In what seems to be an unprecedented creative move, the pop icon will direct a film about her life and career — one that’s been heavily teased on her social media accounts, through script sessions with her Oscar-winning co-writer Diablo Cody.
That Madonna, whose staggering five-decade career has seen countless musical reinventions and a run at filmmaking and acting, would direct her own journey from New York City’s slums to the heights of global stardom is beyond rare. The super-famous are often involved peripherally as creative consultants and executive producers in their own adapted stories (like recent awards players like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Rocketman”).
The untitled film has landed at Universal Pictures, under the wing of filmed entertainment group chair Donna Langley and producer Amy Pascal, whose eponymous company is set up on the Universal lot. A production timeline is unknown and principal cast has yet to be announced.
“I want to convey the incredible journey that life has taken me on as an artist, a musician, a dancer — a human being, trying to make her way in this world,” Madonna said in a statement. “The focus of this film will always be music. Music has kept me going and art has kept me alive. There are so many untold and inspiring stories and who better to tell it than me. It’s essential to share the roller coaster ride of my life with my voice and vision.”
Langley praised Madonna as “the ultimate icon, humanitarian, artist and rebel.”
“With her singular gift of creating art that is as accessible as it is boundary-pushing, she has shaped our culture in a way very few others have,” Langley said.
Sara Zambreno and Guy Oseary will executive produce. Senior executive VP of Production Erik Baiers and director of development Lexi Barta will oversee the project on behalf of the studio.
The project is a reunion of sorts of Madonna and Pascal, who made the sentimental favorite “A League of Their Own” together in 1992.
“This movie is an absolute labor of love for me,” Pascal said. “I have known Madonna since we made ‘A League of Their Own’ together, and I can’t imagine anything more thrilling than collaborating with her and Diablo on bringing her true-life story to the big screen with Donna and our partners at Universal.”
Madonna has previously directed two features, the 2008 drama “Filth and Wisdom,” and the 2011 Golden Globe-winning “W.E.” Her acting credits include “Desperately Seeking Susan,” “Dick Tracy,” and 1996’s “Evita,” which earned her a Golden Globe for best actress.
Her musical bonafides include the tiles of best-selling female music artist in history, with 335 million records worldwide, and highest-grossing solo touring artist of all time. Madonna was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, and counts 658 prominent global award nominations and 225 wins.
Cody is an Academy Award winner for best original screenplay for “Juno.” She also wrote and produced “Jennifer’s Body,” and Charlize Theron’s “Young Adult.”
Madonna is represented by CAA and Maverick. Cody is represented by WME, MXN Entertainment and McKuin Frankel Whitehead LLP.
How would our solar system look from the vicinity of another star? Using technologies similar to ours, alien astronomers would have a tough time photographing our small, rocky Earth. They might more easily manage to capture images of our solar system’s biggest planets, the large gaseous worlds Jupiter and Saturn. Of the thousands of exoplanets discovered so far orbiting distant stars, earthly astronomers have captured direct images of only a very few. In each of these images, only one planet can be seen. Now astronomers say they’ve acquired a first-ever direct image of two giant exoplanets, orbiting a sunlike star.
The astronomers were using the SPHERE instrument on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory. The exciting peer-reviewed results were published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters on July 22, 2020.
This planetary system orbits the star TYC 8998-760-1. It’s 300 light-years away in the direction of the southern constellation Musca the Fly. The system seems to resemble our own solar system, but is much younger.
Here’s the young star TYC 8998-760-1, in the upper left. Astronomers blocked its light via a coronagraph; the bright and dark rings around it are optical artifacts (imperfections in the image, not part of the star itself). The 2 bright orbs in the center and bottom right are giant exoplanets, orbiting this star, 300 light-years away. This is the 1st time astronomers have directly photographed more than 1 planet orbiting a sunlike star. Image via ESO/ Bohn et al.
Alexander Bohn, who led the research, is a Ph.D. student at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He stated:
This discovery is a snapshot of an environment that is very similar to our solar system, but at a much earlier stage of its evolution.
While there are several methods for detecting exoplanets by how they affect their stars’ light during a transit or how their gravity slightly tugs at their stars, imaging them directly is still difficult due to the immense distances involved, even for large gas giant-type planets. According to co-author Matthew Kenworthy:
Even though astronomers have indirectly detected thousands of planets in our galaxy, only a tiny fraction of these exoplanets have been directly imaged. Direct observations are important in the search for environments that can support life.
Two other planetary systems had been photographed before with more than one planet each, but neither of the stars were sunlike. VLT had also photographed an exoplanet orbiting a brown dwarf – a type of “failed star” – back in 2004. This, however, is the first time that two planets have ever been imaged around a sunlike star. Maddalena Reggiani, a postdoctoral researcher from Belgium, said:
Our team has now been able to take the first image of two gas giant companions that are orbiting a young, solar analog.
The two planets as seen through several filters on SPHERE and NACO. Image via ESO/ Bohn et al.
What might these newly discovered worlds be like?
They are gas giants, like Jupiter and Saturn, but are larger and more massive. One of the planets is about 14 times more massive than Jupiter, while the other is six times more massive. They also orbit farther away from their star than Jupiter and Saturn do around the sun. Jupiter and Saturn orbit at five and 10 times the Earth-sun distance, while these other alien worlds orbit their star at a whopping 160 and 320 times the Earth-sun distance.
The TYC 8998-760-1 system seems to have a general similar appearance to our own solar system, but is much younger, only an estimated 17 million years old. That’s like being a toddler compared to our 4.6 billion-year-old solar system.
In the new image, the two planets can be seen as small, bright dots. The star is the larger and brighter “ring” in the upper-left of the image. It looks that way because the SPHERE instrument on VLT blocks the brightest light coming from the star using a coronograph. This way, the smaller and fainter planets can be seen. The researchers took different images at different times, and so were able to see the planets’ movements against the background of stars.
The location of the TYC 8998-760-1 system in the constellation Musca the Fly. Image via ESO.
It was also easier to image these planets because they are young, and therefore a lot warmer, making them glow brighter in infrared light.
The new planets were discovered as part of a search for giant planets around younger, sunlike stars.
Of course, the researchers want to continue to study these young worlds. One question they have is whether they formed where they currently are around the star or if they migrated from somewhere else in the system. ESO’s upcoming Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will be able to help with this, as well as study how the two planets interact with each other. Bohn said:
The possibility that future instruments, such as those available on the ELT, will be able to detect even lower-mass planets around this star marks an important milestone in understanding multi-planet systems, with potential implications for the history of our own solar system.
Alexander Bohn at Leiden University, who led the new research. Image via Leiden University.
On June 3, 2013, ESO announced the successful imaging of the exoplanet HD 95086 b, also about 300 light-years away, which is another giant world four to five times more massive than Jupiter. It was also found using VLT. That planet orbits at its star at 56 times the distance from the Earth to the sun, and twice the sun-Neptune distance. The star is a little more massive than the sun and is surrounded by a debris disk, and like TYC 8998-760-1, is a very young star. It is estimated to be only 10 to 17 million years old.
In 2018, a congressionally-mandated report recommended that NASA lead the effort to directly image Earth-sized (or even Earth-like?) exoplanets using new and upcoming technologies.
The newest image is exciting since it is another step toward being able to actually photograph smaller alien worlds, such as super-Earths and planets about the same size as Earth. Will we eventually find another “pale blue dot“?
Orbits of the 2 giant exoplanets orbiting the star TYC 8998-760-1. They are gas giant worlds, much like Jupiter and Saturn, but are larger and more massive. Jupiter and Saturn orbit at 5 and 10 times the Earth-sun distance. The 2 giant exoplanets orbiting TYC 8998-760-1 are a whopping 160 and 320 times the Earth-sun distance.
Bottom line: For the first time, astronomers have obtained direct images of two giant exoplanets orbiting a sunlike star. The star is TYC 8998-760-1, 300 light-years from Earth.
Paul Scott Anderson has had a passion for space exploration that began when he was a child when he watched Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. While in school he was known for his passion for space exploration and astronomy. He started his blog The Meridiani Journal in 2005, which was a chronicle of planetary exploration. In 2015, the blog was renamed as Planetaria. While interested in all aspects of space exploration, his primary passion is planetary science. In 2011, he started writing about space on a freelance basis, and now currently writes for AmericaSpace and Futurism (part of Vocal). He has also written for Universe Today and SpaceFlight Insider, and has also been published in The Mars Quarterly and has done supplementary writing for the well-known iOS app Exoplanet for iPhone and iPad.