On April 3 2008, it was announced that Madonna would join Sharon Stone and Harvey Weinstein at the annual Amfar Fundraising Gala in Cannes on May 22:
Madonna, Sharon Stone, Harvey Weinstein, Michelle Yeoh, Michel Litvak, Carine Roitfeld, Caroline Gruosi – Scheufele, and amfAR Chairman of the Board Kenneth Cole will serve as chairs of amfAR’s Cinema Against AIDS, to be held on May 22 during the 61st annual Cannes International Film Festival. The evening will be presented by Bold Films, Chopard, and the Weinstein Company. The annual star – studded event, which will benefit amfAR, will take place at Le Moulin de Mougins and will feature a formal dinner, along with amfAR’s world – renowned live auction and a special performance by Seal.
In addition, this year’s event will feature a short clip of I Am Because We Are, the Madonna – produced and – narrated documentary about children orphaned by AIDS in Malawi. The full screening of I Am Because We Are is scheduled to take place the evening before, May 21, in Cannes and will be associated with amfAR’s Cinema Against AIDS event. Madonna’s long history with amfAR began in 1992, when she received the Foundation’s Award of Courage.
Harvey Weinstein and Sharon Stone, tireless advocates for AIDS research and amfAR, will conduct the highly anticipated live auction with the assistance of several of the event chairs and other celebrities who will be present. In Past years, the auction has seen legendary impromptu performances by Sir Elton John, Robin Williams, Natalie Cole, Liza Minnelli, Sheryl Crow, Ringo Starr, Macy Gray, Milla Jovovich, and Lionel Ritchie. Last year’s live auction raised million, bringing the evening’s fundraising total to million. amfAR’s annual Cinema Against AIDS gala has been an important and successful fundraising event for the Foundation since 1993, generating more than million for essential AIDS research. Past events have been hosted by Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Sharon Stone, Demi Moore, and Sir Elton John.
On October 27 1990, Madonna’s first dance teacher and mentor from Michigan, Christopher Flynn, passed away from an AIDS-related illness. With the news of his death, Madonna issued the statement: “Christopher Flynn was my mentor, is my higher power, and will remain an eternal inspiration.”
Indeed, Flynn would later serve as the inspiration for one of the characters from Madonna’s directorial debut, Filth And Wisdom, as she explained to Gus Van Sant in the October 2010 issue of Interview magazine:
The character that Richard E. Grant plays in the film I directed, Filth and Wisdom, is this blind professor who was based on my ballet teacher, Christopher Flynn. Growing up in Michigan, I didn’t really know what a gay man was. He was the first man-the first human being-who made me feel good about myself and special. He was the first person who told me that I was beautiful or that I had something to offer the world, and he encouraged me to believe in my dreams, to go to New York. He was such an important person in my life. He died of AIDS, but he went blind toward the end of his life. He was such a lover of art, classical music, literature, opera. You know, I grew up in the Midwest, and it was really because of him that I was exposed to so many of those things. He brought me to my first gay club-it was this club in Detroit. I always felt like I was a freak when I was growing up and that there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t fit in anywhere. But when he took me to that club, he brought me to a place where I finally felt at home. So that character in Filth and Wisdom was dedicated to him and inspired by him.”
Madonna would also recall Christopher’s influence in the second verse of the lyrics to her song, In This Life.
On June 30 1992, Madonna contributed a remixed version of Supernatural (originally released as the b-side to Cherish in 1989) on the AIDS benefit CD, Red Hot & Dance.
On November 9 1985, Madonna hosted the 1985-86 season premiere of NBC-TV’s Saturday Night Live.
The musical guest was Simple Minds. Simple Minds performed Alive and Kicking and Satisfy Yourself.
During the SNL skits, Madonna performed Take On Me, La Bamba and Lionel Richie’s Three Times A Lady.
For the eleventh season of SNL, Lorne Michaels returned as executive producer after a five-year absence. Michaels wanted his own cast so the entire cast from the previous season was fired.
Read this article by Queerty.com:
Say what you will about Madonna’s acting chops, but the icon has always had our backs and never been afraid to push the envelope. Take, for example, her only hosting stint on Saturday Night Live back in 1985 when she was indisputably the most famous
entertainer woman on the planet. In the sketch, which was clearly inspired by the anxiety and, in some cases, furor that surrounded an episode of Dynasty. Superstar actor Rock Hudson had joined the cast as a love interest to series regular Linda Evans. In one episode Hudson kissed Evans on the mouth. Not a big deal, you’re thinking but by the time the episode aired Hudson was revealed to be battling AIDS and had known at the time it was filmed but hadn’t disclosed the information to his costar. It was a different era, friends, an AIDS diagnosis was thought to be a death sentence and there were even tabloid reports that Evans had contracted the disease from a mere smooch. Evans, for the record, bore no grudge against the late superstar.
Anyway, in the skit titled Pinklisting, Madge dons a dark wig to resemble Evans’ other costar Joan Collins and a clipped British accent (a harbinger of things to come!) to play a TV actress unwilling to do scenes with a costar “she doesn’t know” due to her fear of AIDS. The joke, if it can be referred to as one, is that the costar is played by Terry Sweeney (still the only openly gay male SNL player), as a super-femme gay actor who tries to butch it up but he loses his cool when confronted by a snarky Judy-Liza headline.
While the sketch isn’t exactly a rib-tickler it’s surprising in hindsight that it was a comic skit built around AIDS at a time when it was still considered a fatal disease, and broadcast in November 1985, less than a month after Hudson’s death. While that may seem insensitive, remember that this was the year Larry Kramer’s landmark AIDS-themed play The Normal Heart was first produced — and President Reagan hadn’t even uttered the word in public. So let’s hear it again for Madonna, forever at the forefront of progress, bringing a public discourse on the disease into the homes of millions of TV viewers.