Tag Archives: Joe Mantello

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bette Midler: The entertainer, 68, on youth, the glass ceiling and her 30-year marriage

Guardian The entertainer, 68, on youth, the glass ceiling and her 30-year marriage November 15, 2014 11-9-2014 7-58-41 AM I’m incapable of doing anything other than entertaining. I can barely add and I’ve never been able to do my own taxes. It’s a good thing I’ve been blessed with this fantastic will to go forward, even when I hit the skids. Fame and money was partly what drove me to leave Hawaii for New York to become a singer when I was 19. When you are poor – and we were really poor – it’s human nature to want to better yourself. Youth is the best driving force for anyone who’s creative. I was fearless when I was young. When you get older doubt sets in. But they’re not going to throw you out past 60 if you keep on being creative. They haven’t so far. My parents – both Jewish immigrants – were horrified when I announced I wanted to go into showbusiness. My mother thought it was fantastic, but she was afraid for me. My father loved me, but until the day he died he thought it was a total waste of time and that I should have been a teacher or a nurse. When I first heard “Wind Beneath my Wings” I thought: “I’m not singing that.” [Long-time friend and producer] Marc Shaiman insisted and it was the biggest hit of my career. Charm is something a lot of today’s young artists could do with. Maybe I’ll start a charm school, like they had at Motown. They don’t see it takes more than looking cute and not falling over in high heels. There’s more to life than just sex. It’s at the forefront of music and everything else has a back seat. I don’t think the pendulum will swing back for a long time. The glass ceiling still exists. It’s getting a little better for women, but past a certain age, certainly not. We were lucky to get hold of Beaches [Midler has a production company called All Girls]. No one was more surprised than me at how it took off and has such a place in the hearts of so many generations. I would have liked to have duetted with Barbra Streisand by now. She is adorable. There was talk of a collaboration on her latest album and I wanted her on mine, too, but sadly it didn’t come to anything because we were both buried in our respective projects. Marriage is a hard proposition. My husband [performance artist Martin von Haselberg] and I will have been married 30 years come December. You have to be willing to make sacrifices and compromise, but we think it’s worth it. We keep ploughing through and we’re in heaven. My daughter Sophie, now 27, is trilingual. She went to college in China and has just graduated from Yale drama school. I’m so excited she’s going to be an actor. I think what we did right was that we paid attention, we listened to what she said and we treated her as though she had worth. Sometimes I know I sound ancient. But now I’m old I can say anything I damn well please. Bette Midler’s new album It’s The Girls is out tomorrow. Her book A View from A Broad is out now (£19.99, Simon & Schuster). To order a copy for £15.99, go to bookshop.theguardian.com Bette Midler Marks Fifth Straight Decade of Top 10 Albums With IT’S THE GIRLS Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ is No. 1 on the U.S. album chart for a second week The Headliner: Partners from Barbra Streisand Woman Sings “Forget You” In 25 Different Celebrity Voices – Watch Amazing Video!

I’ll Sing A Duet with Barry Manilow Over My Dead Body! ...  Read More

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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 la-et-cm-bette-midler-sue-mengers-geffen-playh-001 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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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 BaltoBoy_Bette_Scans_006 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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Thursday, June 27, 2013

I’ll Eat You Last: It’s The Final Countdown

Final Week to See Bette Midler in Broadway’s ‘I’ll Eat You Last…’ By Trish Causey, About.com GuideJune 27, 2013 EXCLUSIVE: Whoopi Goldberg has a ladies lunch at Michael's in NYC After a successful run on Broadway, the Divine Miss M‘s one-woman show I’ll Eat You Last… A Chat With Sue Mengers must some to an end. Holding court from a stage sofa, Midler has thrilled audiences with her signature storytelling style, bringing to life the “agent to the stars,” Sue Mengers. Midler will play the final performance of the show Sunday, June 30, 2013. The show has broken its own box office records several times, grossing $890,276 just last week. Clearly, the show will end on a high, after 18 preview performances and 71 enthusiastically received regular performances. Catch Midler in her final shows as “Sue Mengers” at the Booth Theatre this week.
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Friday, June 14, 2013

Bette Midler Shines In I’ll Eat You Last

Northjersey.com : Arts & Entertainment : Theater Bette Midler shines as Sue Mengers in ‘I’ll Eat You Last” Thursday, June 13, 2013 By JOSEPH CERVELLI COLUMNIST She lies sprawled out in a lighter than air turquoise caftan (designer Ann Roth) on her luxurious sofa in her gorgeous Beverly Hills home (set by Scott Pask), with ripples of her swimming pool reflecting on her living room. Now, what famous or shall I say infamous movie star am I referring to? Well, none. It is 1981 at the home of the agent to the stars where we meet the enfant terrible Sue Mengers. In the fun-filled tabloid solo show “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers” at the Booth Theater, who better a person to portray this brassy, crude and over the top late agent than the one and only Bette Midler. Mengers was larger and life and so is the ingratiating Divine Miss M. As Mengers, she dishes, bitches, pouts all while sitting. Don’t think you can enjoy a show with the performer sitting comfortably on her sofa throughout? If it is Midler at the helm, you know you are in for more than a bumpy night. And why should she get up for a cigarette or something a bit stronger when she asks or rather commands a member of the audience to come on stage and do her fetching. Mengers would not dare lift a hand other than, perhaps, for a manicure. Written by John Logan and smartly directed by Joe Mantello, we first meet Mengers as she is anxiously awaiting a call from her closest friend Barbra Streisand, who had her lawyers call the agent earlier to break news that she was being fired. With her long blond hair that Midler is constantly pushing back and fingernails that could reach out to the mezzanine, she needs that call from Babs because she is deeply hurt the way the superstar has treated her. Even though Midler is known for her outlandish concerts, she has shown what a true dedicated dramatic actress she can be. So, she is perfectly cast here portraying the diva like Mengers with her boisterous epithets to those she dislikes (legions, may I add), but also those moments where she is deeply affected when all those famous stars she represented who start to leave her. She speaks about her life as the daughter of Jewish immigrants, her loving father who committed suicide and how she went from a secretary to Hollywood’s premier agent. There is a litany of stars she speaks about. She adores Julie Harris and Gene Hackman along with Ali McGraw. Well, that is before Ali, against Sue’s wishes, married Steve McQueen. A family paper prevents me from using the choice words she had for the late actor whom she abhorred and felt ruined McGraw’s career. She used her clout to make sure that producer Robert Evans cast Faye Dunnaway in the classic film “Chinatown.” She hilariously describes visiting Sissy Spacek’s farm traipsing through the mud. Can you imagine Menger’s getting her Jimmy Choo’s or Manolo Blahnik‘s dirtied! There is some mention of Menger’s husband the Belgian director Jean-Claude Tramont whom she appeared to have a good relationship with. The mark of any show like this one is for the star to make you want to know more and that is what Midler accomplishes so expertly. I am not sure how much she sounds like Mengers, since I do not recall ever hearing the late agent speak, but am sure she captures her persona from all I have read about her in the past. I could go on and on describing what she says about all the other performers she has represented which is hilarious, but sadly unprintable. To find out more we can do lunch but as Sue would most likely say, “You pick up the tab.”
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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Midler’s Show Turns Profit After A Mere Eight Weeks

New York Times May 30, 2013, 12:29 pm Who Needs a Tony Nomination? Midler’s One-Woman Show Pays Off By PATRICK HEALY 390399_232387013501610_221327031274275_567053_162822468_n Bette Midler may have been passed over for a Tony Award nomination for her Broadway play, “I’ll Eat You Last,” but there is no denying that she has become a box-office powerhouse this season. Her one-woman comedy, written by the Tony winner John Logan (“Red”) about the 1970s Hollywood super-agent Sue Mengers, has recouped its $2.4 million capitalization after eight weeks of performances, the show’s producers announced on Thursday. Ms. Midler joins the ranks of Broadway superstars like Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington who were also in shows that turned a profit in eight weeks – Mr. Hanks’s $3.6 million play “Lucky Guy,” which runs through July 3, and Mr. Washington’s $2.8 million revival of “Fences” in 2010. Ms. Midler drew critical acclaim for her performance but was squeezed out of the best actress Tony category, which had many strong contenders for five slots. (The Tony ceremony is June 9.) “I’ll Eat You Last,” directed by Joe Mantello, is scheduled to close June 30. Only about 25 percent of Broadway shows ever turn a profit, one of several reasons why producers increasingly seek bankable names like Ms. Midler and offer them favorable terms, like a cut of box-office profits and limited runs (in her case, a 13-week engagement).
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Monday, May 13, 2013

BROADWAY: Bette Midler back on stage after 40 years

APP BROADWAY: Bette Midler back on stage after 40 years May 13, 2013 11:03 AM © Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation It’s a good bet most people attending “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers” have no idea who the super Hollywood agent was or why she deserves a show. But it’s also safe money that most people won’t care. They just want to see Bette Midler on stage. After all, it’s been about 40 years since the Divine Miss M has had a role on Broadway. The result? She’s very good. But what else would you expect? Some may say it was risky for her to agree to do this 90-minute, one-woman show. I see their point, but the truth is, her fans are with her. They greet her with thunderous applause and then sit back and enjoy listening to her play this witty, mega-powerful, pot-smoking, foul-mouthed woman tell stories about A-list celebrities. Written by John Logan (of “Red” fame) and directed by Joe Mantello, the production offers an entertaining escape. You know what you’re in for as soon as you sit down. Displayed on the curtain is a warning sign: “This play contains profanity, smoking, alcohol consumption, drug use and gossip.” For one lucky soul, there is also a bit of audience participation. Those sitting near the front, on the aisle, should be prepared. The production begins with the song “Freeze Frame” by the J. Geils Band, an appropriate choice since the show takes place in 1981. The setting is the living room in the elegant Beverly Hills home Mengers shared with her husband, the director Jean-Claude Tramont. It’s a beautiful, spacious setting (kudos to designer Scott Pask). Midler spends most of the night on the couch, by the phone, as Mengers waits to hear from Barbra Streisand. Early in the play, we learn how they met, how Mengers knew the future Funny Girl would be a star. It wasn’t just because of her voice. It was because at the tiny venue she was playing, she asked to have the light adjusted, so it would hit her face just right. Mengers saw that Streisand wanted everything to be perfect. The two became close, with Streisand taking her around to various parties. Mengers was hilarious and started making a name for herself. She began in the business by working in New York City as a receptionist before landing a job at the William Morris Agency. She became persuasive and ferocious. She never heard a “no” that she didn’t think she could turn into a “yes.” It’s no surprise she ended up in Hollywood. She wanted to be around fame and stars. In the 1970s, she would represent Candice Bergen, Michael Caine, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Cher, Joan Collins, Burt Reynolds and Nick Nolte, among others. To those in the know, to the Hollywood elite, she was, herself, a star. Midler delivers all of Mengers’ stories well. She’s at her best sharing Sue’s Five Golden Rules to being a top Hollywood agent. The first? “Never Blow a Deal for Money.” There are a lot of good times in “I’ll Eat You Last,” but there are a few moments where Mengers becomes sad or disappointed. Mantello approaches these scenes by having Midler simply pause. It’s effective and quite moving. The audience knows Mengers is hurting inside, but her strength wins out. She is not going to let failure bring her down. She is not going to quit. She presses on. That’s a smart way to look at things, even if you are not a big-time Hollywood agent.
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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Interview: Bette Midler On “I’ll Eat You Last”

Playbill Eat, Prey, Love: Bette Midler Returns to Broadway in I’ll Eat You Last By Brandon Voss 11 May 2013
Photo: Bruce Glikas

Photo: Bruce Glikas

The Divine Miss M is presently holding court through June 30 at the Booth Theatre, but in this case that “M” refers to two divas, Bette Midler and Sue Mengers. Returning to a Broadway stage for the first time in more than 30 years, Midler stars as the late showbiz “superagent” in I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers, a biographical solo play penned by John Logan and directed by Joe Mantello. The award-winning performer recently chatted with Playbill about honoring Hollywood’s ultimate hostess. You’ve performed all over the world, but your roots are in New York theatre. How does it feel to be back on Broadway? I can’t say it feels like coming home because it actually feels like a brand new adventure. I’ve never done a show like this where I sit and talk for an hour and a half without any music. It’s a huge challenge, but it’s very exciting. What does Broadway mean to you? Well, everything has changed since the last time I was here. But it’s full of life, vitality, and great endeavors by very talented people trying to make art. It’s the heart of the city. It’s irresistible.

In 1974 you won a special Tony Award for your contributions to Broadway, but you haven’t been back since Bette! Divine Madness, your third Broadway concert, in 1980. As far as non-concerts, you haven’t been back since you left Fiddler on the Roof, your 1967 Broadway debut. Why such a long absence? ...  Read More

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Theater Review: “…now that I’ve seen the show I’m even more surprised Midler wasn’t recognized by the Tonys.”

Huffington Post Theater: Brassy Bette Michael Giltz May 10, 2013 USA: 'I'll Eat You Last' Press Reception What a treat to see Bette Midler up close and personal in a one-woman show that suits her to a t. If you want to see the Divine Miss M dish a little dirt and have a little fun playing super-agent Sue Mengers — another larger than life personality — by all means do what you can to see I’ll Eat You Last. You won’t be disappointed. The play itself is a trifle by John Logan barely worth discussing. Mengers was a super agent of the old school, a brassy pioneering woman who broke her way into the business and loved, loved, loved every minute of it — cursing on the phone at a studio chief, wooing stars, hosting parties with all her twinklies (her nickname for celebs) and generally having a blast. Mengers was so unique she even enjoyed a profile on 60 Minutes. Here we see Mengers holding court on her couch hours before she’s to host another party. It’s the fateful day Barbra Streisand fired her longtime friend Mengers, a blow Mengers never really recovered from though she knew getting fired was always part of the game. It’s late afternoon and the sun slowly sets as Mengers tells her tale — from a chubby little German Jewish immigrant whose bravest act was to cross the school playground and talk to the popular girls to the would-be actress who found her calling by discovering the talent in others and selling it to directors and studios and the media. The set by Scott Pask is handsome and director Joe Mantello smartly works with Midler to develop a real performance when she might have just put her own brassy spin on well-worn anecdotes from Mengers’ career. But Midler is a Broadway baby who appeared in Fiddler On The Roof for three years as one of her early big breaks. She just sits on a couch but she also works hard to make each slump, each pause, each decision to lean forward or slip to the side actually be driven by the text. She might have coasted but instead Midler works hard and delivers soundly. I won’t quite say she was robbed since this season saw so many good female performances but now that I’ve seen the show I’m even more surprised she wasn’t recognized by the Tonys. As for the show? They got that one right by ignoring it. You get a fair amount of laughs but those all come courtesy of Mengers. The best anecdote revolves around actress Ali McGraw and how Mengers was actually human enough to recognize that some things are more important than a movie career. (A rare trait indeed, in Hollywood.) But the setting, the platitudes, the late afternoon to the dark of night time frame all feel by the numbers and obvious. Mengers was far more complicated and interesting than that. Logan scratches the surface and nothing more. Midler, happily, digs as deep as she can.
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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I’ll Eat You Last: More Photos From Last Night

Our friend, Dr. J Whitlatch, went to see Bette in I’ll Eat You Last last night and was kind enough to send us some photos. He had a divine night which was topped off by actually meeting Miss M herself…getting his Playbill signed.
Dr. J. Whitlatch

Dr. J. Whitlatch

To see more photos: Click Here
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