Winnipeg Free Press
Divine Miss M revives musical
July 24, 1993
LOS ANGELES–The outrageous Bette Midler wants to revive big-production musicals as the star of Gypsy, theÂ first made-for-TV version of theÂ classic Broadway show a b o ut the
l i fe of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee.
Midler will star as Mama Rose, theÂ l egenda ry stage mother f r om hell, inÂ the three-hour CBS movieÂ scheduled for broadcast t h isÂ Christmas.
The Divine Miss M has had moreÂ success than most in t r y i ng to pleaseÂ audiences wi th what ma ny regard asÂ an outdated form of e n t e r t a i nme n t.
She was nomina t ed for an OscarÂ for her starring role in the 1991Â big-screen musical, For The Boys.
Midler also got an Academy AwardÂ nomination and more commercialÂ success in 1979 when she played a drugged-out rock star in The Rose.
“Musicals f lourished on televisionÂ in the ’50s and ’60s,” Midler saidÂ wh en asked if the
mus i c al is a d y i ngÂ breed.
” It wa sn’t u n t il popul ar mus ic tookÂ a t u rn towa rds rock ‘n’ roll in theÂ early 70s t h at mus i c al v a r i e tyÂ shows bit the dus t. But I’ve alwaysÂ f e lt it was a viable formul a .”
Midler, who slips in and out of theÂ voice of Miss M, said it can’t beÂ assumed audiences weren’t readyÂ for For The Boys j u st because itÂ produced poor box o f f i ce receipts.
“The p u b l ic was completely readyÂ for it, they j u st d i d n ‘t come to see it,”
she quipped. “They had other t h i n gsÂ to do. They were barbecuing thatÂ weekend. They couldn’t get away.”
Gypsy, which co-stars Ed Asner asÂ f a t h er to Midler’s Rose, is a big-budget production made forÂ television wi th all the costlyÂ t r i m m i n gs of f e a ture f i l m s, she said.
“It had the f u ll compl ement ofÂ actors and the f u ll compl ement ofÂ studio musicians. No
t h i ng wasÂ skimped on, except my salary,” sheÂ said.
Mi d l e r, Asner and crew rehearsedÂ for seven weeks and t h en shotÂ l e n g t hy scenes as
t h o u gh t h ey wereÂ p e r f o rmi ng a play, she said.
Exe cut ive producer Craig ZadanÂ said the f i lm ma r ks the f i r st t ime aÂ producer has ever shot a play scriptÂ for a movie, let a lone t e l evi s ion,Â wi thout a l t e r i ng it.
“It’s the classic Gypsy,” he said.Â “It’s the same script as the playand the same score as the play.”
Midler says she had a moment a ryÂ shiver s t a n d i ng in the shadow ofÂ Ethel Me rman, who played Rose inÂ the original 1959 Broadway show.