BetteBack Interview: Divine Miss M revives musical

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, the first made-for-TV version of the classic Broadway show a b o ut the
l i fe of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee.
Midler will star as Mama Rose, the l egenda ry stage mother f r om hell, in the three-hour CBS movie scheduled for broadcast t h is Christmas.

The Divine Miss M has had more success than most in t r y i ng to please audiences wi th what ma ny regard as an outdated form of e n t e r t a i nme n t.
She was nomina t ed for an Oscar for her starring role in the 1991 big-screen musical, For The Boys.

Midler also got an Academy Award nomination and more commercial success in 1979 when she played a drugged-out rock star in The Rose.
“Musicals f lourished on television in the ’50s and ’60s,” Midler said wh en asked if the
mus i c al is a d y i ng breed.

” It wa sn’t u n t il popul ar mus ic took a t u rn towa rds rock ‘n’ roll in the early 70s t h at mus i c al v a r i e ty shows bit the dus t. But I’ve always f e lt it was a viable formul a .”

Midler, who slips in and out of the voice of Miss M, said it can’t be assumed audiences weren’t ready for For The Boys j u st because it produced poor box o f f i ce receipts.
Classic script

“The p u b l ic was completely ready for it, they j u st d i d n ‘t come to see it,”
she quipped. “They had other t h i n gs to do. They were barbecuing that weekend. They couldn’t get away.”

Gypsy, which co-stars Ed Asner as f a t h er to Midler’s Rose, is a big-budget production made for television wi th all the costly 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 of actors and the f u ll compl ement of studio musicians. No
t h i ng was skimped on, except my salary,” she said.

Mi d l e r, Asner and crew rehearsed for seven weeks and t h en shot l e n g t hy scenes as
t h o u gh t h ey were p e r f o rmi ng a play, she said.

Exe cut ive producer Craig Zadan said the f i lm ma r ks the f i r st t ime a producer has ever shot a play script for a movie, let a lone t e l evi s ion, wi thout a l t e r i ng it.

“It’s the classic Gypsy,” he said. “It’s the same script as the playand the same score as the play.”

Midler says she had a moment a ry shiver s t a n d i ng in the shadow of Ethel Me rman, who played Rose in the original 1959 Broadway show.

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