Today in Madonna History: March 15, 1999

On March 15 1999, Madonna’s publicist, Liz Rosenberg, confirmed to MTV News that a tour in support of Ray Of Light had been canceled.  Instead, Madonna would be working on a number of other projects including:

  • A new song with Ricky Martin for his next album
  • A new song for the Austin Powers 2 soundtrack
  • Assembling a new greatest hits album (Liz called it “The Immaculate Collection 2“) with a few new songs
  • Starring in a new film, The Next Best Thing, with Rupert Everett

Liz had this to say:

“The starting date of the movie was postponed, and it created such a small window to turn things around and get into total tour mode and put together the kind of show Madonna does, with no stone unturned, that she thought it would be better to wait until 2000.”

Today in Madonna History: February 22, 1992

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On February 22 1992, Madonna made a surprise guest appearance on NBC-TV’s Saturday Night Live, where she lovingly spoofed longtime publicist Liz Rosenberg (and herself as well) in the recurring skit “Coffee Talk” alongside her favorite SNL alum Mike Myers and host Roseanne.

But the biggest surprise turned out to be reserved for Madonna, Myers and Roseanne when the subject of their adoration in the skit, Barbra Streisand, made a rare public appearance by sauntering on set as they were finishing up the sketch.

Today in Madonna History: February 13, 1995

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On February 13 1995, Bedtime Story was released in Europe by Maverick Records as the third single from the album Bedtime Stories. In North America, the single was delayed until April due to the sleeper success of Take A Bow, which continued its slow-but-steady climb to the top of the Hot 100.

Bedtime Story was written by Björk, Marius De Vries & Nellee Hooper and was produced by Hooper & Madonna. Björk’s original demo, titled Let’s Get Unconscious, was reworked by Hooper & DeVries and renamed Bedtime Story for its submission to Madonna. Björk later revisited elements of the song’s lyrics in Sweet Intuition–a b-side from her 1995 single, Army Of Me.

In a 2001 interview for NYLON magazine, writer James Servin asked Björk whether it was true that she had written the lyrics to Bedtime Story for Madonna because she liked the idea of her expressing a viewpoint that was paradoxical to her controlled public image:

“I think at the time, yes. But that’s like six years ago, when everything about [Madonna] seemed very controlled. I think she’s a very intuitive person, and definitely her survival instincts are incredible. They’re like, outrageous. At the time, the words I thought she should say were, ‘I’m not using words anymore, let’s get unconscious honey. Fuck logic. Just be intuitive. Be more free. Go with the flow.’ Right now, she seems pretty much to be going with the flow.”

This prompts me to ask Björk if she thinks she might have put those mellowing-out thoughts into Madonna’s head. “Well, I wouldn’t credit myself for that,” she says. “Not at all. That’s a question for you to ask her.”

I sent a fax to Madonna via her publicist Liz Rosenberg, with the question: “Did singing the lyrics Björk wrote for Bedtime Story lead you in the direction of going more with the flow?” A day or two later, I receive this e-mail from Liz Rosenberg: “I wish I could get an answer from Madonna for you. She’s deep into rehearsals for her tour, and I can’t get any info from her for a while. I can tell you that Madonna certainly thinks Björk is inspiring and a brilliant artist. Madonna is a huge fan of her music. I’ve never thought Madonna was a ‘go with the flow’ person before or after recording Bedtime Story. She goes with a flow – but it’s a flow of her own creation, if you know what I mean.”

Today in Madonna History: December 14, 1987

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On December 14 1987, Madonna and Sean Penn appeared on the cover of People magazine.

Everyone Said It Wouldn’t Last… …And It Didn’t. After Two Years of Marriage, Madonna and Sean Penn Go Their Separate Ways.  

Well, you can’t blame Judge John Merrick. It was Merrick, now a retired justice of the peace, who performed the August 1985 marriage of Madonna Louise Ciccone and Sean “KO” Penn. “I felt they were serious about their vows,” says Merrick. “I remember a line from the ceremony: ‘Although there will be times that your moods may falter, and you’ll question each other’s motives, the faith and love that you share will help to show that your inconsistency is only for the moment.’ ”   Trouble is, for Sean, 27, and Madonna, 29, that moment seemed to persist for a little over two years. Now, after 27 months of holy matrimony and unholy acrimony, the material girl and her rebel without a pause are positively, absolutely, this-time-they’re-not-kidding headed for that crowded community called Splitsville. “The marriage is definitely over,” says Madonna’s spokesperson, Liz Rosenberg. Seconds Penn’s publicist, Lois Smith, “The two of them have called off the marriage.”

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Today in Madonna History: September 7, 1995

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On September 7 1995, Madonna won Best Female Video for “Take A Bow” at the 12th annual MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY. Madonna also presented the award for Best Rap Video.

Later, a post-show chat with Kurt Loder to promote her upcoming ballads collection Something To Remember quickly went off the rails when Courtney Love infamously interrupted the interview. While it may have been Liz Rosenberg’s worst nightmare, the hilarious encounter certainly gave viewers something to remember!

Today in Madonna History: January 5, 1989

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On January 5 1989, Madonna filed for divorce from Sean Penn citing “irreconcilable differences” at the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Los Angeles, California.

Madonna’s publicist at the time, Liz Rosenberg, made this statement:

“I can only tell you that there will definitely be no further comment from either Mr. Penn or Madonna on this subject.”

Today in Madonna History: October 28, 1996

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On October 28 1996, Madonna was featured on the cover of People Magazine.  The story focused on the birth of her first child, Lourdes Maria Ciccone.

Labor of Love

After 12 Exhausting Hours, Madonna Gives Birth to Healthy Baby Girl Lourdes Maria Ciccone.

IT IS A WONDERFUL TIME FOR A woman, that moment when she realizes a new life is within her, stirring, growing, forcing her to think about eventually removing her gold belly-button ring. For Madonna, that revelation came in Buenos Aires last March during the shoot for the musical Evita, when she learned that, after years of talking on the Late Show with David Letterman and in similar intimate venues about trying to get pregnant, she was finally tangoing for two.

Delighted but already feeling protective of her unborn child, she at first spoke of the situation only to her sister, her personal trainer and, of course, to the baby’s father, Carlos Leon. But secrets about Madonna seldom stay kept. By the time she checked into Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles last week, there were tofu merchants in Bali who knew she was leaning away from a C-section, and the paparazzi, like contractions, were arriving every few minutes.

It was not an easy birth. Madonna’s labor began at 3:30 a.m. last Monday morning. Leon and the singer’s sister Melanie Henry, a musicians’ manager in Los Angeles, were with her through the night. But by noon the next day the only thing that had arrived was an intense hunger. “Ugh,” said Madonna, 38, from her bed in the labor room. “I just want some french fries from McDonald’s.”

Her Plan A had been to have natural childbirth with the soundtrack of a romantic 1988 Alan Rudolph film called The Moderns playing. By 3:30 Monday afternoon, however, Madonna was still in pain but showing no signs of progress, and her doctor suggested a cesarean. She reluctantly agreed and soon found herself heavily sedated and being wheeled toward the delivery room. “Goodbye, everyone,” she said. “I’m going to get my nose job now.”

From that point on, things proceeded smoothly. Her daughter, weighing 6 lbs. 9 ozs. and sporting a full head of black hair just like her father’s, was born at 4:01 p.m. No, the baby’s name is not Lola—one of the many false rumors preceding the birth. Madonna had said she needed to see her child before coming up with a proper name—and after taking one look, she pronounced the girl Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon. No hyphen, no worries, no doubt about it. “This is,” Madonna told PEOPLE, “the greatest miracle of my life.”

Leon, meanwhile, seemed just as ecstatic when he stepped out of the delivery room moments after the birth. “She’s the most beautiful baby!” he said, grinning broadly, to a group that included Madonna’s manager Caresse Norman, publicist Liz Rosenberg and several friends and personal security guards. Later, Leon was seen blissfully wandering the corridors in a T-shirt reading, “I Got My First Hug at Good Samaritan Hospital.”

For a woman who once published a picture book called Sex and scandalized millions by simulating masturbation onstage, Madonna has segued into this current stage of her life quite smoothly. Over the last few months, photos of her showed a face that was fuller and more serene. She had been sonogrammed (It’s a girl!), steeped in Dr. Spock et al (“Which baby book haven’t I read?”), and baby-showered by Rosie O’Donnell and their mutual pals (“The whole world wants to give me advice”). True, in what seemed a classic Madonna touch, her pediatrician turned out to be Paul Fleiss, father of Hollywood madam Heidi. Yet Madonna herself has lately exuded a maternal glow, and the idea of her executing pelvic thrusts anywhere outside a Lamaze class seemed, for the moment, unthinkable.

Certainly she approached maternity in mature fashion. “We talked about having children while we were making A League of Their Own,” says Rosie O’Donnell. “Both of us lost our mothers at an early age, and so being a mom was important to us.” After Evita wrapped in May, Madonna, who was 5 when her mother died, put her pink Hollywood Hills mansion on the market and bought a more baby-friendly, single-story house in lower profile Los Feliz. For a while, the nursery has been ready for its raison d’être. The room, decorated in soft florals, has a crib and a changing table piled high with stuffed animals—some given to her, some purchased, then tossed on the heap. Says Madonna’s younger brother, video director Christopher Ciccone: “There’s a certain serenity in her newfound chaos.”

There has also been much joy. “She’s been in a great mood,” says her trainer Ray Kybartas. The first time she felt the baby kick, in May, Madonna says, “I felt like laughing out loud.” During the amniocentesis that same month, “she was very emotional,” says manager Norman. “When Madonna watched the monitor and saw the needle go in, there may have even been a tear on her cheek.”

Until labor started, Madonna says, she had a relatively easy nine months. She never had morning sickness, and except for a craving for poached eggs in her fourth month, she didn’t have much trouble adhering to her usual low-fat diet. As for working out, she did an almost daily hour of aerobics and some weight training with Kybartas, who adds that “we also did a lot of stretching, especially leg work that would help her in the delivery room.” In her last month, she cut back from six sessions a week to three.

One part of her life she hasn’t phased out is Leon, 30, the handsome personal trainer and aspiring actor she met while running in Central Park two years ago. Despite reports of their breakup, the pair are living together, though Madonna dodges the question of how involved Leon will be in raising their child. “He is definitely in the picture,” says publicist Rosenberg.

Madonna lately has displayed a strong sense of family. Two weeks ago she had dinner at her home with Leon, Christopher, sister Melanie and her 6-year-old son Levon. Afterward she did something that one relative says he hasn’t seen her do in years: the dishes. Now that she’s a mother, she has no plans beyond doting on her baby. Because of problems with a stalker last year, Madonna says she won’t be releasing a baby picture soon and “I won’t be doing anything in public with my daughter until she’s much older.”

Rosie O’Donnell assured her life will be different. “I told her,” she says, “it’s going to change her in the best possible way.” With Lourdes Maria on her hip, Madonna’s wants are few. “I just can’t wait,” she says laughingly, “to wear anything with a waistline.”

Written by Todd Gold

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