BootLeg Betty

Director William Friedkin On Bette Midler

William Friedkin on New Technology, the ‘Exorcist’ Curse, and the McConnaissance
Posted April 25th, 2014 5:00PM by Gary Susman


Speaking of TV, you’re part of the current migration of top-notch film directors to television.

I’m going to be doing a film about Mae West starring Bette Midler. We’re doing that for HBO. It probably could not be done as a feature film. It’ll be set during one short period in the roaring ’20s. Doug McGrath is writing it, he’s a great screenwriter. I like this Mae West idea very much because she’s an extraordinary character, and I would only do it with Bette Midler. And I like the people at HBO.

It sounds like a follow-up to your early feature about burlesque, “The Night They Raided Minsky’s.”

Yes, it draws on the same period and the same world, but a totally different life.

In the old days, this would be a movie, but now it’s for high-end television. There’s a lot of great stuff being done in that medium. You have directors of the quality of David Fincher and others who are working for television now, whether you call it cable, streaming, or whatever. They have fewer, if any, real limitations. I’m happy to do this for HBO because I don’t know what the audience would be for one of the major film companies.

The only thing I’m conscious of that the major studios are doing are these superhero films, about comic book characters, and that’s about it. That’s the life’s blood of the major studios today, and they’re doing well with it.

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