Category Archives: I’ll Eat You Last!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Book: I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers By John Logan – Bette Midler On Broadway

Book: I'll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers By John Logan - Bette Midler On Broadway

The debut 2013 American production starred Bette Midler. The play, which cost $2.4 million to produce, was a hit.

Playbill was joined by star Bette Midler and playwright John Logan on the opening night of the new one-person play I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers. The 80-minute show features Midler channeling the late great agent (she represented Burt Reynolds, Cher, Steve McQueen and Barbra Streisand amongst others) as she charts her path through the man’s world of Hollywood. Here, Midler talks about what Mengers means to her and Logan reveals what it took to convince Midler to return to Broadway after more than 30 years.
  • I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Menger
  • Written by: John Logan
  • Characters: Sue Mengers
  • Date premiered: 24 April 2013
  • Place premiered: Booth Theatre, New York
  • Original language: English
  • Subject: Sue Mengers, Hollywood
  • Genre: Biographical


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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: Bette Midler As Sue Mengers – Delicious!

Broadway World
BWW Reviews: Bette Midler a Triumphant Sue Mengers at the Geffen
December 6, 2013
by Don Grigware Read More

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Review: Bette Midler Gets It Right As Sue Mengers

Variety
Geffen Playhouse opens “I’ll Eat You Last”
Peter Bart
EVP and Editorial Director

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Sue Mengers, the late, great talent agent, would have loved attending the Geffen Theater Dec. 5 for the gala West Coast opening of “I’ll Eat You Last.” She would have relished the star presence (Bruce Willis, Dustin Hoffman, Helen Hunt) and reveled in the stellar performance of Bette Midler. Especially since Midler was portraying Mengers in a reprise of her triumphant Broadway performance.

At the Geffen the industry-centric audience wallowed in the inside jokes, the scatological gossip as well as the blitz of f-bombs. Seated imperially on her on-stage sofa, smoking incessantly, Midler artfully spun the Mengers war stories, revealing both her ferocity and the poignancy of her downfall when her banner clients from Streisand to Gene Hackman and Michael Caine and Ali MacGraw ditched her.

Mengers, the play written by John Logan reminds us, triggered her own demise by trying to be a bigger star than her clients. She lost Streisand by manipulating her into a dreadful film, “All Night Long,” directed by Mengers’ husband who, though a charming man, was not a director.

I personally had a soft spot for Mengers, often attending her parties which she cast carefully to help land roles for clients — the “right” director always was seated next to the “right” star for whom Mengers was trying to get a job. During the play, Midler relates her fierce campaigns to land Hackman the lead in “French Connection” and her chain of deceits in securing the lead for Faye Dunaway in “Chinatown.” She describes Elton John as her ideal dinner party guest “because he’ll eat anything — except pussy.”

I was personally appalled by some of Mengers’ bullying tactics as well as many of her judgments. Midler, as Mengers, characterizes Steve McQueen as a force of evil (I liked him). Praising Streisand’s star power, she nonetheless describes the star’s “genius” for picking the wrong material — making “Yentl” rather than “Cabaret,” for example.

Midler artfully captured Mengers’ ingratiating mannerisms and R-rated diatribes and deservedly brought the Hollywood crowd to its feet for a sustained ovation at the end of the show. The Geffen has a home run on its hands.

Bette Midler Gets It Right as Sue Mengers, Says Peter Bart
Barbra Streisand on Bette Midler’s performance as Sue Mengers
Midler wins raves on Broadway as Hollywood agent Sue Mengers
Theater Review: “…Midler proves that she can still be convincing as someone other than herself”

‘I’ll Eat You Last’ Sees Beth Midler At Her Very Best As The Witty And Cynical Sue Mengers Read More

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Barbra Streisand on Bette Midler’s performance as Sue Mengers

Los Angeles Times
Barbra Streisand on Bette Midler‘s performance as Sue Mengers
By David Ng
December 23, 2013, 11:41 a.m.

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The recent Los Angeles run of “I’ll Eat You Last,” starring Bette Midler as the late talent agent Sue Mengers, drew a fair number of Hollywood stars to the Geffen Playhouse — some of whom actually knew Mengers during her heyday in the ’70s as a Tinseltown power broker.

Among the most notable faces in the Geffen audience was Barbra Streisand, who was one of Mengers’ most important clients and is a key point of reference in the play. Streisand attended a recent performance of “I’ll Eat You Last” with her husband, James Brolin, according to the actress-singer’s publicist.

Streisand was a client of Mengers for more than a decade, developing a close relationship with the agent. When asked for a reaction to the play, Streisand sent the following comment via her publicist:

“It was a wonderful performance. Bette made me laugh in the same way that Sue did and she touched my heart as Sue did. It isn’t the whole story of course. Some of the facts are not true, but it was a very enjoyable evening.”

In the play Mengers is depicted as waiting for a call from Streisand, who has just dropped her as her agent. In real life, Streisand left Mengers in 1981 as the agent’s popularity in Hollywood was dwindling.

On Twitter, Midler wrote: “Barbra Streisand came to the show! And she liked it!! I was so thrilled. AND relieved!!”
“I’ll Eat You Last,” written by John Logan, was first performed on Broadway earlier this year at the Booth Theater. Its run at the Geffen ended Sunday.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bette Brings “I’ll Eat You Last” To Los Angeles

L.A. Times
Bette Midler bringing Sue Mengers play to Geffen Playhouse
Sept. 19, 2013

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The late Hollywood talent agent Sue Mengers will rise again in Los Angeles when Bette Midler reprises her recent Broadway starring role in “I’ll Eat You Last” at the Geffen Playhouse. The production is scheduled to run for three weeks at the Geffen with an opening set for Dec. 5.

“I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers,” written by the prolific John Logan, is a solo show in which Midler incarnates the colorful Hollywood agent as she holds court in her Beverly Hills home.

Mengers, who died in 2011, was an agent to some of the biggest movie stars of the 1970s, including Barbra Streisand, Steve McQueen, Ali MacGraw and Faye Dunaway.

The play opened at the Booth Theatre in New York in late April and ran for two months. Though the production was snubbed at the Tony Awards, it proved to be a box-office success, recouping its initial investment of $2.4 million.

Joe Mantello, who directed the Broadway production, will return to stage the play at the Geffen.

The Geffen will produce the play in its largest space, the Gil Cates Theater. The previously announced production of “Coney Island Christmas,” which was set to run in December, has been canceled due to scheduling conflicts among its creative team, according to the company.

Preview performances of “I’ll Eat You Last” are scheduled to begin at the Geffen on Dec. 3.

Tickets are available to Geffen Playhouse subscribers beginning Sept. 27 and to the general public in October.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Poll: Do You Think Bette Will Bring Her Play To California?

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Bette Tweets: ‘Eat’ May Play Cali

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Bette Midler ‏@BetteMidler
Rumor Alert! Last perf of …EAT YOU LAST may not have been the last. May play Cali — a fitting tribute to Sue, cinema and Humboldt County.

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

‘I’ll Eat You Last,’ with Bette Midler, could come to Los Angeles

Los Angeles Times
By David Ng
July 4, 2013, 7:16 a.m.

USA: Bette Midler's 12th Annual Spring Picnic

“I’ll Eat You Last,” John Logan’s stage play starring Bette Midler as the late Hollywood talent agent Sue Mengers, recently closed up shop on Broadway after a profitable run at the Booth Theatre. Now there’s speculation that the one-woman show is destined for Los Angeles, though there has been no official confirmation.

Midler told the New York Times in an interview published this week that producers are considering taking the play to L.A. A publicist for the New York production of “I’ll Eat You Last” said that its producers had no comment.

The play would seem like a natural fit for L.A. audiences — it is set entirely within Mengers’ spacious Beverly Hills home and serves up dishy stories about Tinseltown politics. Wearing a roomy caftan and a blond wig, Midler incarnated the late Hollywood doyenne whose client roster included Barbra Streisand, Steve McQueen, Ali MacGraw, Faye Dunaway and many other top stars of the ’60s and ’70s.

One possible venue is Center Theatre Group. Douglas C. Baker, the company’s producing director, said in a statement sent to The Times that “CTG has expressed keen interest for ‘I’ll Eat You Last’ to come to either the Ahmanson Theatre or the Mark Taper Forum, but nothing has been confirmed as this time.”

CTG produced Logan’s Tony Award-winning play “Red” at the Taper last year. Other non-touring Broadway productions to come to CTG include “God of Carnage,” with the original New York cast, and “Seminar,” with Jeff Goldblum.

“I’ll Eat You Last” turned a profit on Broadway, recouping its $2.4 million investment. But neither the play nor Midler received Tony nominations.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Interview: Bette Midler Hangs Up The Phone On ‘Eat You Last’

New York Times
Bette Midler Hangs Up The Phone On ‘Eat You Last”
July 2, 2013

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Bette Midler wrapped up her Broadway run on Sunday in “I’ll Eat You Last,” her hit play about the Hollywood agent Sue Mengers, and by Monday she was starting to decompress. Her voice was strained after three months of chain-smoking herbal cigarettes as the nicotine-and-pot-loving Mengers, but otherwise she seemed hardy during a telephone interview about her first role on Broadway in some 40 years. There was little bitterness, for instance, at the two-dozen theater insiders who declined to nominate her for a Tony Award for best actress for “I’ll Eat You Last” – a decision that was one of the biggest surprises of the theater season.

“I think it’s a great group, but it’s not my scene,” Ms. Midler said of the nominators and other powers-that-be in the Broadway industry. “I come from another world, and I think they might have felt, ‘Oh, she’s not really in our world, she’s just dropping in for a cameo.’ I can’t get worked up about it. Besides, I already have a Tony for my Broadway concert in ’73. It’s one of the most precious things I’ve won. So, I don’t know – it’s a different crowd now, and they’re four generations removed from when I was performing regularly in theater.”

If the nominators didn’t embrace her, many critics did, and audiences paid up: “I’ll Eat You Last” broke box office records at the Booth Theater and recouped its $2.4 million investment in May after 8 weeks of performances, a rare feat for a play. The producers and Ms. Midler are talking about possibly bringing the play to Los Angeles, where Ms. Mengers was a major force during the 1970s and early ‘80s before retiring and becoming a popular Hollywood hostess. As for Broadway, several producers are hopeful that the 67-year-old Ms. Midler has caught the theater bug again and will consider another play or musical at some point, given her box office prowess.

Right now, though, Ms. Midler said she just wants to catch her breath. The following are edited excerpts from the interview on Monday night.

Q.
What was the most surprising part of the Broadway experience for you, Bette?

A.
I’d never done a straight play before, never, and it was very hard work – really, really hard work. It was dense, really wordy, and I was determined to learn every word of it – not just skip over bits and pieces. It took me a long time to actually know what the play was about – that it was a long aria with slow-moving parts, and parts with laughs and tears, and that my job was to switch gears pretty radically and seamlessly in ways that I had never done before. And this wasn’t like just one day of shooting for a movie – you had to stay healthy, your brain had to stay sharp, and you needed enough wind so when a sentence went on like a paragraph, I could still breathe. There were moments I had to eat candy, and I would have a mouth full of saliva, but no time to swallow it – so I had to learn to perform through moments like that.

Q.
Was there anything you learned about yourself as an actor that you didn’t know before?

A.
I learned to accept the audience’s happiness for me, which is one of the hardest things for me to learn. I had a hard-scrabble childhood with my parents. I have a lot of baggage. To come down to the footlights and accept the audience’s affection inside a Broadway theater – that didn’t come easily to me. Sue Mengers was way tougher than I am. You go through your life, you’re a certain age, a lot of things have happened to me, but I needed to put those aside and let the audience affect me in a simple way.

Q.
What was the hardest thing you struggled with?

A.
The cigarettes nearly killed me. I answer the phone now and people calling think it’s my husband. And my allergies in that theater – it’s a very old theater. And the hairspray! I never used hairspray. And the wigs! Let’s not talk about the fricking wigs, that was such a saga. But the cigarettes were the hardest. When I made ‘The Rose,’ I did smoke, I smoked for six months, and years later I tried a cigarette again and it made me sick for two weeks. These are herbal cigarettes, but smoke is smoke. I was thrilled, though, when I finally got the timing down to smoke two at once – a cigarette in one hand and a joint in the other. That was Sue.

Q.
In hindsight, do you think it was best to return to Broadway in a new play, as opposed to a classic play or your forte, a musical? Read More

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Photo: Bette And Joan Rivers Backstage

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