Fox (Tues., Nov. 29, 8p.m. ET)
That title manages to combine two words that don’t often enjoy proximity: “Madonna” and “innocence.” They don’t belong together in this queasy, cheesy, pop-star bioflick either. The film purports to establish how Madonna Ciccone went from being a good Catholic girl from Michigan to becoming the most sexually brazen female star since Mae West. But that transformation must be in the prequel: Madonna: The Camp Fire Girl Years. By the time we meet her here, she’s an obstreperous hellion, nothing like a virgin. (Madonna is played by Terumi Matthews, a young actress who looks considerably more like Gloria Estefan than the Material Girl.)
Arriving in New York with $37 and an inexhaustible supply of determination, the young brunette must endure a period of sleeping on park benches and working in a donut shop. (It’s nice to know if this superstar thing doesn’t work out, she has a skill she can fall back on.) But even in her scuffling days, she was, apparently, oddly prescient. For instance, as she spontaneously abbreviates her costume before her very first singing experience, back when she was just an anonymous disco dolly, Madonna declares, “This belly button is going to make us a fortune.”
Dean Stockwell has the thankless role of Madonna‘s supportive father, and Wendie Malick (Dream On) in a spiky, punk hairdo, plays the singer’s first manager, one of the many people Madonna claws past on her way to the pop pinnacle. Malick has it coming, though. She keeps trying to inhibit Madonna with ridiculous rules: “No sleeping with members of the band” (an edict that Ms. M. shatters less than 10 minutes after the first rehearsal).
After sitting through this gross but engrossing display, we are left with a truly bizarre moral: the trite old saw about it being lonely at the top. Of the hundred or so things that spring to mind when I ponder the life of the peroxide phenom, isolation is most assuredly not one of them.