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Liz Smith: The Madonna Weeps

'I’m really not the sentimental type,' said Madonna, before bursting into tears, while introducing her directorial movie effort, 'W.E.'
The star, who was encased in a tight, gorgeous black lace number that reduced her to taking tiny, timorous steps, held up pretty well during her remarks at the Ziegfeld Theater. She thanked everybody connected to the movie: her actors who were present - Andrea Riseborough, James D’Arcy, Oscar Isaac and David Harbour. (Mr. Harbour plays the rather doltish Ernest Simpson in the film, but in real life he is quite sexy.)
Kudos also went to her producer Harvey Weinstein, known forevermore as 'the Punisher,' thanks to M...to the editors, costume designers, cameraman. She even thanked her press rep of thirty years, Liz Rosenberg ('Think about that. I mean think about it! Imagine what she’s seen and had to listen to and put up with?!')
Madonna appeared to be getting a bit emotional. She said, 'I’ve been working my ass off for the Super Bowl. And everybody who knows me, knows when I’m tired, I cry.' Then, at the end, she dedicated the film to her mother, who died when Madonna was six, 'This movie is the story of a woman’s journey...' she began and without warning, just broke down, much to the shock of the packed house.
In my almost thirty years of covering Madonna, I have seen her only once lose her controlled façade. Several years back, the star appeared with Oprah, defending her choice to adopt her son David. This was in the face of tremendous criticism and speculation that it was a publicity stunt, a 'designer baby.' Madonna appeared red-eyed, agitated and genuinely hurt, but did not weep.
However, just hours later I was told that the instant the cameras went off, Madonna 'completely lost it.'
Stars really are people, with real emotions. Madonna’s tears at her premiere were the most dramatic and memorable aspect of the night.

Madonna had received a standing ovation when she slowly walked from the back of the theater to the stage (well, she really couldn’t walk swiftly, because of that dress.) and the movie was loudly applauded after it was over.
Then, Diane von Furstenberg, Martha Stewart, Calvin Klein, Lou Reed, Julia Stiles, Ingrid Sischy, Zac Posen, Sally Morrison, Susan Rosen, Jacob Bernstein, Lucy Lawless, Rachel Roy, Ivanka Trump, Gayle King and Liz Rosenberg’s incredible staff of vixens - Karen Moss, Nadia Ali, Alexandra Akins - converged at Top of the Standard on West 13th Street for the after party. This was sponsored by The Cinema Society and the diamond company, Forevermark.
Madonna herself appeared, with her boyfriend, dancer Brahim Zaibat, and was instantly ensconced in one of the little enclaves that dot the room. It is a glam spot, but has rising and falling sections, treacherous steps almost certain to produce vertigo, especially the bathrooms (sheets of transparent glass, looking down 20 stories to the pavement.) Real food was almost nonexistent. The 'sliders' disappeared within seconds, though the good-looking staff kept pressing little desserts on the crowd, most of whom were begging for meat.
Madonna had a fine time, but was still struggling to move. It is unlikely she ate a thing. One tiny brownie would have split a seam. She revealed that it was she who insisted on premiering the film at the Ziegfeld. In fact, she told 'The Punisher' - 'no Ziegfeld, no premiere!' Why? Because the great old movie palace is one of the last in the city, perhaps the country, to use a movie projector.'
'It’s film!' she said. Everything else is a digital process now, and I wanted people at the premiere at least to see it with the warmth and depth that only film can transmit. That’s how I envisioned it in the first place.'
About an hour later, Madonna, and most of the crowd, moved to The Standard’s other big room, where everybody danced like mad, under a glittering disco ball. This included the star of the night herself. She had changed into jeans and a flimsy top. She sat for a while watching the dancers from her coming tour perform, but finally got up and 'got down,' with the boyfriend. From a slight distance, in the smoky room, there seemed to be no difference in their age. Even under the harsh lights at the theater, she looked remarkably fresh - younger, with her haired styled in a shorter 1940’s style.
It will be up to the public to have the final say on 'W.E.' But the premiere was a hit, that’s for sure.

To read more from Liz Smith visit www.wowowow.com/liz-smith

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