Bette Midler — Tony Snubbed Her, But Audiences Proved Her Box Office Power!
By Liz Smith
Posted: 06/03/2013 10:00 am
“Terrible is the temptation to do good,” wrote Bertolt Brecht.
Oh, fap, to the Tony Awards, the great Bette Midler must have said at the end of last week. Although she didn’t get nominated for her performance in the one-woman play by John Logan — I’ll Eat You Last — the divine one scored twice in one 48 hour period.
The box office powerhouse that is Bette, always under-estimated by everybody except her devoted audiences, recouped her show’s $2.4 million capitalization after only eight weeks on Broadway.
(She is “sold out” of tickets through her closing date of June 30, unless she should decide to extend.)
This turned out to be the perfect beautiful Manhattan spot for such a party which offered as “entertainment” only the joy of seeing Bette gyrate in person and make a few wisecracks, hearing her emcee Judy Gold try to top her, readings of two poems — and the rest of it was raising gobs of money by inference and auction. (Usually this is about as much fun as going to the dentist, but in this case it was hilarious because it succeeded so well and went so fast.) This beautify New York fabulous project has planted 745,000 trees in the city, tried to replace those lost in Hurricane Sandy and on this night, earned itself $1,200,000.
The stars of this “show” were two guys, not Bette. Between them they raised $500,000 in a matter of minutes, and I do mean Sotheby’s adroit auctioneer Hugh Hildesley and NYC’s very own Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
On his way out of office, the Mayor is more ubiquitous and outspoken than ever. When the auction showed a moment’s hesitation, Mike jumped up again to his feet and excoriated the seated who were noshing away on Glorious Foods. They stopped eating and promptly donated more money till he seemed to be satisfied and went back to his seat by Diana Taylor.
Meanwhile, actress Parker Posey of those hot Christopher Guest movies and fashion’s first gentleman, Tim Gunn, read two short poems, adding a little class, and stars Bernadette Peters and Katie Couric circulated, making friends. Michael Kors, seldom seen by the cognoscenti, also lent his star fashion presence, as well as philanthropist Ann Ziff, singer Roseanne Cash, decorator Mica Ertegun, and the theater’s Enid Nemy and Margo and Jimmy Nederlander. The co-chairs, Cynthia and Dan Lufkin couldn’t be present but sent along their best!
I like Bette’s project almost as much as I like my own pet charities, and I was happy to see this beautiful outdoor picnic succeed under the guiding hands of Buckley Hall, where Linda and Anita are more like mother hens than money-making organizers and party-givers.