The night before last I read Elyse Hollander‘s Blonde Ambition, the top-rated Black List script about Madonna‘s struggle to find success as a pop singer in early ’80s Manhattan. It’s going to be a good, hard-knocks industry drama when it gets made — basically a blend of a scrappy singing Evita with A Star Is Born — and if the right actress plays Madonna the right way, she might wind up with a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Maybe. Who knows?
This is a flinty, unsentimental empowerment saga about a tough cookie who took no prisoners and was always out for #1. No hearts and flowers for this mama-san.
Madonna and producer-mixer Jellybean Benitez, sometime around the release of her 1983 debut album.
The success of Blonde Ambition will depend, of course, on who directs and how strong the costars are, particularly the guy who plays Madonna’s onetime-boyfriend John “Jellybean” Benitez, whose remix and producing of her self-named first album launched her career, as well as her Emmys bandmate and previous lover Dan Gilroy. (No, I’m not referring to the director-writer who’s preparing to shoot Inner City with Denzel Washington in March — Madonna’s ex is/was a totally different guy.)
A Star Is Born‘s logline was basically “big star with a drinking problem falls for younger ingenue, she rises as he falls and finally commits suicide, leaving her with a broken heart.” Blonde Ambition is about a hungry, super-driven New York pop singer who, like Evita Peron, climbs to the top by forming alliances with this and that guy who helps her in some crucial way, and then moves on to the next partner or benefactor, but at no point in the journey is she fighting for anything other than her own success, and is no sentimentalist or sweetheart.
Alternate: Our very own hungry, hustling, hard-charging singer, living on tips and dimes in NYC in ’81 and ’82, finally gets a leg-up when she cuts a deal with (and then falls in love with) Jellybean Benitez, who remixes her initially troubled debut album (which contained “Borderline” and “Lucky Star”) and makes it into a hit…but like with a previous boyfriend, bandmate Dan Gilroy, she eventually pushes Jellybean aside in favor of a new producer for her second album, Like A Virgin (’84). So Jellybean is the Vickie Lester of this tale, his heart broken at the end by a woman he loved but who finally loved only herself.
Hollander is repped by WME Tanya Cohen and Simon Faber. The producers of the film will be RatPac Entertainment, Michael De Luca Productions and Bellvue Productions.