It could have been an hour-long commercial for "Evita." It could have been a bad David Letterman routine. ("Madonna, Oprah. Oprah, Madonna.")
Instead, Madonna's appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show yesterday was an unexpectedly touching bit of celebrity television. Not only was there plenty of dish -- about her lack of wedding plans, about her daughter Lourdes' designer togs, about what a liar Dennis Rodman is -- but it made the singer seem far more human and vulnerable than her hard-as-nails image has ever suggested.
But first, let's deal with the dirt. Winfrey asked if Madonna knew in advance that Dennis Rodman, whom the singer once dated, was devoting an entire chapter in his autobiography to their sexcapades. "I had heard that he had done a book," said Madonna, "but I had no idea that he was going to devote a chapter, a fictional chapter [to me] "I think someone wrote the book for him," she added. "I'm sure they sort of made stuff up together."
"He said you wanted his baby," said Winfrey.
"Really?" answered Madonna. "Well he's lying. I only dated him for two months."
When Winfrey added that she had read that Rodman wanted to apologize to Madonna for the book, the singer sniffed, "Well, he'd better crawl from here to China."
Madonna also talked about her dreams. Apparently, she often dreams about losing her teeth. "I don't know what it means," she said. "I think it has something to do with death, perhaps?"
Then there was the Sharon Stone dream. "Sharon Stone invited me over to her house," she said. "She was dressed very glamorously, laying in a bathtub. Completely made up. And I said, 'Wow.' " Madonna laughed. Then, she said, Courtney Love turned up outside the bathroom. "She had a gun," said Madonna, laughing even harder. "The door was shut, and she said, 'You two better open up or I'm gonna shoot you both.' Then when I opened the door she laughed, said she was just kidding."
On the whole, though, the show was relatively free of the usual celebrity chat, preferring to put its emphasis on the person behind all that hype and notoriety.
For instance, Winfrey asked how Madonna -- whose own mother died when she was just 5 -- felt about being a mother now herself.
"All I can say is, when I look into my daughter's eyes right now, I feel like, I feel that I'm being healed," said the singer.
"Really?" asked Winfrey.
"Yeah. It's incredible," said Madonna, clearly about to blink back tears. "Because I didn't have a mother that I could grow up looking into the eyes of, I couldn't see myself in her. So now I look into my daughter's eyes, and I see that recognition. It is extraordinary. It's going to heal a lot of the pain I felt growing up without a mother."
Of course, little Lourdes (who will be 2 months old today) has something else, too, the new mother pointed out: Dolce & Gabbana baby clothes. "Really!" laughed Madonna, who herself was wearing a stylish but conservative baby-blue dress.
That brought waves of laughter from the audience, but not nearly as much as an exchange later in the show, when Winfrey noted, "You've said many times that Sean Penn was the love of your life."
"My daughter's the love of my life now," responded Madonna. "And I was just wondering: When are you and Steadman [Graham, Winfrey's boyfriend] getting married?"
"OK," said Winfrey as the audience tittered. "About the same time you and Carlos do."
Big applause. "Hey, we could have a double wedding," laughed Madonna. "Cool!"
Neither woman, it turns out, plans on getting married any time soon.
But both hate being asked that question -- and hate even more the tabloid press that insists on asking.
Madonna described what it was like after TV crews set up camp outside her home in Los Angeles. "That made me sick," she said. "I accept it when I walk outside my gates and go into the world. I don't like it, but I accept it.
"But when I'm in my house and I'm being filmed, when I'm standing at the door to get the newspaper and I'm being filmed, I feel incredibly violated. Because I feel like there has to be one place in the world where I have my privacy."
She also said that negative press still hurts her feelings, adding that it amazes her that so many people would assume she has no feelings to hurt.
"I think probably the biggest misunderstanding people have of me is what people have of most celebrities," she said.
"And that is that we aren't human beings and that it's OK to say the things that people say because we won't feel them, because we don't have feelings.
"I think that sort of covers everything. Because if people did think of me as a human being, and did think of me as a person who had feelings, I don't think people would say or assume a lot of the things that they do."
Pub Date: 12/14/96