Madonna And William Orbit Take Another Spin In Studio

Grammy-winning partners working on new music; diva may tour in summer.

Madonna has reteamed with producer William Orbit for a possible follow-up

to her Grammy-winning, multiplatinum 1998 album Ray of Light,

according to the singer's spokesperson.

"They've been in a New York studio writing and recording new material,

but it's not clear yet if it's for a soundtrack or her next album,"

spokesperson Liz Rosenberg said.

Madonna also is helping to compile songs for the soundtrack of the upcoming

film "The Next Best Thing," in which she stars. None of those songs has

been announced yet, although at least one of the new Madonna/Orbit songs

will likely appear on the soundtrack, according to Rosenberg.

If the sessions lead to a Madonna album, it probably won't be released

before the spring, Rosenberg said.

"The Next Big Thing" is being directed by John Schlesinger ("Midnight

Cowboy") and also stars Rupert Everett ("My Best Friend's Wedding") and

Benjamin Bratt (formerly of "Law & Order"). It is tentatively scheduled

for a spring release.

Orbit and Madonna won a Best Pop Album Grammy for Ray of Light

and worked together again on the hit single "Beautiful Stranger"

(RealAudio

excerpt), from the soundtrack to "Austin Powers: The Spy Who

Shagged Me." The two have been in the studio for a month working on the

new material.

Rosenberg also said Madonna might mount an extensive tour in the summer

— what would be her first such outing since the 1990 Blond Ambition

tour. In March, just two months after announcing plans to launch a fall

Ray of Light tour, Rosenberg's office said scheduling conflicts

derailed the outing. No other information regarding a potential tour was

available at press time, Rosenberg said.

Madonna also toured in 1993, but her Girlie Show production that year

included only five dates.

Orbit is tentatively scheduled to release an album titled Pieces in

a Modern Style Jan. 25 on Madonna's Maverick Records. The disc will

contain reworked instrumental versions of classical compositions by Antonio

Vivaldi, George Frideric Handel, Maurice Ravel and Ludwig van Beethoven

performed "with technology" as opposed to standard musical instruments,

according to Maverick.

"The Next Best Thing" is about a love triangle involving a woman and a

gay man, played by Madonna and Everett, who conceive a child together,

and another man the woman is pursuing.

Platinum-selling rapper Busta Rhymes has said Madonna is also serving as executive producer of a short HBO film in which he will appear. The film is "about artists in different genres that Madonna hand-picked to write from their point of view," he said. No additional information was available on the project at press time.