Inquirer Entertainment / Entertainment
ONLY IN HOLLYWOOD
Only in Hollywood : Bette Midler loves Cebu inmates’ ”˜Thriller’
By Ruben V. Nepales
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: July 31, 2010
LOS ANGELES ”“ Even Bette Midler, the Divine Miss M, was captivated by the viral video featuring Cebu prison inmates dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
Bette, asked in a recent interview at the InterContinental Hotel how she thinks the Internet has changed the entertainment industry, answered: “YouTube is an extraordinary resource. You can see the best and worst amateurs. You can see creative people, who normally don’t have a shot, suddenly get a shot. You can also see the finest professionals in any of the entertainment arenas. You can see 2,000 prisoners doing ”˜Thriller.’ It’s a library of information.”
Later in our chat, the Honolulu native told me that she was amazed at the sight of the prisoners executing mass precision choreography.
The Golden Globe- and Grammy-winning singer-actress is blonde these days, still delightfully sassy at 64. She looks good ”“ she stressed that she takes good care of herself, in addition to being blessed with good genes. She still has those smiling eyes that make you think what bawdy things are running through her mind, or what naughty jokes are about to come out of her mouth.
Amazingly, it has been over three decades since she electrified moviegoers with her portrayal of a self-destructive rock star a la Janis Joplin in “The Rose.”
Now she’s the voice of the title character in “Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore,” a live action comedy which blends actual dogs and cats with art puppetry and CGI work.
Kitty Galore is an Egyptian Sphynx who wants to rule the world so cats, dogs and humans unite against the creepy feline.
Toward the end of the interview, a Sphynx named Mesa, who plays Kitty Galore in the movie, joined the actress. The hairless animal is truly a creepy creature, looking like a cat that has been shaved, its ribs showing.
In the following excerpts from our interview, Bette reveals that Sophie, her daughter with her husband, artist Martin Von Haselberg, aspires to be an actress. She also admitted that her two-year run at the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, in which she alternated with Cher and performed in a total of 200 shows, left her exhausted.
How much fun did you have being the voice of Kitty Galore?
It was a little bit lonely because you work with a screen and there are no other actors in the room. But it was fun because my character gets to do things you don’t get to do in real life. She’s beautifully drawn. The interesting thing is the way they handled the character ”“ they used a robot, a real cat, and drawings.
Are you a dog or a cat person?
I like dogs a lot. I understand a cat. There’s a lot of cat in my nature. I’m very independent. I try not to follow the crowds. I try not to be as hostile as cats but sometimes I can’t help myself. I inherited my daughter’s dog so I had a great relationship with her. She was a great creature and she opened my eyes to the animal world because I know she had a soul. I guess I’m on my way to becoming a vegetarian any minute now.
What makes you purr and what gets the claws out?
Laughing makes me purr. I really like to laugh and I like to be in a safe, beautiful environment like most people do. Injustice and recklessness with the environment get the claws out ”“ that really upsets me.
What’s next for you?
I did two years in Las Vegas. It was really hard work. It was very intense. I was very tired at the end. I just want to feel right again.
Did you ever miss a performance in that Las Vegas show?
At the end, the ushers and the crew gave me the perfect attendance report. I was the first act who never missed a single show. It was hilarious. They went to the dime store and bought a little plastic award. They all came around and we had champagne.
Where does your work ethic come from?
It all comes from your folks ”“ your upbringing. It’s the moral thing and I never got sick. I really took care of myself. Tom Jones gave me a clue when I first got to Las Vegas. He told me what to do in order not to lose my voice. I never did.
What was the clue?
The clue was a lozenge called Vocalzone. It’s made in Great Britain and formulated for Enrico Caruso. It’s sold only in London.
You were named after Bette Davis. Do you feel a kinship with her?
I wouldn’t say her spirit is protecting me. She wasn’t very nice (laughter). But she was a great actress. I think her whole life was devoted to that. She made so many brilliant movies.
You’re also famous for your quotes.
You once said, “I married a German. Every night, I dress up as Poland and he invades me.”
How’s that husband?
I’ve been married to my husband for 25 years. There are no more surprises. He’s a great guy. He is a fine artist. He paints and does photography. He’s one of the great guys. We have a daughter who is 23 and is in show business.
Is it just you and your husband now that your daughter is all grown up?
Sophie graduated from college. She learned Mandarin and went to work for an ad agency in China. And then she said she would go into show business. So I said, “Oh, okay.” Now she’s interning with a group that allows kids to learn about the theater and the business. She found something that she really loves to do.
What do you and your husband like to do in your free time?
We mostly eat and travel. We take serious vacations because we never vacationed before.
You obviously have a lot of energy at a time when people are losing theirs.
I’m genetically wired for it. I’m a big believer in exercise. My husband does Tai Chi every single day. You should see him, he’s rock solid. He looks like a kid.
I do Pilates and yoga. I do Tai Chi when I can remember to do it or when my husband says, “You got to do it.” I also run. Yoga is really good. Standing on your head is the key. Getting blood to your brain is really important. You think a lot better after you’ve stood on your head for a couple of minutes. I am not lying. That’s how I got pregnant, in fact. I still remember.
Who do you listen to these days?
I love Beyonce. I listen to pop women because I find them very interesting. Beyonce does stuff that no one can do. Pink is hanging from a thing. It’s unbelievable what these girls do. They are very creative. The men, not so much.
It has been 31 years since “The Rose” came out. What does the film mean to you today?
I think it’s one of the best rock movies, if not the best rock-and-roll movie made. It’s very accurate, moving. The music is great. It still holds up.
I took a different trajectory. Things happened to me personally and privately that didn’t allow me to continue along that path that I was on. In hindsight, there were mistakes I made that I regret. But there’s no time to regret. You just have to keep on going.
Cats have nine lives, as the saying goes. What life number are you in now?
I think I’m in number 8.