Over the past year, quite a few articles have offered sensationalized glimpses of the forthcoming film Emmy and the Breakfast Club, written and directed by Guy Guido about Madonna's pre-fame years in NYC.
Now, shooting is completed, an eight-minute teaser was played for the cast and crew, and I've got the scoop on the intimate wrap party ...
I was very fortunate to be included in the wrap party for Emmy and the Breakfast Club, writer-director Guy Guido's ode to Madonna's time in the titular bands, back when she was learning her craft as a musician and figuring out how to rule the world.
It was a friends-and-family-only crowd at the NoMad bar where the party was held, with the handsome auteur presiding over the proceedings. Among attendees were several participants in the film, including stars Jamie Auld (who plays Madonna), Calvin Knie (Dan Gilroy), actors Denise Juhos (Madonna's mother), Michael Varde (Emmy member Mike Monahan), Jean-Luc McMurtry (Emmy member Brian Symms), James David Larson (Emmy and Breakfast Club member Gary Burke) and Rogelio Douglas III (as Steve Bray).
Excitingly for the few fans in attendance, Gary Burke himself was there, as was Stephen Jon Lewicki, the man who infamously directed Madonna in her first film, a student effort that was later commercialized in 1985 much to her chagrin, A Certain Sacrifice.
The film is all shot but not all edited (it's got a super cute editor, who I met — just saying!). Still, Guido was able to present an eight-minute teaser to give us an idea of what to expect, and now my write-up will give you an idea of what to expect.
The film includes original interviews with a number of Madonna's early-years associates, most importantly Dan and Ed Gilroy, but also Lewicki, Burke, photographer Peter Kentes and Norris Burroughs, that lover of Madonna's who once quoted her as saying to him, “Get that Brando” body of yours over here.” (His Brando body was unable to attend the party, unfortunately.)
Along with these traditional interview segments — which look to have been beautifully and stylishly filmed — and original footage and photos of Madonna and others, there are also these recreations of key moments in Madonna's life and career, some reconstructed from audio recordings Madonna made when she was living with Dan Gilroy. The recordings are intimate, romantic, expressive passages, most of which appear in the film, either in original form or as dramatized interludes. It's eerie how spot-on Auld is as Madonna in appearance, mannerism and speech, and watching the intertwining of the actual recordings with the scenes Guido filmed of his actors was spellbinding. The tapes are set to be a huge part of the narrative of the film, giving it a haunting feel.
Other things gleaned from the teaser: Guido's attention to detail, and the zeal with which he recreates recognizable moments (home movies, Emmy perfs, Madonna's nude modeling sessions, even her Like a Virgin album shoot), rivals that of Ryan Murphy. It's true that Jamie looks a lot like Madonna, but the uncanny part is how Guido has taken care to present her hair and makeup as accurately as possible, and even had entire outfits glimpsed in rare photos recreated from scratch.
It was also a thrill to hear a never-before-leaked duet featuring Madonna, and to see some new-to-us photos of her from 35-plus years ago, including one stunning pic Dan Gilroy shot of Madonna with a skull on her head, looking regal in a purple and green ensemble.
So the teaser went over like gangbusters, and it revealed some key information: Jamie isn't just a Madoppelganger, she can also act; the film looks expensive; the attention to detail will throw even the most diehard fan for a loop; and there's just no way to interpret this project as anything less than a valentine to Madonna. Most documentary-style films include cheesy recreations. This one prioritizes the recreations, elevating them to the level of a narrative feature within the doc.
I would be shocked if this film, once it's all done, did not please Madonna with its attention to getting things right, and its unconditional respect for her accomplishments.
As for the rest of the event, it was so nice to get to meet Gary Burke, who was the life of the party. He was very social, and sang a bit of “Holiday” when it played. He spoke highly of Guido and the project and seemed very happy to have participated.
Lewicki was a real sweetheart! Knowing what we know about his legal battle with Madonna, he certainly seemed to bear no ill will, congenially recalling tidbits of his time with her, and praising Jamie for capturing so many nuances of her character. He noted that while he was negotiating to have A Certain Sacrifice released to capitalize on Madonna's meteoric rise to fame, he was dealing with the infamous Billionaire Boys Club honchos — and the murder that brought the scheme down occurred the day he was clinching his deal!
He never really wanted to be a filmmaker. God bless him for having the good luck to make so much cash off of Madonna on what was essentially a student film. It certainly doesn't seem to have dinged her own success!
I also hung out with Michele Ruiz and Frank Orlik, who are extras in the film and massive Madonna fans I see at all M-related events; Hamlet Tallaj, whose Hamlet's Vintage was a location; and Oxana Nabokova, who was a production assistant on the film and one of Madonna's unapologetic bitches last tour.
Everyone seemed impressed with what we saw. Now, we await the final product!