentimental, and you just can’t do something psychosexual and subversive with it,” he notes. “My challenge was to come up with something that seems glamorous and expensive, yet is spare and Zen-like at the same time.” Romanek chose to interpret “Rain” as an exercise in media manipulation and image-making. The clip is reeled as a video-within-a-video, as Madonna, the doe-eyed ingenue, performs for a Japanese film crew.

Music buffs may recognize the “director” in the clip as the photogenic composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. “By making it a Japanese thing, we made Madonna more vulnerable; she’s away from home, more out-of-place,” says Romanek. “It creates a nice subtext and makes her more sympathetic.” And by shooting a “crew” shooting a clip, Romanek created the kind of prefab, artificial scenario that would underscore the true emotion of “Rain.”

“We knew we needed some rain, but we didn’t want the clip to be too clichéd or too literal,” he notes. “So we figured if we have to have rain, let’s have fake rain.” That fake rain was contained in two tall “walls” that stand on either side of a simply clad Madonna. One shot looks deceptively plain, but as Romanek explains, “the amount of equipment, pipes, and lights that are hidden in that image, so that the walls appear to stand as simply as possible and look aesthetically correct, was huge.”

To further capture the crystalline essence of the song, Romanek and cinematographer Harris Savides chose to lens a number of rare, color closeups of Madonna’s face and features. But they were faced with the technical challenge of updating the traditional “Garbo lighting” used since film’s earliest days to flatter a star’s most arresting features. Madonna agreed to undergo a half day of camera tests, after which a new German lighting fixture was chosen to achieve a thoroughly modern, yet classic, effect. Icy blue eyes stare directly into the camera as full, lush lips sing the lyrics into an old-fashioned microphone. Of all the sequences in the “Rain” video, Romanek says he is proudest of these close-ups. It’s one of the hardest things to make something as simple as that possible,” the director says. “You need that kind of icon, like Madonna, to make a shot like that work.”

The Satellite crew spent four days making sure such aesthetically correct shots would work, including a windswept storm sequence on a stage, and an overhead shot of Madonna surrounded by a bed of open, black umbrellas. In nearly every shot, the graphic image is so compelling that the camera need never move.

Romanek, a founding director of Satellite, shares credit for “Rain” with producer Krista Montagna, stylist David Bradshaw, and editors John Murray and Jim Haygood. The clip’s cinematographer Savides and art director Jan Peter Flack have been nominated for an MTV Video Music Award.

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