Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Quebec companies team up with pop icon Madonna for Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is still two months away but two Montreal companies have already scored a touchdown, partnering with pop icon Madonna to create the half-time show.

World-renowned Cirque du Soleil and multimedia show producer Moment Factory are working with the Material Girl to craft an eye-popping spectacle for the Feb. 5 gridiron showdown in Indianapolis.

It's no easy trick -- Super Bowl half-time shows can generate as much buzz as the game. Just ask Janet Jackson, whose appearance helped to make the phrase "wardrobe malfunction" part of the language.

"This is one very, very challenging project for us," says Eric Fournier, the executive producer at Moment Factory. "You've got to make sure everything works perfectly."

But don't be singing Like A Virgin when it comes to his company or the Cirque's handling of these types of events.


Moment Factory has worked on Celine Dion's recent Las Vegas show and with Arcade Fire. It staged spectacles at the Vancouver Olympics, to name just some of its efforts.

The Cirque, of course, long ago redefined the traditional circus.
All that being said, there is no question there is one boss on this job.
"Madonna is the leader," says Jacques Methe, the Cirque executive producer in charge of special events.

"What we're doing there is contributing to the creative process that will lead to the creation of this very special moment," he said in a telephone interview from Las Vegas. "For us, it's an interesting opportunity. It's not something that we do very often, working with other stars."

The collaboration came about after Madonna was asked to follow in the footsteps of such performers as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney and U2 to perform the half-time show.
Her longtime choreographer and creative director Jamie King, who recently directed the Cirque's "Michael Jackson: The Immortal Tour," suggested bringing the Cirque in. They brought Moment Factory, one of their longtime collaborators, on board.

While he hasn't spoken to Madonna himself, Fournier said he's heard from members of his team that she's heavily involved in the planning.
"From what I get, she's a very rigorous and very professional person. Very cool to work with," he said.
Methe said the Cirque is more involved in the creative side of the half-hour show at Lucas Oil Stadium than the delivery but it's still challenging to do logistically.

He's not concerned, saying the Cirque put together a nine-minute pre-game extravaganza at the Super Bowl about five years ago.
"We have experience with the NFL and they're very, very, very good at managing these kinds of things," he said. "They know how to build a crazy stage in six minutes."

Neither he nor Fournier would give any hints about what form the show might take, leaving it at the fact that Madonna is the star.

"Our work has been done mostly to help magnify and create an environment for the artists," Fournier said, citing other shows his firm has worked on, employing lighting tricks and video projections for special effects.
He agreed that Montreal companies being picked to work with Madonna on the Super Bowl is a feather in the cap for the city, which he said has strong music, film, performing arts and video-game sectors.

"We have in Montreal all the talent necessary for these kinds of things," he said.

Asked if he's a Madonna fan, Fournier laughed.
"Yeah," he said. "Who's not?"