Tag Archives: midler

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Bette Midler: A Toast – Thank You

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Barbra Streisand’s year of singing dangerously

Philly.com Barbra Streisand’s year of singing dangerously by David Patrick Stearns AUGUST 16, 2016 20160816_inq_dssbarbra16-b For the first time in decades, Barbra Streisand is singing dangerously. Often. Not because her voice has suddenly regained what it has gradually lost over the years. When Streisand, 74, opened the East Coast leg of her tour Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, her voice had a thinning tone, raspy edges, and an occasional frog in the throat. Sorry, the world has not yet invented cosmetic surgery for vocal cords. The difference – which will doubtless be evident Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center – is that she isn’t wasting her energy avoiding or masking what her voice can no longer do. Thus, she’s free to explore avenues of expression that could perhaps have come only from a woman of her age and experience. When she knocked out a truncated, obligatory “Don’t Rain on My Parade” on her 2012 tour, you assumed that was the best we were going get from here on. Now, she sings the entire song – well enough, but also risking comparisons with her younger self by showing clips of Funny Girl from 48 years ago. Her career montage – including the 1966 Color Me Barbra TV special shot in fraught, round-the-clock production circumstances at the Philadelphia Museum of Art amid multiple camera failures – reminds you of the many personas she has explored. Yet she doesn’t look back complacently. Streisand sang longer than the forecast two-hour-and-40-minute run time, and she relied less on supporting acts such as Il Divo to buy her vocal rest (though there’s a relatively brief, engaging interlude with comedian/mentalist Lior Suchard). The politics that have caused consternation in past Philadelphia visits – for her 2006 tour, she had Steve Bridges, a comic George W. Bush impersonator – are still there with her Hillary Clinton infomercials and Donald Trump wisecracks. Some fans booed her Thursday. I can’t imagine she cared. And, having sat near a teleprompter, I can report that Streisand – the control freak of old – frequently goes off script. Such things suggest Streisand is getting back to the way she was – with rich reference to where she has been. Streisand never slotted seamlessly into the early 1960s, when lyrical female singers dominated and Broadway was a primary generator of pop music. The dismissive disdain she projected in “Cry Me a River” and the contrarily sad subtext of “Happy Days Are Here Again” established her as a revisionist figure with Marlon Brando-esque explosiveness. The cover photos on her hit 1964 album People showed her from the back, looking out into the sunrise, hands firmly planted on hips, implying as much exasperation as affection for her fellow human beings. Although Streisand, Bette Midler, and Liza Minnelli promised to renew what is now called the Great American Songbook, Streisand arrived in Hollywood only to have the movie musical crumble beneath her feet. Funny Girl was a much-lauded hit in 1968, Hello Dolly lost millions in 1969, and the 1970 On a Clear Day You Can See Forever is barely remembered. A few other traditional film musicals, such as Cabaret, sneaked in under the wire, but many old-guard artists didn’t make the transition into the rhythm-driven 1970s. An odd time, indeed. Bing Crosby recorded “Hey Jude” (badly), Nancy Sinatra attempted psychedelia in “Lightning’s Girl,” Mae West sang Bob Dylan, and Bobby Darin sang “If I Were a Carpenter” with only a fraction of his usual voice. Midler eventually reinvented herself with screwball comedies and inspirational ballads. Minnelli collaborated with the Pet Shop Boys, becoming a dance-club diva. Streisand’s successful sea change came with her 1970 Stoney End album – though it was followed by her now-embarrassing version of John Lennon’s “Mother” and a lot of disposable lightweight movies. In effect, Streisand, like Minnelli and Midler, had to take her talent underground until what she did best could be appreciated anew. Cut to Streisand’s new duets album, Encore. Her vocal quirks emerge, undisguised by electronic trickery, in the very first cut, “At the Ballet” from A Chorus Line, and are particularly noticeable alongside fresher-voiced colleagues Anne Hathaway and Daisy Ridley. Obviously, age is not to be denied but embraced. Meanwhile, she is more inclined to let her duet colleagues carry a song, starting with scene-setting dialogue before each track. In “At the Ballet,” she, Hathaway, and Ridley portray chorus-line hopefuls in an audition. In “Loving You” from Stephen Sondheim‘s Passion, she unleashes Patrick Wilson to take off with the kind of vocal flourishes she can no longer manage, allowing him to walk off with the song. Streisand isn’t serving Streisand here – at least not the way divas so often do. She’s serving the song in every way possible – even if that means delegating. The best change of all is how warmly present Streisand is. She has never seemed more vibrant. When she returned to concert tours in 1994, she seemed almost like some corporate CEO who was rediscovering what it really meant to connect to a live audience. Any reserve, though, was far gone in her elegiac 2013 Marvin Hamlisch tribute at the Academy Awards. That’s the kind of singing she delivered in the second half of the Brooklyn concert (after a more comfortable first half of midtempo ballads). Vocal quirks barely mattered. In many ways, the voice is just the most obvious manifestation in the larger emotional sphere of the song. Her visual appearance bordered on bland – so as not to distract from the music at hand. It all feels less packaged. Singers often become more interesting as their diminishing resources force them to say more with fewer vocal options. Doing so fearlessly puts Streisand back in the danger zone, which has long been her friend. So it was from the beginning, when we were still figuring out what was the deal with her eccentric eye makeup, and so it is now, in a world that’s so used to her that you wrongly assume there are no new doors for her to open. Oh, but there are.
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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bette Midler On Movies, Music, And Her Gay Fans

Mister D: Once again UK journalists outdo the US as far as interviewing. Great job! Gay Times UK Bette Midler Interview By Darren Scott Sept. 2014 10646712_702400999850302_7261996589031282986_n We’re having a debate with Bette Midler about her music. She doesn’t believe us when we note the eight year gap between her last, Grammy nominated album, Cool Yule, and her new one, It’s The Girls, is far longer than the one between No Frills and Beaches. As gay conversations go, correcting Bette Midler on her back catalogue is pretty much the daddy of all things gay. And it’s not really about to get particularly butch – The Divine Miss M has finally been coaxed back to the studio by long-time collaborator Marc Shaiman for an album of songs by girl groups of yesteryear. So yes, pretty camp. Not that Bette thinks in such terms – a long-standing gay icon, supporter of LGBT rights, former GT cover star and, well, she started her career singing to gay men in saunas, so she’s practically one of us. It seems only right that, in our anniversary issue, we have a GT classic answer… “Well I do love my gay fans…” she begins, before quickly making complete sense. “But I kind of like everybody, I don’t like to separate people. I’m not a segregationist! But because you’re so sweet and so genuinely gentlemanly…” Flattery will indeed get you everywhere Ms Midler. But the pressing question GT wants to know the answer to before we talk music is about her movies. “Which one do I think my gay fans like best? I hadn’t really considered it. But you mean which one’s the most camp? Oh gee, I don’t really know. What do you think?” Oh she’s good. Another gay icon classic tactic – to turn the question back on us. Fortunately, as she already knows, we’re prepared and reply with Beaches, Hocus Pocus and Big Business. “Oh how interesting. Well, I have to say Big Business is pretty funny. That’s one I would think was the most camp, but I don’t know. I think they’re divided. I think a lot of people really love The Rose. I think that people love to see the scenery being chewed and I think that they loved the music. You know what? I have no idea, to tell you the truth. You just say what you wanna say and I’ll say, ‘Yep that’s right!” she laughs. As if we’d ever do such a thing. Actress, singer, comedian, legend, mermaid. The Divine Miss M has done it all and now, after the aforementioned hiatus, she’s back where she started from. Eerily so, in fact, with It’s The Girls being so very reminiscent of her first two albums. “I think so too.” she agrees. “Marc Shaiman, who produced this record, was a big fan of mine when he was a kid, like 14, 15 years old. He knocked on my door when he was 16 and he was such a pest. But he’d fallen in love with those first two records, they introduced him to all sorts of music that he had no idea existed. He always talks about that, he talks about me in a way, really I’m like his godmother. “He knows that music and the people so well. He and his partner Scott were the songwriters on Hairspray, so they know the genre. He’s great at pastiche. All our roots are so far back and so into that music that I think it was a great, really inspired choice to go with him. “Plus, he loves me, looks after me, he takes care of me. If I say, ‘I need another note’, he’ll say, ‘How about this?’ Instead of leaving me in the booth to suffer silently alone. Or loudly alone,” she deadpans. “It just seems like it’s time. People are sort of waking up to the fact that it’s stuff that they love, it seems like it’s sort of in the zeitgeist. I didn’t really realise when we started it, because we started talking about it last year. Previously a friend of mine had pitched me an idea that was very similar. It’s been on my mind and I really love the stuff, it’s easy to sing, it’s fun to sing, it spreads joy, so why not?” The same friend who tried convincing her to do an Andrews Sisters record perhaps? She laughs. “No, I have plenty of those though! Those are legion. Peoople would lynch me if I didn’t do The Andrews Sisters.” But it’s not all music from the 40s, 50s and 60s. Because we need to talk about her stripped down version of TLC’s Waterfalls. Oh yes. “YES!” she proclaims excitedly. “Oh I’m glad you brought that up. I really love that, I really do. I’ve always loved that song and I’ve always loved those girls. I mean, it’s a really sad song. But I wanted it without the rhythm that’s so insistsent on the TLC version. Stripped down, it’s just so so sad.” Have there been any other groups in recent years that have caught her ear? “Oh of course! My God! I love Destiny’s Child, I followed them. I thought their songs, especially the really funny ones, were absolutely wonderful.” Funny ones? “Bills, Bills, Bills. But then Beyoncé left them, but her songs are really kind of girl groupy too. I mean “if you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it! That song.” Bette Midler is actually singing Single Ladies to us. “They’re all like little playlets. They’re kind of funny in a way that a lot of music isn’t. They’re humorous. TLC – I thought No Scrubs was a REALLY funny song. I went looking for those writers, but when you get the list it’s like 18 people on a song… “The Spice Girls came up, the Bangles came up, the Go-Go’s cam up. We came close to Walk Like an Egyptian but then I thought, ‘I know her, I know Susanna Hoffs’. But ultimately, when people think of girl groups, they really think of the 60s. I flew my flag for The Andrews Sisters and The Chordettes and TLC. I said, ‘Let’s not just make it one thing, there’s too much other really good music that I’d like to sing.” But it’s not all about song – stage and screen have also recently beckoned. “They invited me,” she says of her recent Broadway production of I’ll Eat You Last to the West End. Despite considering it, instead the story of Hollywood aent Sue Mengers is currently ‘in mothballs’. “It’s not that high on the list, but it’s definitely something that i’ll keep in my back pocket.” While we’re talking of hearsay, we might as well round up those rumours. Sorry to break it to you, faithful reader, but a lot of the Bette projects you’ve heard about may not be happening…. First Wives Club 2? “You know they tried to do a sequel, I have no idea,” she laughs. “I know that there are projects for the three of us to get together again, but I don’t think they have anything to do with that particular piece. They tried it many many years ago right after they had their big success, but I don’t think they had any luck. I dunno, it’s hard to tell…” Hocus Pocus 2? “Well she did die. I died.” Ms Midler, Disney villains never die. She chuckles to herself for a while. “You know, you’re absolutely right. That would be fun! We’d be a little bit long in the tooth, but it would be fun. I’m SO surprised at the legs that picture has. As the years have gone by it’s only gotten bigger and bigger. People tell me stuff that I had no idea. Just last year they said, ‘You know they play it for a whole week.’ I think they play it for a whole month on television or something ridiculous. Everyone knows it, actually the really young ones say ‘I know you, you’re the witch from Hocus Pocus.’ And I go ‘Well yes, that’s ONE of the things I did…’ I was really surprised that it’s taken on a life of its own. Hocus Pocus – The Musical? “How funny! Well, you would know more than I, they’re not emailing me!” There was a novel, called Beaches 2, that was written specifically for her…. “Beaches 2?! Oh I think she [Iris Rainer Dart] published that years ago. But I heard that she was doing a musical of Beaches, I heard that, I did hear that. but that has nothing to do with me. She’s, she thinks carefully, “a force too! She’s energetic, she’s up there cranking and I admire that aobut her. I don’t know anything about it, I think they had a workshop? She didn’t tell me, she didn’t keep me in the loop.” Plans for a definitive book about her life? “No. I have no plans to write that,” she says, following a recent re-release of A View From A Broad. “No, I think that was it for me. That’s what I had to say and I said it and that’s that. I don’t really want to write an autobiography. First of all, I don’t remember much of it,” she chuckles. “I really don’t! And most of it was about work and I don’t think people would be interested in the work part of it. it’s a lot of technical jargon and a lot of stuff about deals and all that kind of thing, and because i’m not a songwriter I don’t have that ‘and then I wrote.’ I didn’t have that to fall back on. And my escapades I’m keeping to myself. I’m trying to be merciful to my family,” she laughs. The Mae West HBO biopic? “Well that one’s very interesting, that one really looks like it’s going to go. That’s Billy Friedkin, who’s wonderful, and Doug McGrath who’s also someone to be reckoned with. I’ve met the two of them and they have a great idea for it. That’s a great story, because she was such an interesting character and lived such a curious life. It started when she was just six-years-old, she was a real showbiz prodigy, in a way. She completely invented herself and was very, very proud of what she’s done. She never changed gears. She wrote her own material and she really let women have a sex life that they hadn’t had. Nobody knew they were interested in it before her. So God bless her.” We’re glad that one’s happening, even if we can’t get Bette back on a broomstick. “Oh well, I think she’s prettier,” she laughs. “She doesn’t have those teeth.” Before that, a week of UK TV appearances beckon, shortly after this issue hits shelves. “I’m so excited. I’m lining up my restaurants now…” Dinner aside, might we get a live event or two? She laughs loudly. “Is there something else Oh! You mean I have to work?” A Divine tease indeed – all we can say is watch this space… You can follow Gay Times at these places: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gaytimes Twitter: https://twitter.com/GayTimesMag Darren Scott: https://twitter.com/darren_scott REVIEW: Bette Midler – It’s The Girls! Updated Press Release: Bette Midler Announces ‘It’s The Girls,’ Her First Album Since 2006 For Those Who Missed It, DJ Bette Midler, For The Girls BBC2 Audio Clip

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What kind of Bettehead are you?

QuoteV What kind of Bettehead are you? bette-midler-hocus-pocus-11-spellbinding-hocus-pocus-facts-you-might-not-have-known This is to categorize what kind of Bettehead you are, and to let you know if you are a big enough of a Bette Midler fan to dub you a bettehead, note: just because you’ve seen beaches and like from a distance, it doesn’t make you a bettehead. To Take The Quiz: Click Here
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Sunday, October 26, 2014

BetteBack January 30, 1987: Outrageous Fortune Washington Post Review

By Rita Kempley Washington Post Staff Writer January 30, 1987 377372_223684124371899_221327031274275_541443_730021703_nOutrageous Fortune” marks a motion picture milestone — for the first time in action adventuring, the lead breaks a fingernail. It stops her for a moment, like a flesh wound, but she goes on to scrabble up the mesa in time to get her man. While other heroines tag along with Indiana and Croc, “Fortune” smiles on the precedent-setting teamwork of comediennes Bette Midler and Shelley Long, the first female buddies ever to match wits with the CIA and the KGB and the no-good lout who done ’em wrong. They make a colossally madcap mismatch — natural adversaries who become best pals as they pursue their two-timing lover (Peter Coyote) from Manhattan to New Mexico. High-speed hijinks in high heels ensue. The chase begins in Harlem (they’ve promised a glowering cabbie $200 just to take them there), where a worried Long notices there are no white people on the streets. “There’s one . . . oops, they got him,” taunts Midler. The pratfalls become even more death-defying when biological cycles make one of our heroines real cranky. PMS Rambo is unleashed, and the battle of the sexes intensifies. Westward ho, the women track down the wily Coyote in a whorehouse, recognizing his lusty love calls through the door. Their illusions shattered and their friendship forged, they soon figure a way to avenge themselves — preferably by pulling his face off. “Fortune” is every bit as rude and wonderful as “Ruthless People,” the second of Midler’s three dirty, ditzy comedies for Disney. The Divine Ms. M works a variation on her tough tootsie as a tacky, sharp-tongued starlet whose last movie was “Ninja Vixens.” She revamps Sophie Tucker’s delivery and revs Mae West’s languor up to Mach speed. All that plus the Midler wiggle — like Jell-O in a pantyhose mold. Lewd and low-down, she’s a natural counterpoint to Long’s perfect parody of Ivy League snootiness, a goofy expansion of the Diane character that endeared her to “Cheers” fans. The pair become instant enemies as students of the reknowned Russian acting coach Stanislav Korzenowski (Robert Prosky). They form a temporary truce to track down Coyote when they find they’ve been man-ipulated by the completely captivating undercover Casanova. Before this spy story is done, the heroines will have come a long way, baby: Bonding, they learn, is better without a Bond. But debuting screenwriter Leslie Dixon is no propagandist. She’s a screwball feminist, penning her rough-and-rowdy girl talk in familiar patterns inspired by her role models Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder. And veteran Arthur Hiller, who directed Peter Falk and Alan Arkin in “The In-Laws” and Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder in “Silver Streak,” proves equally adept at managing a female odd couple. BetteBack January 22, 1987: Shelley Long On Leaving Cheers And Outrageous Fortune 25 Quotes on Wealth From Powerful Women At The Movies Or In Real Life It’s no joke! Joan Rivers left a $150 million fortune – and it’s all going to daughter Melissa… and her dogs, who were better than a husband ‘because they didn’t leave the toilet seat up’

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Monday, October 20, 2014

BetteBack February 13, 1987: Outrageous Fortune Review

Huntingdon Daily News February 13, 1987 316495_223684674371844_221327031274275_541476_483687621_n “Whether to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles …” Hamlet said it, Shakespeare wrote it, but Shelley Long and Bette Midler have to endure it. And this “sea of troubles” is more like an ocean of orchestrated oddballs. From fables to farces, nothing in all of Shakespeare’s vast collection of writings ever matched the sheer lunacy of this epic adventure. Midler is quickly becoming a veteran of cinematic oddball antics. In films such as “Jinxed,” “Down and Out in Beverly H*s” and the -pnenornenaNy successful “Ruthless People,” the Divine Mis:- M amply demonstrates . Here she teams with Long, who plays an aspiring actress studying at the best schools with the best teachers. She’s weH read in the classics and has committed to memory the best of Strindberg and crucial passages of Chekhov. She studies bafet and excels in class. When she gets a chance to study with the great Russian teacher Stanislav Korzenowski, she jumps at the opportunity and spends weeks preparing tor the audition. White she is nervously awaiting the audition, in strops Midler, and when Midler strolls, everyone knows it. She’s street-wise and fearless. No matter that she hasn’t rehearsed anything. She’ll “improvise something.” But test you think this film is about struggling Mew York actresses, tet me.list some of the other ingredients: Russian spies, the CIA, art explosion, a love triangle, a via) of highly toxic defoliant capable of kitting aN plant life in an area the size of California, a ’60s hippie, Indians, bows and arrows … and I could go on. Midter and Long are the zaniest duo to hit the screen in a long, long time. And they do hit the screen with the power of Leslie Dixoo’s outrageous script, a chase film/farce with no holds barred. It stretches aR limits of credulity, but when the laughs are this loud and long, even Shakespeare himsett wouldn’t mind.

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    Saturday, October 18, 2014

    BetteBack June 22, 1986: BETTE MIDLER IS UP AND IN HOLLYWOOD

    New York Times BETTE MIDLER IS UP AND IN IN HOLLYWOOD By Thomas O’Connor; Thomas O’Connor covers arts and entertainment for The Orange County (Calif.) Register. 384433_223683991038579_221327031274275_541434_928988795_n LOS ANGELES— ”No,” said Bette Midler, flashing her familiar, sly grin, ”I’m not going to tell you. It’s the magic of movies.” The flamboyant entertainer – who has long made comic capital out of her ample figure – was feeling coy when the subject turned to her striking, onscreen transformation from overweight to svelte in the new comedy ”Ruthless People.” The film, co-starring Danny DeVito and Judge Reinhold and opening in New York on Friday, features Miss Midler as the rambunctious victim of a bungled kidnapping and follows hard on her success in ”Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” for which she also underwent a strenuous exercise regimen to lose weight. ”I’m not very disciplined,” Miss Midler said at her Beverly Hills home. ”I take it off when I have to.” Yet at the moment, the woman whose sassy, outrageously campy stage routines earned her the soubriquet of the Divine Miss M is quite happy to be putting on weight, since the 40-year-old Miss Midler and her husband of 18 months are expecting their first child in October. By then, she will have completed her third major film in a year, ”Outrageous Fortune,” a women’s ”buddy” picture which will also star Shelley Long. The prospect of maternity leaves Miss Midler alternately pleased and perplexed. ”Yes, it’s very exciting, but it’s really awful in a way, because it’s kind of invasive,” she said. ”I was shocked when I found out babies don’t always sleep at night, so they keep you up and you get tired. Really. I couldn’t believe it.” Of the acclaim that has greeted her performance as a bored nouvelle-riche matron in ”Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” she said, ”No one is ever more surprised than I at any success.” ”Down and Out in Beverly Hills” has reignited her stalled film career and established her as a formidable comic player. She plays a woman even more spoiled in ”Ruthless People,” a product of the trio of directors – Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker – who created the popular spoof ”Airplane!” But in the new film she ends up siding with her good-hearted, if incompetent, kidnappers against her comically diabolical husband (Mr. DeVito). The sponsoring studio, Walt Disney Pictures, hopes both ”Ruthless People” and ”Outrageous Fortune” will duplicate the success it has already enjoyed with ”Down and Out in Beverly Hills.” The Paul Mazursky comedy was Disney’s first R-rated movie through the studio’s new, adult-oriented Touchstone Films division, and its take of more than $60 million makes it the year’s biggest box-office hit. Popular since the early 1970’s for her few-holds-barred records and concerts of song, dance and comedy, Miss Midler surprised critics in 1978 – and won a best-actress Oscar nomination – with her film debut in ”The Rose,” a serious portrayal of a self-destructive rock singer, modeled on Janis Joplin. But the acclaim did not, to her dismay, lead to more dramatic roles. ”When I was with Aaron [ Russo, her manager and boyfriend during most of the 1970’s ] , he didn’t want me to do comedy,” Miss Midler recalled. ”He wanted me to start out as a great dramatic actress. I thought that was a terrific career move, except that I could never follow it [ ‘The Rose’ ] up. Nothing came along for years.” Until ”Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” her only Hollywood work was the 1980 concert film of her Broadway stage show, ”Divine Madness,” and her role as a Las Vegas lounge singer in 1982’s aptly titled ”Jinxed,” which proved memorable only for Miss Midler’s much-publicized battles with her director, Don Siegel, and co-star, Ken Wahl. ”I was in a very vulnerable position then,” she said, ”because I had left Aaron, who had looked after me for seven years. So I threw myself into a project that I never should have gotten mixed up with. ” ‘Jinxed’ was a traumatic experience,” she said, ”but I don’t think it was that bad a picture. He [ director Siegel ] actually cut it quite sensitively. Even though he didn’t like me, he didn’t make me look bad.” Her re-emergence this year as a film comedienne Miss Midler credits to director Mazursky, whom she did not know before he cast her opposite Richard Dreyfuss and Nick Nolte in ”Down and Out in Beverly Hills.” ”I thought I was going to meet some silver-haired Hollywood type, but Paul turned out to be an ex-standup comic, a guy with whom I had instant rapport. He runs a very cheerful set, jolly, in fact, to the point of mania. And that’s the way to make a picture.” Although her trademark stage persona occasionally flashes in conversation (she beamed when a visitor noted her garish, green-and-yellow painted fingernails), Miss Midler is, she acknowledged, essentially serious by nature and more than a little shy. ”That’s why ‘Down and Out’ was such a relief for me. Paul wants everyone to get in the spirit of the silliness. I can generate that kind of silliness myself, in my shows, but at home I don’t because I’m too beat. So it’s nice when somebody else is the clown and the host for a change.” Her baby will slow, though not halt, Miss Midler’s film work. ”We didn’t plan it,” she said, speaking of herself and her husband, Martin von Haselberg, a German photographer and performance artist. ”Because I’m 40, it’s under-the-wire time. I expect to be very tired, very worn out and at my wits’ end. So I expect not to be doing a whole lot.” That does not preclude starting preproduction work on a new film she will produce for Disney with her two women partners in a company called ”All-Girl Productions” (”Our motto,” she laughed, ”is ‘We Hold a Grudge’ ”). She plans to star in the film, a musical about the big-band leader Ina Rae Hutton, who led an all-women ensemble during the 1930’s and 40’s. She would like to cast the film with well-known women musicians, such as the singers Bonnie Raitt and Rickie Lee Jones. And for M-G-M, she plans to make a murder-mystery comedy about a woman detective who becomes a standup comic. Miss Midler was asked if maternity is likely to mellow her film characters, who talk like stevedores, or her notoriously suggestive standup comedy routines. ”Do you mean am I going to remain vul-gahh and crass?” she retorted, with leering mock indignation. ”Well, I’m going to put my baby in boarding school as soon as possible, in a far corner of England, no, Scotland, near the heather and the Highlands, so my baby will never hear any of this. ”I don’t know,” she sighed. ”I’m going to have to keep doing something, because that’s my livelihood. Joan Rivers’s child seems to be developing O.K., hasn’t turned into a serial killer or anything. And Joan’s much more abrasive than I.” Which means there will be no cheap motherhood jokes in years to come? ”Oh, my goodness, no, I can’t. Oh no, no, no,” she declared, the innocence in her voice swelling. ”No, everything is not to be put to commerce. Some things are precious.” Miss Midler paused the requisite two beats, then turned with a familiar, sly gleam in her eye. ”Gee, do you think I should?”

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    Sunday, October 12, 2014

    BetteBack January 29, 1987: Midler On Movies, Life, And Babies

    Syracuse Herald Journal January 29, 1987 374837_223685077705137_2213 Midler and her husband, Harry Kipper, a performance artist and commodities trader, became the parents of Sophie Frederica Alohe Lani in November. Frederica was chosen in honor of Midler’s father, Fred, with whom she says she “made peace with a long time ago.” The Hawaiian, according to Midler, means “bright sky.” Passing around a Polaroid of Sophie at 6 weeks, the new mother says, “She looks like both of us. She was an accident but a happy one. We may decide to have another at the end of the year.” Motherhood came to Bette Midler shortly before her 41st birthday. But at the interview, where she wore her hair in a single pigtail and tortoise shell glasses, she looked like a college student. Although Midler was between five and six months pregnant while filming outdoor sequences for “Outrageous Fortune” in New Mexico, director Arthur Hiller claims he made few accommodations to her condition. “A couple of days, she had tft quit earlier than we anticipated, but Bette usually made it up by working longer the next day,” he says. “But we did do a lot of preplanning. We would level the earth so the running up and down wasn’t as tough or dangerous. For the climbing, we put in … well, they were like steps.” And, Hiller says, they used the star’s stunt woman for any remotely dangerous segments. Midler is high on success now, but that’s in sharp contrast to her condition not too many years ago. “I thought I’d made the transition to actress with ‘The Rose,’ but nobody else did,” Midler said. “Nothing ever came of it. I was off the screen for a couple of years.” Eventually, she was offered “Jinxed” and leaped at the chance to get back on the movie screen. It was a disjointed film, and filming was reportedly disrupted by Midler temper tantrums. “I was off the screen two more years after that,” she said. Her slumping film career sent her back to the show business area that had made her a star — music. Midler went into the recording studio and did an album, then hit the road to promote the disc. “I was on the road nine months, and the record never came out,” she complained. “It’s a drag to spend all that time in a record studio for nothing.” Consequently, the periormer is ruling out a concert tour for the immediate future. Besides, Midler worries that she’d have to adopt an entirely new image. “They’re all doing my act. They’re doing standards and doing them dressed funny. They’re wearing corselets and pedal pushers like I do. It’s like seeing your closet parade before your eyes.” Despite the “trashy” label that has been attached to her stage performances, Midler is quick to correct an interviewer who uses that term. “I was tasteless, not trashy,” she says with a grin. “But my act was never even tasteless, I have brilliant taste.” Undoubtedly, the latest Midler award tickles her sense of humor. She has been chosen to receive the lucite popcorn box that symbolizes her honor at the second annual Moving Ball, to be staged Feb. 21 at the Hollywood Palladium. Since she’s on a winning streak, Midler expects to stick with comedy. “People will go anywhere for a laugh. I wanted so badly to be a leading lady and I still do. But the time is not right to pursue that.” Her comedic influences began as a child going to movies. Rather than the “weepers,” young Bette wont to comedies and musical comedies. “I watched Chaplin a long, long time. He used his whole body. I never was interested in Buster Keaton, because he never moved his face. My face is my instrument. I’ve always been a mugger.” Midler says her attitude toward her profession has changed. “Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. If you’re not prepared for the loss, you shouldn’t be in this business. I did not have to feel like the whole world had come crashing down, but I did. I don’t have that pain now.” Yet lh., old performer’s insecurity hasn’t left the star. “I know this is all going to disappear. The difference is I know the system now. But it was very hard to learn.”

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    Saturday, October 11, 2014

    BetteBack January 22, 1987: Shelley Long On Leaving Cheers And Outrageous Fortune

    Winnipeg Free Press January 22, 1987 374639_223684101038568_221327031274275_541441_7810151_n A few weeks ago, the day Shelley Long announced she would be leaving her role as Diane Chambers, the sassy, literary minded waitress on TV’s Cheers, the phones in her publicist’s office rang all day. People across the country wanted a comment, a reason for her departure. What should, perhaps, have come as a Casual announcement from Hollywood’s faritasyland turned into a heated race to get “the scoop.” One of the most popular sitcoms on TV for the past five years, much of the show has been built around Diane’s on-again, off-again, onagain romance with the less than brainy, but very brawny bartender, Sam Malone. Their rollercoaster romance recently culminated in an engagement. But Long won’t be around to hear the wedding bells. “Boy, it was tough, really tough,” Long says, shaking her head, of her decision to leave the show. “I really care about all those people, about the show, and Sam and Diane‘s relationship, and it was very hard to let go of that. But the producers couldn’t give me any specifics in the direction that the relationship would take next year. The first year that process of getting together was difficult, there were some wonderful episodes done but there was a kind of struggle involved. It was hard to know what that relationship should be like when Sam and Diane were together. “After the breakup it was pretty jerky from then on. There was a constant juggle. My question was “What is going on here? What are my feelings? What is my character looking for?’ It was difficult to know what Diane had in mind, what she was seeking. I would have a lot of questions, as actresses always do, and when you’re working with a lot of people there, a lot of writers and producers, it’s hard to get clear insights into those questions.” It is obvious that despite the fact the actress has landed a sweet development deal with Disney Studios, leaving the show that made her famous was a serious decision. She relates an anecdote about two women she encountered in an elevator who expressed their disappointment at her departure. From her tone, it’s clear she feels, on a very personal level, that she’s let down her fans. “I’m touched to hear that people feel that kind of tie to my character and the show. I understand that Diane is a primary element in the show but I don’t think she’s the most primary. Everyone is given strong consideration and a lot of exposure. I’m sure Cheers will do just great next year without me.” C e r t a i n l y her d e p a r t u r e shouldn’t, in reality, be given the importance of headline news but, then again, considering the reams of articles on how Dallas viewers felt cheated by Pam’s Dream, it’s understandable why Long herself seems to be suffering from some private angst. But whatever personal turmoil her decision has wrought, Long may find solace in the release of her first film for Disney, Outrageous Fortune. Although she has done numerous films before, from the bombs Caveman, Loosin’ It and The Money Pit, to Night Shift and Irreconcilable Differences, it is Outrageous Fortune that may make the actress a viable box office draw. The witty, rowdy comedy pairs Long with Betle Midler in one of the few female “buddy” pictures to come out of Hollywood in recent history. Both women play actresses, with Midler playing the unorthodox slob and Long — in a role not too far removed from Diane Chambers — a sophisticated, snobbish “.method” actress. “I think the combination of Shelley Long and Bette Midler brings a lot of images to mind and just makes you laugh,” says Long. “It was written that way, for two different ladies who are thrown together in an unlikely situation but who make the best of it.” The “situation” in this case is the discovery that their “dream” man (Peter Coyote) has been romancing each of the unsuspecting actresses. But the battles between Long and Midler on-screen made the papers as well when it was reported the pair were fighting off-screen over who would receive top billing in the credits. “The word battle is so ridiculous,” asserts Long. “It wasn’t a battle. Billing is an important element in a contract. It does affect advertising and conceptions. I don’t know, this isn’t my area. Lawyers, agents and managers, they get into it and it’s regarded by those people as being important. It’s not life shattering, but it’s important. I had my contract’first. Bette wanted top billing, which makes every sense in the world, and those people went off and worked it out and everyone was happy. I got top-billing in half the country and she got it in the other half. What annoys me is that the press seems to really be looking for any issue. “If people want to see a good fight, they should go to the movie because we fought good. We scream and roll on the floor and pull each other’s hair. It’s great. They’ll love it.”
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    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

    Updated Press Release: Bette Midler Announces ‘It’s The Girls,’ Her First Album Since 2006

    10347427_701143113309424_4621514323624990974_n For her first studio album in eight years, Bette Midler is revisiting some of the vocalists who shaped her the most — girl groups — on It’s The Girls, due Nov. 4 via Warner Bros. Records (Nov. 10 in the UK via East West Records/Warner Music UK.) The album spans seven decades of famous girl groups, from ‘30s trios The Boswell Sisters (the title track) and The Andrews Sisters (“Bei Mir Bist Du Schön”) to ‘90s R&B legends TLC (wait til you hear Midler’s cabaret take on “Waterfalls.”) Midler’s longtime collaborator Marc Shaiman (Hairspray) handles production. “I have loved the sound of females harmonizing since I was a kid; I always sang along. Didn’t we all?” Midler tells Billboard. “I think the idea that you could become part of the group was the thing that endeared me to the girl groups. You weren’t just singing along, you were THERE!” As fashions in music have changed, Midler says, some of the songs had to evolve — hence the country-fied take on The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” that appears on It’s The Girls. “Since this is a kind of overview of girl groups, I wanted to re-arrange some of the really popular songs and put a new spin on them; ‘Can’t Hurry Love” being the most extreme example,” Midler says. “The Boswell Sisters was the first girl group record I ever owned,” she continues. “A friend of my parents gave it to them, and I played it to death. They killed. They are nearly forgotten today. The ’60s were the height of girl-group frenzy, so there were a lot of songs to chose from, but from the ’90s on, my favorites were TLC and Destiny’s Child. ‘Waterfalls’ was a heartbreaker, especially if you were a mom, and it had a big effect on me. I never thought I would have the nerve to sing it, but we had an idea for it that works, and I am so glad I took the chance.” Though she’s teased retirement from the road over the years, a new tour is in the works, too, a spokeswoman for Midler teases. Adds Midler of revisiting the many eras of girl groups, “All in all, there is such a rich and emotional history to this music, it’s a joy to dust it off and take another listen…So Bette Midler!” It’s The Girls Track List: 1. BE MY BABY Originally performed by The Ronettes 2. ONE FINE DAY Originally performed by The Chiffons 3. BEI MIR BIST DU SCHÖN Originally performed by The Andrews Sisters All Vocals by Bette Midler 4. BABY IT’S YOU Originally performed by The Shirelles All Vocals by Bette Midler 5. TELL HIM Originally performed by The Exciters 6. HE’S SURE THE BOY I LOVE (duet with Darlene Love) Originally performed by The Crystals 7. MR. SANDMAN Originally performed by The Chordettes 8. COME AND GET THESE MEMORIES Originally performed by Martha & The Vandellas 9. TOO MANY FISH IN THE SEA Originally performed by The Marvelettes 10. TEACH ME TONIGHT Originally performed by The DeCastro Sisters 11. WATERFALLS Originally performed by TLC 12. YOU CAN’T HURRY LOVE Originally performed by The Supremes 13. GIVE HIM A GREAT BIG KISS Originally performed by The Shangri-Las 14. WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW Originally performed by The Shirelles 15. IT’S THE GIRL Originally performed by The Boswell Sisters All Vocals by Bette Midler
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