OSCAR-winning movie maker John Schlesinger criticised MADONNA - the star of his movie The Next Best Thing for her constant influence over his final directing opus.

The late Schlesinger, who directed Madonna and Rupert Everett in the flop 2000 romantic comedy - wrote in a number of recently-released letters about how he felt the singer's attempts to change scenes, contributed to his heart-attack.

Schlesinger wrote, "I am f**king angry with TOM (ROSENBERG, film's producer) being influenced by Madonna.

"We have tried all of these changes before. I do not for one moment think that their behaviour has not added to the reasons I have ended up here."

Madonna lobbied for the removal of a pivotal scene which she felt was too "gay" - much to the distress of homosexual Schlesinger, who dictated a furious letter to Rosenberg from his hospital bed.

He wrote, "I am outraged that Madonna is starting to express an opinion of what works and what doesn't;t and what is too gay when she wasn't even present at the previews.

"In any case, she is not the director; so far as I am concerned I want the scene to remain as it is."

Schlesinger was discharged from hospital in January 2000. He died last July (25JUL03) at the age of 77.

11/07/2004 14:29