BootLeg Betty

Could Bette Be The Next Dolly Levi?

New York Post
The divine Miss Levi?
By MICHAEL RIEDEL
Last Updated: 7:22 AM, May 29, 2013
Posted: 10:39 PM, May 28, 2013

People - Bette Midler in Las Vegas, Diva

Hello, Bette!

Although the Tony nominators gave her a poke in the eye, most of Broadway loves Bette Midler in “I’ll Eat You Last” and is delighted she’s back on the legitimate stage after an absence of 35 years.

So what should she do next?

The Nederlanders, who own several Broadway theaters, have long wanted her to star in a revival of Jerry Herman’s “Hello, Dolly!”

And they aren’t the only ones.

On a recent installment of “Theater Talk,” which I co-host on Channel 13/WNET, Peter Marks, the influential drama critic for the Washington Post, also suggested Bette “put on her Sunday clothes” and take a stab at the role that made Carol Channing famous in 1964.

Bette Midler, back on Broadway again, is everyone’s choice for a future revival of “Hello, Dolly!”

The 1964 original made a star of Carol Channing (above), with David Burns.
“Wouldn’t you love to see her do ‘Hello, Dolly!’ ”? Marks asked his colleagues, Ben Brantley of the Times and Joan Rivers of the Beverly Hills Courier (yes — the Joan Rivers).

“Yes! In a hot minute!” Rivers said.

“That would be fabulous,” Brantley added.

“And it would sell like crazy,” Marks said. “I just saw it in Washington, and it’s a tight show. It’s a lot better than your memory of it being a sort of schlocky show. And she would bring something completely different to it.”

Now let me see.

The Nederlanders are willing to put up the money and give her a theater. And three of the most powerful critics on the planet — Joan’s readers in Beverly Hills pay premium prices! — are on the record enthusiastically endorsing the idea.

Sounds to me like something she should consider.

“Sure — it would be great, but good luck getting her,” says a veteran Broadway producer. The Nederlanders have approached her a number of times in the past, but she’s always turned them down.

She didn’t, I’m told, want to return to Broadway and have to carry a $12 million revival on her back. “That would be work,” an insider says. “And she’d have to negotiate the staircase.”

But now that she’s got her feet wet with “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers,” a fun but slight play, sources say she’s ready to tackle something more ambitious the next time out.

And consider this: If the revival’s halfway decent, there’s no way she’d go home without a Tony nomination.

Who would dare snub the Divine Miss M in a musical?

So think it through, Bette, and give me a call when you’ve decided. I’ll make the announcement.

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