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Madonna: An Ever-Evolving Diva

Aired August 25, 2001 - 11:30   ET



ANNOUNCER (voice-over): She seduced fans and critics with her Drowned World Tour.


ANNOUNCER: From boy toy to material mom, and all of the steps in between.

NILE ROGERS, PRODUCER, "LIKE A VIRGIN": Madonna definitely seems like a work in progress to me.

ANNOUNCER: Through the controversy, the boyfriends, and the tabloids, we have watched her grow and mature over the past 20 years.

NIKI HARIS, MADONNA BACKUP SINGER: She's living her life through a woman's eye now.

ANNOUNCER: A diva who does it again and again.

MADONNA: I always think, God, I hope I can keep coming up with the goods, and somehow it just happens.


ANNOUNCER: The ever-evolving story of Madonna, now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

DARYN KAGAN, HOST: Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Daryn Kagan.

The prodigal daughter returns. After 20 years of struggle, scandal, and enormous success, Madonna comes home this weekend. She'll perform her buzz heavy sold-out Drowned World Tour to hometown Detroit natives, also to a national audience on HBO.

Now, for you, the twisted tale of how a suburban girl became a superstar. Here is Sharon Collins.



SHARON COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Forty-three years filled with hard work and controversy have landed her here.


COLLINS: Once again, Madonna has people talking. Her Drowned World Tour is the music story of the summer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a show that is sort of bordering on performance art.

COLLINS: As much theater as it is concert, the spectacle has generated serious buzz and stratospheric ticket prices, $3,000 for the best scalped seats.


COLLINS: She may be a married mother of two, but Madonna remains a pop icon.

Through scandal, reinvention, and redemption, she's kept fans and critics alike interested for nearly 20 years.

ROGERS: She's what I call a true star. Even after all these years I still am curious as to, I wonder what she eats for breakfast now? And that's because she's inherently interesting.

COLLINS: Madonna Louise Veronica Cicconi was born to a homemaker and an automotive engineer on August 16, 1958. The family lived in an unremarkable suburb of Detroit.

MADONNA: I wouldn't say that we were poor, but we definitely -- I would say we were lower middle class, and I come from a really big family.

COLLINS: Named after her mother, a young Madonna worked hard to stand out in a family of six kids. Legend has it she would dance and sing on table tops when the mood struck her.

But tragedy rocked the world of this bubbly girl at a young age.

J. RANDY TARABORRELLI, AUTHOR, "MADONNA: AN INTIMATE BIOGRAPHY": Many people know that her mother died when she was 5 years old. But what people don't know is just how terrible that last year of Madonna's mother's life was for Madonna.

COLLINS: At Adams High School in Rochester, Michigan, Madonna lost herself in theater and dance.

MADONNA: I was more of a dancing kid than a singing kid. I mean, I was -- I sang in school choirs and I sang in school musicals, but I was much more interested in dancing than singing.

COLLINS: Even as a teenager, Madonna Cicconi made sure she wasn't overlooked.

TARABORRELLI: She would do stunts as a cheerleader that would, you know, by design show her panties, or she would wear flesh-colored panties while she was doing cheers so that you would think she didn't have any on.

COLLINS: In high school, Madonna was a straight-A student, even then driven to succeed.

KAREN CRAVEN, MADONNA'S CHEERLEADING COACH: She was willing to practice a lot, study a lot. She wasn't a goof-off. And she didn't slough off. She always worked hard.

COLLINS: That hard work landed her a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan. But one year of college was enough for Madonna. She was in a hurry to get on to bigger things. So in 1978, she arrived in the heart of New York's seedy Times Square with little money and no place to live.

MADONNA: I danced in a lot of companies in New York for years, and realized that I was going to be living a hand-to-mouth existence for the rest of my life.

COLLINS: As a fixture on the New York club scene, Madonna got an influential DJ to record a demo tape for her that featured a dance track called "Everybody."

MADONNA: People would hear me sing and they'd say, Hey, your, you know, your voice isn't bad. And I'd say, Oh, really? I mean, I never had any training and never wanted to be a singer. That's not how I started up.

COLLINS: The demo tape eventually landed in the hands of Seymour Stein...


COLLINS: ... chairman of London-Sire Records.

STEIN: She was singing with all her heart, and that's what came across. I was in the hospital, so I played it over and over again, and I really, really liked it. I wanted to sign her immediately.


COLLINS: "Everybody" became a hit on dance floors, and in 1983, Madonna's self-titled debut was released.


COLLINS: The single, "Holiday," earned Madonna an appearance on "American Bandstand" and an infamous post-performance interview with host Dick Clark.


DICK CLARK, HOST: What are your dreams? What's left?

MADONNA: To rule the world.

CLARK: There you go. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Madonna...


CLARK: People would say to me, How did you know, when you say you knew she was a star? Wasn't from my listening here and seeing there. I watched the kids, and they loved her. She had a -- some sort of a -- kind of a bizarre outfit on, she looked different, and she was different, and they loved her.

COLLINS: Next came an unforgettable performance at the MTV Video Music Awards.


ROGERS: It was the perfect blend of theatrics as well as, you know, sort of, like, psychological warfare too. Nobody knew what to make of this new girl who was writhing around on the floor in this wedding dress.

COLLINS: Madonna had invaded the public consciousness and set the stage for nearly 20 years of controversy and success.

TARABORRELLI: I thought she was going to be one of these rock stars who would thumb her nose at the American public for a few years and then just slink off into obscurity. But apparently she had bigger plans.

COLLINS: When Madonna's story continues, how she turned a steamy video banned by MTV into a marketing coup.



KAGAN: Ahead, Madonna sets out to scandalize.

But first, we take a look at other celebrity news in this edition of "Passages."


ANNOUNCER (voice-over): The latest issue of "O" doesn't look like the women's magazine published by Oprah Winfrey. In fact, it's a German erotic publication by the same name. Way before Oprah launched her new glossy, the German magazine was publishing provocative pictures of scantily clad women. The German publisher claims he has the trademark on the big O and is suing Oprah for copyright infringement.

Oprah bills her magazine as "a women's lifestyle magazine guided by the values of Oprah Winfrey." So what's the confusion?

The most famous mobile frank in America is celebrating its B-I-R- T-H. The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile is partying it up after 65 years of traveling the world over, spreading love and mustard for all. The drivable dog was the idea of Oscar Mayer's nephew as a way to transport company spokespeople. It shows no signs of slowing down with age, though. You can catch up with the Wienermobile as it hauls buns across the country this summer.

Lara Croft is used to saving the world. But is she ready to help it? Actress Angelina Jolie has been named a goodwill ambassador by the United Nations. This will be no giant leap for the tattooed Oscar winner. She has spent much of her free time visiting refugee camps across the world.

For more celebrity news, including the first print interview with California Congressman Gary Condit since Chandra Levy's disappearance, pick up a copy of "People" magazine this week.


ANNOUNCER: We'll be right back.



COLLINS (voice-over): By early 1985, Madonna's second album, "Like a Virgin," and its number one single had catapulted her to fame. It also established her as an artist out to push the public's buttons.

TARABORRELLI: At the beginning of her career, she was always one step ahead of her detractors, in the sense that she made a decision to present herself with a tongue-in-cheek sort of a wink and a nod sense of irony.

COLLINS: And her fans were eating it up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't have this happen, like, every day, do you? I mean, it must get a little crazy.

MADONNA: Thank God, no.


COLLINS: In her critically acclaimed film debut, "Desperately Seeking Susan," Madonna essentially played herself.


MADONNA: Why don't I get some pizza and I'll meet you at home?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You've got a place?

MADONNA: Not exactly.


TARABORRELLI: You knew it was real. You knew that she really was this sort of boy-toy material girl. (MUSIC)

COLLINS: On the set of her "Material Girl" video, Madonna met the man she once called the love of her life. Sean Penn was an interesting choice for a woman who loved the spotlight.

TARABORRELLI: During this time in her life, she was constantly surrounded by the media and by paparazzi. And she loved it. She had worked very hard to get this kind of attention. Sean, on the other hand, as he explained to me, felt that it was a real intrusion.

COLLINS: So much so that more than once, Penn's fists landed on a photographer's face.

But love won out, and on her 27th birthday in Malibu, California, Madonna became Mrs. Sean Penn in a ceremony off limits to the media.


MADONNA: I didn't like the attention that -- you know, the focus on the state of our marriage. I like attention when it's about work, but not about relationships.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": And he didn't like it either.

MADONNA: No, he hated it.


COLLINS: And the critics hated them in the movie they did together, "Shanghai Surprise." Their offscreen relationship wasn't faring much better. Four years into the marriage, things fell apart. Madonna filed for divorce on January 5, 1989, amid rumors of physical abuse. The breakup left Madonna emotionally scarred.

TARABORRELLI: She wasn't used to failures, so that was a bitter pill to swallow. It was very difficult for her.

MADONNA: He's an incredible human being. He's intelligent, he's talented. And even though, you know, things didn't work out for us in terms of our marriage, I don't regret marrying him for a moment.

COLLINS: In March of 1989, Madonna released a fourth album, her most artistically mature to date. It spawned three number one singles, including the self-penned "Like a Prayer."


COLLINS: The song's video came complete with burning crosses and sexual innuendo, awakening the ire of religious groups.

TARABORRELLI: Well, Madonna's always had sort of a love-hate relationship with the Catholic faith. You know, a lot of what she was doing back in those years was to get attention, and also to make a certain statement that these really are just symbols, and that perhaps the Catholic faith is really about more than that.

COLLINS: The hype only added fuel to the fire of Madonna's stardom, a lesson the business-savvy performer would not forget.

Madonna continued to express herself. A highly charged performance on 1990's Blonde Ambition tour drew the attention of law enforcement officials as documented in the behind-the scenes tour film, "Truth or Dare."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say that you can't do the masturbation scene tonight, otherwise you'll be arrested.

MADONNA: Really? OK, let's see what happens.


COLLINS: Her 1991 video, "Justify My Love," was even too steamy for MTV. The channel refused to air the video, and Madonna refused to re-edit it. Instead, she made the video available in stores, where it went on to sell more than half a million copies. Her detractors saw the successful turn of events as a thinly veiled exercise in shrewd marketing.

ALEK KESHISHIAN, DIRECTOR, "TRUTH OR DARE": I got the phone call the day that MTV banned the video, and it was not Madonna gleefully jumping up and down, saying, Yeah, yeah, yeah, they fell right into it, at all. It was a woman saying, I've just spent three weeks of my life on this video, you know, and now it might not get seen at all. And then she figures out what to do, and that's what makes her a great businesswoman.

COLLINS: Madonna continued down the road to the dark side with the erotic thriller "Body of Evidence" and the publication of her intensely graphic book of fantasies titled simply "Sex." The "Sex" book's 1 million copies sold out almost immediately, but it was the first time controversy wasn't helping Madonna's career.


MADONNA: I published a book that was sort of an ironic tongue- in-cheek sticking my tongue out at society photo essay.

KING: Take that!

MADONNA: So there.

KING: Well, it worked, obviously. It sold, and people reacted to it.

MADONNA: It pissed off a lot of people too.

KING: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TARABORRELLI: She was pushing the envelope, but she was at the time pushing it right down people's throats.


MADONNA: I don't know why I get so much (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT," CBS: You realize this is being broadcast, don't you?


COLLINS: A supposedly playful appearance on the David Letterman show backfired, and a string of high-profile romances didn't enhance her reputation. Even sales of her LP "Erotica" were sluggish by Madonna's standards.

TARABORRELLI: This was a time in her life when she was really distancing herself from her public in a way that could have proved completely damaging to a person's career, had it been anybody other than Madonna.

COLLINS: It was time for a reinvention.

STEIN: It's almost as if she, like, reached down, turned herself inside out, you know, like she's a real chameleon, and she can do it over and over again.

COLLINS: In the fall of 1994, Madonna released the romantic ballad "Take a Bow," appearing soft and vulnerable in the video.


COLLINS: It was her most successful single ever, staying at number one for nine weeks. At the same time, a transformation was beginning to take place in Madonna's personal life. During the filming of "Evita," a role Madonna had lobbied after for years, she discovered she was pregnant. Her personal trainer, Carlos Leon, was the father.

In October of 1996, Lourdes Maria Cicconi Leon, affectionately known as Lola, was born. At the age of 38, Madonna became a mother.

MADONNA: Every day I'm in complete wonderment of her.

COLLINS: Shortly after Lourdes was born, "Evita" was released.




COLLINS: Madonna's work on her voice and her acting paid off. In January of 1997, she was rewarded by the Hollywood foreign press with a Golden Globe. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the winner is Madonna, "Evita."

MADONNA: I just feel that what is happening to me is a perfect example that -- of, you know, if you just keep on going and you put your mind to something, you can achieve anything.


COLLINS: Coming up, the transformation continues. Madonna gets in touch with her spiritual side and gets banned one more time.


KAGAN: Madonna on her way to enlightenment. That's coming up.

But now we check in with one of her fun-loving contemporaries. Here's our weekly feature, "Where Are They Now?"


ANNOUNCER (voice-over): In the '80s, Madonna wasn't the only girl having fun on fledgling network MTV. Cindi Lauper burst onto the scene in 1983 with catchy pop tunes, flashy videos, and her trademark retro punk look. Her album, "She's So Unusual," won her a Grammy for best new artist.

` So where is Cindi Lauper now? Now 48, Lauper was married to actor David Thornton in 1991 and gave birth to son Declan in 1997. She won an Emmy in 1995 for her guest role in the sitcom "Mad About You" and has been on tour with Tina Turner and Cher. And most recently appeared in Boston's annual Pops Goes the Fourth holiday concert.


ANNOUNCER: We'll be right back.




COLLINS (voice-over): After more than 15 years in the public eye and almost as many incarnations, Madonna Louise Veronica Cicconi emerged in the late '90s as a woman and mother in search of the deeper meanings in life.


MADONNA: I've studied Hinduism, I studied Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism...

KING: You believe in a Supreme Being. MADONNA: Absolutely. But I also believe that all paths lead to God.



COLLINS: Madonna's newfound spirituality came through on her 1998 release, "Ray of Light." Critics called the album the best of her career.


TARABORRELLI: It sort of galvanized a great fascination, and people became really interested in what she had to say, because I know that they knew that she was saying something personal.


COLLINS: The "Ray of Light" track "Substitute for Love" spoke of a struggle to make room for real relationships in a life once defined by an intense determination to be a star.

The new Madonna was a far cry from the hard-edged sexual expressionist of the early '90s.

TARABORRELLI: Popular conception about Madonna is that she has reinvented herself over and over and over again, and it's often put out there as a pejorative notion, in the sense that this is a woman who really has no identity.

STEIN: You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time. It's 19 years, come on, give the girl credit. She's a star, she's -- really, come on.

HARIS: It's just a journey. I mean, I think she's just like everybody else. She's a work in progress. She just happens to be playing it out in front of cameras.

COLLINS: In 1999, Madonna received something she had craved her entire career.


KING: Oh, you win the Grammy, let's say you win the -- I predict.

MADONNA: Please, God.

KING: Your lips to God.


COLLINS: "Ray of Light" won four Grammys. Her spiritual rebirth had been validated, and one year later, Madonna announced she was pregnant for the second time. Guy Ritchie, an edgy British film director, was the father. Rocco Ritchie was born in Los Angeles August 11, 2000, at the same time the title track from his mom's forthcoming album, "Music," had planed itself in the "Billboard" top 40.


COLLINS: "Music," the album, arrived to raves and hit number one in more than 40 countries. Madonna had taken chances artistically, using European producers to give her a fresh sound.

MADONNA: I always want to write good music, and I always -- you know, every time I go in the studio, I always think, God, I hope I can keep coming up with the goods. And somehow it just happens.

COLLINS: Madonna's private life was also flourishing. On December 21, 2000, Madonna christened Rocco and married his dad the next day at Skibo Castle in Scotland. However, the marriage wasn't a signal that Madonna was ready to settle down entirely.


COLLINS: With the help of her director hubby, Madonna got banned from MTV once again with the video "What It Feels Like for a Girl." The clip has Madonna and her video granny on a violent tear against random, and apparently innocent, men. Once again, Madonna's artistic expression managed to push some buttons.


COLLINS: On her current Drowned World Tour, Madonna is stretching herself artistically. "What It Feels Like for a Girl" is given a new twist, sung in Spanish, and she plays an instrument on stage for the first time in her career. The six-string was a gift from husband Guy Ritchie. Madonna took lessons and has practiced every day since January.


CLARK: I was in an airport. I wasn't down South. And a high proportion of women had cowboy hats on. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what's going on here? And there was a moment in her life when Madonna sported that cowboy hat. And bang! She influenced women again. She still is influencing people to this day.


COLLINS: At the age of 43 and after 20 years in the spotlight, most who know Madonna think she's far from singing her swan song.

HARIS: I think the artist in her will want to tour again. I don't think that you can pick up an instrument and realize, Oh, I can play this, I don't think you can, as an artist, I don't think you can watch your voice start to blossom and not want to still share that with people.

STEIN: If you just look back at all the female superstars that have come and gone in the span of her career, I think it's just not a safe bet any more to bet against her.


COLLINS: And for her part, Madonna has no regrets.

MADONNA: I wouldn't trade my life for anyone's.


KAGAN: Madonna hasn't given up on her acting career. She's set to star in a remake of the 1975 Italian love story "Swept Away." The film will be directed by her husband, Guy Ritchie.

For more material on the Material Girl, you can check out our Web site at

Next week, a look back at the life of Princess Diana on the anniversary of her death. A tour of the family estate where she's buried and a rare look at video of Diana as a young girl.

Thanks for joining us this week. For all of us here at PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, I'm Daryn Kagan.



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