Madonna to Cut W.E. in Attempt to Salvage Awards Hopes

So there's good news and bad news about Madonna's W.E., whose Venice/Toronto festival coming-out parties made more of a splash for the Material Girl's attitude toward hydrangeas than for being the type of classy, prestigious filmmaking breakthrough its principals had anticipated. Critics, including Movieline's own Stephanie Zacharek, were cool toward W.E. at best, with some beating it apart like a glossy piñata. That's the bad news. The good news is that we know what that calls for, especially with Harvey Weinstein at the domestic-distribution reins: Recut!

Dueling reports from The Daily Mail and Page Six (grains of salt at the ready, but still) place W.E. squarely in the scissors' path ahead of its Dec. 9 release. One unnamed "executive" told the Mail, "We see shots of a lot of corridors, so they can go, and other scenes can be trimmed," while sources talking to Page Six -- an outlet historically hardwired with a direct line to Weinstein HQ -- were a little more reserved, explaining that negotiations with Madonna over what to cut (some estimates say as much as 10 minutes of footage from the festival version could find the cutting-room floor) are "delicate," adding diplomatically, "Madonna can make any changes she wants."

We'll see. She might consider the input of The Guardian's Xan Brooks, one of W.E. harshest critics who nevertheless today offered five suggestions for salvaging the film before the crucial awards-season push. How about, say, a horror film? Or -- my own preference -- a Madonna mash-up?

Madonna admits that she made the film because she "identifies" with Wallis. Why not drum this home by peppering the tale with her own back catalog? "Who's That Girl" as Edward catches his first glimpse of Wallis; "Causing a Commotion" when she sparks a constitutional crisis; "Crazy for You" on the wedding day; and the irrepressible "Holiday" for the subsequent honeymoon in Nazi Germany.

Winner. In any event, Madonna has a little more than a month before she has to take W.E. back on the fest circuit, with an Oct. 23 date at the BFI London Film Festival. "For God's sake, I hope it's over with soon!" she told the Mail's Baz Bamigboye. Don't. We. All. Pray for her.

· A makeover for Madonna's movie about Wallis Simpson's affair with the king? [Daily Mail]

· Madge flick facing scissors [Page Six]

[Photo: Getty Images]