NEW YORK -- Madonna has joined Time Warner Inc. in forming a multimedia entertainment company that will make the Material Girl the highest paid female pop star in the world and czarina of an avant-garde arts 'think tank,' it was announced Monday.
The formation of Maverick, to be run by Madonna and her longtime manager, Freddy DeMann, was announced jointly by Time Warner Chairman Steven J. Ross, its president Gerald Levin, Madonna and DeMann. Although no amount of money was mentioned, the New York Times reported Madonna will get as much as $60 million in advance.
'Freddy and I, the Maverick staff, and Time-Warner divisions are dedicated to make this enterprise a vehicle to entertain as well as enlighten, provoke and, naturally, make a profit,' Madonna said. 'Maverick stands for the perfect marriage of art and commerce.'
In a recent interview, Madonna said her project would be a 'think tank' on the model of Germany's Bauhaus Institute that flourished between the world wars and the late Andy Warnhol's Factory of artists in New York. She said she planned a film biography of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, in which she would play Kahlo.
Edward Adler, a spokesman for Time Warner, said the 33-year-old pop star's association with the world's largest publishing-music- entertainment conglomerate will be for seven years and may be extended to 11 years.
He said no financial arrangements will be made public because it was Time-Warne's policy that 'figures not be given out.'
Adler said Maverick's artists will create a wide range of artistic and business endeavors utilizing all of Time Warner's divisions. The company will develop feature films, network TV speials, series, cable television and pay-per-view programs, music videos and books. It also will have a merchandizing division.
Maverick will be overseen and run by Madonna and DeMann. Maverick, will consist of a free-standing record company, a music publishing company, and will have television, film, merchandising and book publishing divisions. It will be headquartered in Los Angeles with offices in New York and London.
As part of this new agreement, Madonna has renegotiated and extended her exclusive recording agreement with Sire Records, for whom she made her first recording in 1982, according to the announcement. However, all her subsequent albums will be released through Maverick/Sire records.
Terms of the agreement with Sire also were not disclosed.
Madonna has generated sales in excess of $1.2 billion in the course of her 10-year career and has sold 150 million recordings. Maverick will give her and DeManna broad base from which to discover and bring to the public new talent in a variety of media, the announcement said.
The company will collaborate with Warner Bros. Records and its Sire Records label, Home Box Office, Warner Bros., Lorimar Television, Warner Books, and Warner/Chappell Music. Maverick will launch a fully staffed record company, Maverick Reords, and Madonna will record a new album for it this summer, to be released in the fall.
'Today's agreement with Madonna to form Maverick opens up a unique new era of artistic autonomy and creative freedom within a larger global corporate structure.' Ross and Levin said in a joint statement.
'The terms of the agreement are designed to provide Madonna with the greatest possible hands-on involvement in film, television programming, publishing and music. Only an artist with the talent and stature of Madonna can effectively utilize all facets of the emerging global media marketplace.'
Informed sources said the Maverick-Time Warner alliance was put together by Warner Bros. Records Chairman Mo Ostin and Sire Records President Seymour Stein, who signed Madonna to her first recording contract over 10 years ago.
Robert Morgado, chairman of the Warner Music Group, said the formation of Maverick is much more than a new Madonna contract.
'Her phenomenal past success coupled with her wonderful creative and entrepreneurial acumen gives us great confidence that Maverick will be a key component in the Warner Music Group's continued position of leadership in the '90s and beyond,' Morgado said.
Madonna has generated concert grosses and related merchandising revenues of more than $100 million during the course of her career. She has had nine No. 1 singles and 16 consecutive top five singles, more than any artist since Elvis Presley. Her records have sold more than 70 million copies worldwide.
Her 'Blond Ambition' HBO Special was the highest rated entertainment event in cable television history and her 'Truth or Dare' documentary grossed over $17 million, making it the second largest- grossing documentary in history.
Industry sources said Madonna's renegotiated recording contract with Sire will give the singer a $5 million advance for each of her next seven albums and a 20 percent royalty rate.
This royalty rate would be on a par with the deal Michael Jackson made with Sony last year, making him the highest paid artist in the music business.