Video: An Evening with Bette Midler, Cher, Olivia Newton-John, Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, 1990 (Complete)

Pop Review
Los Angeles Times
“Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet”
Some Singers Are Green, but Pitch Is Earnest
SEP. 14, 1990

Bette Midler & Olivia Newton-John

Friends Of The Environment

Goldie sings! And Meryl too, a little bit, though you were probably expecting that after the big musical finale of “Postcards From the Edge.”

Hawn and Streep spoke some, too, at Thursday night’s all-star benefit at the Greek, though not very much specifically about Proposition 128, the upcoming “Big Green” state initiative for which the show was ostensibly set to raise money and local awareness.

Since the evening was also being taped for airing Wednesday at 10 p.m. on ABC as a pro-environmentalism special, where it will be shorn of any specific references to the California ballot contest, the tone of the show was less akin to a political pep rally and more along the general lines of “The Earth Day Special–Part II.”

Among the sponsoring “Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet” were Bette Midler, Cher, Olivia Newton-John, Lily Tomlin, Streep and Hawn, with Robin Williams as the sole “other” on the lineup.

It was a better night for comedy than music, with Williams’ typically out-of-hand 20-minute rant–aimed at Hussein, Helms, Souter and right-to-lifers–the obvious highlight of a middle-of-the-road affair. About five-eighths of it was suitable for TV.

One of Williams’ impressions was of an ABC editor frantically at work, and the comedian kept fretting, with some palpability, about how the 7-year-old staring at him from the front row was throwing him off on the more risque portion of his act. “You’re going to go through puberty tonight, Tommy,” he promised.

The unintentional comedy of Cher’s final number was nearly as impressive. Though she carried herself with some dignity for most of her five-song set, the chuckles started coming during “Fire Down Below” when the diva was joined by seven chain-wearing dancers who gyrated, mostly unchoreographed, to what sounded like an uproarious parody of a metal guitar solo. Cher fared better earlier with “Many Rivers to Cross,” a soulful song that doesn’t lose its charm turned into a showy pop ballad.

Midler and Newton-John were big draws by virtue of the fact that they rarely grace a concert stage any more. Newton-John allowed that it had been eight years.

Midler, who brought a band, came off best in her old racy “Soph” persona with “Pretty Legs and Great Big Knockers,” but got the big applause for her ballads. Newton-John inevitably looked a little silly singing to accompaniment tapes–especially on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from her lullaby album. TV’s older demo’ll love it, though.

Equally mawkish, Hawn recited poetry (“I think that I shall never see . . . “) and crooned the Muppets’ “It’s Not Easy Being Green” in a somewhat more assured alto than you’d expect (but hold the record contract).

Streep followed with a good, earnest speech about environmentalism 10 years ago versus now–it’ll be remembered far better than her McCartney/Grammy one–and then was joined by the entire company for “What a Wonderful World,” to which she and Hawn both bravely contributed verses. It’s not easy being a green singer.

An Evening with Bette Midler, Cher, Olivia Newton John, Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, 1990

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