Houston‘s Brilliant Lecture Series motivates and inspires audiences by bringing in national and international leaders, roles models, philanthropists, artists, humanitarians, authors, and entrepreneurs to talk with Houston audiences. Earlier this week, the acclaimed series along with Tenenbaum & Co. Classic Jeweler and Lynn Wyatt presented an unforgettable experience for audiences: A CONVERSATION WITH BETTE MIDLER. Gifting Houstonians with an hour of her time, the incomparable Bette Midler discussed her life as an entertainer and philanthropist.
Roula Christie, of Houston’s 104.1 KRBE‘s The Roula and Ryan Show, moderated the conversation. When Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black, co-owners of Tenenbaum & Co. Classic Jeweler, first introduced her she admitted to the audience that her nerves would be high. Honestly though, sitting down to interview Bette Midler, whose nerves wouldn’t be? Most of the questions Roula Christie prepared for the conversation were excellent. Completely star-struck, her largest gaffe was occasionally talking over Bette Midler.
Talking about her multifaceted career and her non-profit organization, the New York Resotration Project, Bette Midler put the brilliant in Brilliant Lecture Series and the divine in The Divine Miss M. With total candor and a sharp wit, Bette Midler’s answers to the questions made the expansive Brown Theater at the Wortham Theater Center feel like the large audiences was in her comfy living room and that each and every one of us had been invited over to chat with a close pal. She offered insight into her Hollywood career, casually informing us that the role of Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence was written for her; however, she turned it down, telling her husband “My fans don’t want to see me in a wimple.” Following that train of thought, she also mentioned how she turned down the role of Annie Wilkes in Misery exclaiming, “My fans don’t want to see me cut off a man’s leg wearing a wimple!”
Yet, it was Bette Midler’s candid discussion of the internet and social media that profoundly affected me the most. Spending my days in a junior high classroom and teaching writing, her quick mentions of bullying and the power of words really stirred my thoughts. She explained to audiences that she hasn’t read a review since 1972 because of how cruel writers can be. She also revealed that on occasion she has slipped and read the responses to her tweets on Twitter, and became discouraged and hurt by the negativity of people on the internet. Without hesitation she touched on the fact that this type of negativity and hate has caused children to commit suicide all over our country.
In every way imaginable, Bette Midler is a true role-model. She earned her stardom because of an indefatigable work ethic. She may have started out chasing the dreams of dramatic acting and later discovering her niche was comedy and singing, but she never stopped working. Despite her fame, like each of us, she is affected by the words generated about her. For even briefly sharing the impact words can have, I can only applaud Bette Midler.
Another aspect of her conversation that was truly poignant was how supportive she was of other female artists. For a Houston audience, BeyoncÃ© Knowles is true royalty. To hear Bette Midler gush about getting to see her concert and meet Queen Bey at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn filled this audience with pride. Then, for Bette Midler to perform the iconic “Single Ladies” dance while lauding BeyoncÃ© for her energetic dancing while singing made the auditorium erupt in cheers. With beaming smiles, everyone in attendance couldn’t get enough of Bette Midler’s love and admiration for our own hometown hero.
Lastly, a true highlight of the evening was hearing Bette Midler sing pieces of “Otto Titsling” and “Oh Industry” from the film Beaches. She shared that her music-writing career was a short one, and used these songs, especially “Oh Industry,” as proof why. However, I contend that “Oh Industry” is one of the best songs in the film Beaches. While Bette Midler may never read this, I’d like to point out to the Divine Miss M that in spite of her husband still picking on her for that song, I have always loved the poetry of the lyrics in that piece. I personally welcome Bette Midler to step back into writing music at any time.
Houston has a lot to be thankful for when it comes to inspired live event programming, and the Brilliant Lecture Series is another jewel in our city’s crown. Using their resources to bring in people like Bette Midler, Betty White, Sir Sidney Poitier, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Diana Ross, Dr. Maya Angelou, George Clooney, Professor Stephen Hawking, President Mikhail Gorbachev, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, and others, this organization brings the best of the best to Houston and lets us get to experience and know these impressive and important individuals on an intimate and personal level through these fabulous conversations.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out their website at http://www.brilliantlectures.org and book tickets to their upcoming events. Next, they are hosting an evening with Marcus Luttrell, author of Lone Survivor and a decorated Navy SEAL, on May 14, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. Following that they are presenting KING MICHAEL: A GLORIOUS TRIBUTE TO THE KING OF POP on Saturday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m.