Director: Madonna caused my heart attack

By WND Staff

Madonna has a bad attitude?

The Oscar-winning filmmaker who directed “Midnight Cowboy” and “Marathon Man” is blaming Madonna’s “outrageous” on-set behavior for contributing to his heart attack in 1999.

John Schlesinger, who died last July, made the comments in letters and production notes bequeathed to the British Film Institute.

Schlesinger was working with Madonna and film producer Tom Rosenberg on “The Next Best Thing,” which was released in 2000.

The London Sunday Telegraph reports the director became enraged by Madonna’s efforts to change numerous scenes, noting the pop-culture diva demanded special effects be used to “beautify” her appearance.

John Schlesinger

“I am f—ing angry with Tom being influenced by Madonna,” Schlesinger wrote from his hospital bed. “We have tried all of these changes before. … I do not for one moment think that their behaviour has not added to the reasons I have ended up here.”

His letters indicate Madonna, who recently said she’d like to be called Esther, tried to influence every aspect of the movie, from the music selection to the final cut.

The Telegraph says one unsigned memo suggests Madonna, then 41, wanted producers to “beautify” 34 shots of her with computer-generated effects pioneered in films like “Titanic” and “Jurassic Park.”

And though Madonna appeared naked in her 1992 book “Sex,” she apparently balked at the idea of being filmed in the nude for Schlesinger’s film.

“Madonna doesn’t want her bare arse to be seen,” said an unsigned memo.

The singer-actress also reportedly sought the removal of a scene which she felt was too “gay,” much to the disgust of Schlesinger, who was himself homosexual.

In a letter dictated on Nov. 30, 1999, Schlesinger said:

“I am outraged that Madonna is starting to express an opinion of what works and what doesn’t and what is too gay when she wasn’t even present at the previews. In any case, she is not the director; so far as I am concerned I want the scene to remain as it is.”

Liz Rosenberg, Madonna’s publicist, said last week she was surprised by Schlesinger’s remarks.

“People say many, many things about Madonna but no one has ever questioned her level of professional behavior,” she told the London paper. “I know Madonna had great respect for John Schlesinger as a director. I believe that John Schlesinger had control over this film and Madonna behaved as a salaried actress.”

“The Next Best Thing,” which cost $25 million to make, was a box-office and artistic disaster, collecting only $24 million worldwide.

Madonna’s performance was blasted by critics and earned her a “Golden Raspberry” award for worst actress.

Entertainment Weekly said that she could “barely muster even the rudiments of human expression” and urged her to “quit while she is behind.”