What Does It Take To Get 25 Minutes Of Madonna’s Time?

Last night Madonna played an intimate set and followed it up by chatting with our very own John Norris. MTV’s Deanna Caligiuri reports on what went into setting up an interview worthy of the inimitable Ms. Ciccone.

Often when you work here, you will find yourself saying one of two things:

1) This is why I love my job.
2) What is this crazy circus that I have elected to be a part of to pay the bills?

Last night, I was saying both. We entered the Roseland Ballroom through the backdoors at around 9:30 p.m. to get set up for the Madonna promo concert — and our exclusive interview with Madonna and Justin Timberlake together.

Lines of fans — some there since Monday — huddled in anticipation around the block. As we beelined for our interview space, the typical frenzy that occurs backstage was in full effect: eccentric dancers stretching and running around half-naked, wardrobe people steaming clothes, makeup artists adding their final layers to talent, groups of socialites and socialite-wannabes gathering in the hallways. The room where we were to hold our interview was a makeshift office for Madonna’s production manager. There were holes in the windows, overflowing garbage cans, an inch of dust on the fake plants and horribly mismatched tapestry on the walls.

Was MTV News able to pull the room together before Madonna’s grand entrance? (Plus, pictures from the concert!)

After the show — and two hours of managing to turn the office into a suitable interview space — the crew scrambled to get the last-minute details in place. The pressure was rising. Publicists ran in and out. We hunted down a Diet Coke for John Norris. Madonna’s manager and production staff were surveying the room when the countdown began: Publicist Liz Rosenberg said, “Eight minutes!”

After, um, exactly eight minutes, in came the staff of people needed to make our 20-minute interview happen: managers, publicists, makeup artists, hair stylists, photographers, label reps and venue reps.

Madonna walked in — an overwhelming presence despite her soft-spoken voice — and gave John a kiss. She sat down, and people began fussing all around her — primping her hair, wiring her audio, adjusting the lighting, etc. The makeup artist kept asking our cameraman to pull the shot out, because we were in too close on Madonna’s face. The singer joked about her undergarments, spread her legs a few times and was having a coy exchange with John when Justin walked in. The two seemed to have known each other for years, having established an incredible rapport in very little time.

Throughout the interview, Madonna suggested that John had not been paying attention to the lyrics of her songs, both old and new. (Liz later told him that Madonna only gives people she likes a hard time.) The interview was relaxed and personal and as natural as could be given the circumstances. After 25 minutes, the plug was pulled, and Madonna let it be known that she and Justin had a party to attend. In less than a minute, the circus of people was gone, leaving a half-empty room and some extensive equipment to break down.

Be sure to check out mtvnews.com in the coming days to hear more about our chat with Madonna.