Desperately Seeking Would-Be Madonnas


Many swore that they have never been Madonna wanna-bes.

But more than 250 hopefuls dressed like the sensational and sometimes foulmouthed pop singer and waited in line outside a Burbank casting agency Thursday for the opportunity of a lifetime: playing Madonna in a two-hour television movie about her early career.

Several television and newspaper reporters were on hand at the casting call, giving the aspiring actresses a taste of what being a celebrity is all about.

“We’re not used to all this media, but I’m getting used to it,” said Andrea Schurgin, 24, of Burbank, who brought her own microphone and a pair of backup singers, Naomi Okabe and Alyssa Romano.


The three friends spent $50 for matching stockings, hair ribbons and rubber bracelets such as the ones Madonna wore in her “Lucky Star” video. They practiced lip-syncing and twirling for three hours in front of a living room mirror Wednesday night.

Others, such as Denise Vlasis of Sherman Oaks, came with considerably more experience. She is a professional Madonna impersonator who earns more than $200 an hour.

Inside the Katy & Co. casting agency, the hopefuls performed 30-second dance routines and read from a script in front of a casting director and the producers of “Madonna: The Early Years.”

The film is set to begin shooting this month and will air on the Fox network in the fall. It chronicles Madonna’s life as a struggling artist in 1978 to the success of her “Like a Virgin” album in 1984.

“It opens with a girl from Detroit who came to New York with $37 and was so broke she was eating out of garbage cans and squatting in abandoned buildings,” said Michael Murray, the movie’s scriptwriter.

“The early part of her career is the least examined and, in some ways, the most interesting,” he added. “She was a street urchin who turned herself into a superstar.”