It seemed like New Year's Eve as thousands of people filled Times Square to get a glimpse of Madonna at the premiere of her new film, "Who's That Girl."
"I'm awe-struck," the 28-year-old performer told a throng of fans in a brief address from a platform erected on a traffic island in Times Square, where the film was screened Thursday night for an invited audience of 1,000 at Broadway's National Theater. The film was released by Warner Bros. Friday in 1,000 theaters nationwide.
It's difficult to find even a street person in Times Square on a usual humid August evening in New York, but the crowd was estimated by police at 10,000, and more than 100 police--on foot and on horseback--were required to maintain order among the fans, many of whom had lined up at barricades hours before the scheduled 7 p.m. premiere.
The sentiments of several in the front lines, most of whom seemed to be in their late teens and early 20s, were expressed by Caroline McMurty, 17, of Queens, who said of Madonna: "She's great. . . . I'd like to be just like her!"
Such celebrities as Gregory Hines, Little Steven and Griffin Dunne, who co-stars with Madonna in the film, were greeted with polite shouts from the crowd, but just as the excitement builds to a crescendo at the annual New Year's Eve ritual in Times Square, the clamor peaked at the first appearance of "That Girl" whom her fans had come to see.
With her hair bobbed and wearing a low-cut, low-backed sequined evening gown, Madonna looked more like a movie star than a rock star. She had flown in from Cleveland, her latest stop on a sold-out national concert tour, and arrived an hour late.
The premiere was orchestrated by Warners and local pop-music radio station WHTZ-FM, according to a studio official. The station played Madonna's most popular songs throughout the day Thursday and announced that she would be present for the premiere. The station also provided tickets to many of the 1,000 guests inside the theater, plus the Madonna posters and WHTZ caps that could be spotted throughout the sea of fans outside.
Acknowledging that the press was not invited, to screen or review "Who's That Girl" in advance of Friday's release, the Warners official said "the whole idea was to create excitement around the premiere."