Tag Archives: Television

Monday, November 5, 2018

Video: Murphy Brown – A Lifetime of Achievement (Preview) – With A Little Bette Midler – Thursday, November 8, 2018

The ‘Murphy in the Morning‘ team, Avery and Phyllis join Jim Dial at an eventful lifetime achievement award gala in his honor, hosted by Katie Couric (playing herself) and attended by Murphy’s worst-ever secretary (Bette Midler), who has a surprising new connection to Murphy. Also, Murphy discovers a kindred spirit in Judge Nate Campbell (John Larroquette), another gala attendee, Thursday, Nov. 8 at 9:30/8:30c. Only CBS

Bette Midler guests on Murphy Brown, Thursday, November 8
Bette Midler guests on Murphy Brown, Thursday, November 8
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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Paramount Network picks up First Wives Club reboot as half-hour series – To Premiere On TV Next Year

meaww
Paramount Network picks up First Wives Club reboot as half-hour series
By Alakananda Bandyopadhyay · 19:51 PST, 3 Jun 2018

Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, and Diane Keaton

Paramount Network’s latest venture is in the form of a new comedy series, “First Wives Club” – 10 half-hour long episodes of which have been picked up from Paramount Television. The blockbuster hit film ‘Girls Trip’ writer, Tracy Oliver, is attached to write and serve as executive producer.

Based on the favorite 1996 film from Paramount Pictures, which featured Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn, the half-hour series resembles the movie in its setting, which is New York City. The plot revolves around a group of women who band together after their marriages fall apart, and who find strength in their sisterhood – and of course a little revenge.

The movie itself is from the 1992 book of the same name by Olivia Goldsmith.

“Tracy Oliver is a brilliant writer and the perfect visionary to bring this unforgettable story from the big screen to the small screen in a fresh and contemporary way,” said Keith Cox, President, Development and Production, Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT.

“‘Girls Trip’ was one of the funniest comedies in recent memory and we know Tracy will breathe new life, and some serious laughs, into these beloved ‘First Wives Club’ characters,” said Amy Powell, President of Paramount TV.

Production for the series will begin in New York City this summer, and the series will debut on Paramount Network in 2019. A cast announcement is coming.
 Producer of super hit movies like the “Twilight” saga and “The Devil Wears Prada,” Karen Rosenfelt will be executive producer of the series, along with Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony award-winning producing legend, Scott Rudin, who had also created the original movie. Tony Hernandez of JAX Media will also serve as Executive Producer.
Brad Gardner, Senior Vice President, Development and Original Programming, Paramount Network and TV Land, will serve as the executive in charge of production and will oversee the project for the network.

Before moving to Paramount Network, the project had initially been in development at fellow Viacom network TV Land. Paramount Network was itself Spike TV before it got rebranded back in January. So far, the network has launched the limited series “Waco”, which stars Taylor Kitsch as the cult leader David Koresh.

It was also set to premiere the Kevin Costner-led drama “Yellowstone” on June 20, and the Alicia Silverstone comedy “American Woman” on June 7. Apart from those, the TV Land series “Nobodies” is also aired on Paramount Network, including several other Spike TV originals like “Ink Master,” “Lip Sync Battle,” and “Bar Rescue” all still air on Paramount Network as well.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Video: BETTE MIDLER ON THE DOWNSIDE OF STARDOM – The Mike Walsh Show 1980

So much of TV entertainment footage in the past has been wiped out, including ABC-TV’s Countdown and GTK. However the National Film & Sound Archive has started to put online footage from the daytime The Mike Walsh Show which ran in the 1970s and 1980s to a weekly audience of 5 million. Footage included Johnny Cash, Bette Midler, Village People and Queensland singing nun Sister Stansilaus Zgrajewski, whose debut appearance caused such a storm (a good one) that she was invited back the next day.

Singer, actress and comedian Bette Midler talks about the downsides of being famous, such as no longer being able to go to the supermarket. She says ‘If I go in California, they follow me and look at what I’ve bought. They judge what I’m buying … they’re really pissed off if I’m buying Spam!’

Keep watching the clip until the end because there’s a fantastic comedy moment where a woman has fallen asleep in the audience and Walsh notices. Midler’s reaction is very funny. This is a great example of the things that can go wrong on live television and how skilled hosts and comedians can milk them.

To see a clip: Click Here

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

From An Intimate Evening With Bette

From An Intimate Evening With Bette: “Did you like the TV special?” I did…I was real proud of it. The network was very nice, too. The only thing they asked me not to do was mention drugs. Gee..I didn’t realise drugs were the enemy in television, I thought they were the sponsor… Melody Maker, 1978) – Bette Midler

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

BetteBack March 10, 1975: Why Did Bette Midler Drop Out Of Sight?

Lima News
March 10, 1975

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Q: Didn’t Bette Midler drop out of sight for awhile ? Who got her back to work? — H.P., N.Y., N.Y.

A: Yes, she did drop out because she got scared. She felt her voice had lost its unique quality and she feared she might not get it back to its proper timbre. But her agents finally convinced Bette she had to end her year’s hiatus. So she started with that Cher guest spot on TV. is set to work again on Broadway and do a tour, plus a recent press conference and lots of publicity. Phil Greenwald, the Sol Hurok of the Catskills, is negotiating to bring the Divine Miss M. to the Concord Hotel.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

The 25 Absolute Best Halloween Movies to Watch Right Now

Time
The 25 Absolute Best Halloween Movies to Watch Right Now
Kate Samuelson
Oct 18, 2017

Whether you’re a scary movie junkie or more of a hide-under-the-blanket kind of viewer, this ultimate list of the best Halloween movies is guaranteed to contain something you’ll want to watch this Oct. 31.

From the original Halloween to the cult classic Hocus Pocus, TIME has collated a list of the best scary, horror-filled, classic and Disney Halloween movies — as well as the best Halloween movies of 2017 so far.

Best Halloween Movies of 2017 (So Far)

Get Out

Arguably one of the best films of 2017 (TIME’s movie critic described it as “the horror movie we need today“), Jordan Peele‘s directorial debut Get Out is an extraordinary creepy tale centered around a black man meeting his white girlfriend’s suburban family for the first time. Sure, Get Out isn’t technically a Halloween movieIn Peele’s words, it “explores why black people are afraid of white people.” But if you’re looking for a socially conscious Halloween watch — that also happens to be pretty scary — this thriller will do the trick. Read More

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Out On Film: ‘Freak Show’ illustrates red state hysteria; Bette Midler Comes Up In Conversation

Georgia Voice
Out On Film: ‘Freak Show’ illustrates red state hysteria
By Shannon Hames
October 3, 2017

2016-08-07_4-47-44

When Out on Film released the roster for 2017’s festival, “Freak Show” was one of the films set to be screened at the festival on Oct. 5 at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. This brilliant movie is about boldly confident, eccentric gay teen Billy Bloom, raised by a fabulous (although alcoholic mother) played by Bette Midler. Billy is forced to move to a “red state” to live with his Southern father in a small town where Christ is king and girls are homecoming queens — that is, until Billy decides to run.

Produced by Drew Barrymore, “Freak Show” was the directorial debut of Trudie Styler (who also happens to be the wife of Sting). She sat down with Georgia Voice to discuss the film.

Georgia Voice: When I screened the film, I was awestruck that this was the first film that you directed and that you actually stepped in to direct it at the 11th hour?

Styler: I did. I was already on board to produce it, so we’d already done a lot of the foundation work with the story and writers. There was a director in place and then, the director had another commitment to a movie that he had been nurturing and that one, he felt, was more timely than ours. That left a vacancy for the director’s chair.

As I worked so hard with him on it and in my life as a producer and an actress, I felt like they might consider me. I am hands on, I’m creative, I know a lot about this film and, frankly, I felt it might be time. So I asked them to kindly consider my request. I was so touched by their response, which was a very enthusiastic “Yes, please!” Once I felt their enthusiasm, that gave me additional confidence to jump in and get started.

Abigail Breslin and Trudie Styler of ‘Freak Show’
Actress Abigail Breslin and director Trudie Styler of ‘Freak Show,’ screening Oct. at Out On Film. (Publicity photo)
Was there ever a point when you ever doubted your ability?

There was no time to doubt anything because by the time we had this change, we had started pre-production and didn’t have a cast. The first thing that I did was enlist the wonderful Bette Midler, who triggered some of the finances, obviously.

The next thing was to look for our “Billy.” That was quite the challenging task. We certainly saw a lot of great young actors but it’s such a monumentally big part going through the A to Z of emotions, colors, textures and nuancing – he’s always on the screen. The role needed an actor of great dimension. I flew to England to audition some actors there. When Alex Lawson walked in, I think within about five minutes, I really felt, “Oh, this is Billy.” I don’t think we were wrong about that. His portrayal of Billy Bloom was quite extraordinary.

I agree! And the casting of Larry Pine as Billy’s father was perfect. It’s uncanny how much they look alike and how well they worked off of each other.

Oh thank you for saying that! It’s also been said before and we have the wonderful Avy Kaufmann to thank for the casting.

I was delighted by John McEnroe’s performance. I wouldn’t expect that a former tennis superstar would play the coach in such a convincing way. Was that his acting skills or was it your acumen as a director?

I’ve known John for many years. I had this notion that this retired athlete could sort of find his way into a high school. I called his agent and asked if he thought John would consider this. He said, “Obviously, to play himself?” I said, “No! I don’t want him to play himself! I want him to play Coach Carter.” He said, “Oh, that’s a first! You’d better ask him yourself.” I called John to ask and he said, “Well, I don’t know. What’s [the character] like?” I said, “Well, he’s kind of obnoxious but he’s got his heart in the right place and I think you could easily do that, John.” [laughs]

He was such a good sport and I do think he’s given a very realistic performance. He was a dream to direct. He didn’t mind whatever I threw at him, whatever I said. He was completely professional about that.

One of the things I really liked about the film, as I started watching it, I felt the familiar plot formula begin to unfold. I had my ideas about how things would happen between characters. I loved that it didn’t happen the way I expected it to. It sort of happened how it might in real life where you don’t always have huge, dramatic victories. As a lesbian, my victories might be that I make an unexpected friend in someone who is very religious or maybe get unexpected support from straight allies.

Exactly. We wanted to reflect how life is and not how life is in a rose-tinted world. Of course there were stars in Billy’s eyes for Flip, but ultimately, Flip is discovered to be an incredibly decent person who becomes Billy’s champion. We all know the great value that we put in real friendships that are enduring and takes us through our lives. We can fall in love and out of love as youngsters and those relationships do not endure. The writers and I felt it was very important that we portray something that is more in keeping with the realism of life.

When we look at the character of Celia Weston’s Florence, it’s juxtaposed to the awful, Bible-thumping fundamentalist Lynnette, brilliantly played by Abigail Breslin. Florence, who is a real Christian, shows Billy lots of compassion even though she doesn’t really understand who he is. She doesn’t judge him. She’s kind to him and becomes his great ally.

She also reminded Billy’s father, William, that Billy was the son that they prayed for and that it was Florence who taught William how to pray. The good aspect of spiritual teaching and Christianity rears its head there. I think that there’s a lot of bad stuff written nowadays about religion but, of course, there is always an upside to religious or spiritual paths when they’re at their best. Kindness and compassion, understanding, not judging… it’s there but sometimes, the more obnoxious voices drown out that quiet strength.

When I came out of the closet as a lesbian, I was married to a fundamental evangelical Christian and going to a church that practiced “Biblical discipline.” They sent elders to my parents’ house to meet with me to ask me to repent of being gay. I told them that would be like me trying to repent for having green eyes. So they held a public worship service where they prayed for the death of my sin, including my physical death.

What!?

Yes. The church helped connect my ex-husband with an attorney. I lost custody of my children. I hadn’t worked outside the home, had no education, no money, nothing. I had to leave with only my car and my clothes. So the scene where Florence had that conversation with Billy’s dad about how he was the son that they prayed for, it made me remember that although my experience in church ended badly, I did have many such uplifting and positive moments with other ‘Florence’ type of Christians. It also made me curious that when you premiered the movie in Berlin, did people believe that things like this really do happen in “red states”?

Well, Shannon, first of all, that story you just shared with me has really shaken me and thank you for sharing some of your personal story. Gosh, what a lot you’ve been through! That’s quite something.

To your question about Berlin vis-a-vis homophobia and the red state – we never mentioned where it is. I didn’t want to mention where it was. There’s no point. It’s like exonerating one and blaming another. It’s not what this movie’s about.

In Berlin, I was criticized by young [15-16 year-old] members of the audience. They said, “Come on! This is far-fetched. People aren’t homophobic anymore. That all happened over 30 years ago! This movie isn’t up to date, anymore.”

These young people were raised in an atmosphere of absolute libertarian equality. Women have absolutely as many rights. All thanks to the formidable Angela Merkel, who has held that seat for at least a dozen years and will probably will be re-elected soon. Germany has certainly repaired itself emotionally to the extent that its 15-year-olds there can say “Homophobia? What? Nonsense!”

Although great that they feel that they live in a much fairer environment, more power to them. But we know the reality is that it’s certainly not the case in the United States and in many other parts of the world.

One last question about the religious undertones in the film: it didn’t escape my notice that when Billy returned to school after being beaten into a coma, there was an anti-bullying pep rally for him and then you had him in the cafeteria surrounded by kids in a scene that looked exactly like DaVinci’s “Last Supper” painting. Tell me about that symbolism.

You got that! Yes! Billy listened to Flip who told him, “Start wearing an Izod and blue jeans and the guys will accept you; you’ll be fine.” So he complies. He’s got his t-shirt and blue jeans on when he returns to school.

While he’s been recovering in the hospital for a month, everyone has had a big talking to about bullying. So we put him in the middle of the table in the place of Jesus and we re-created the DaVinci tableau. I did it because he comes back and within seconds, the bullying begins again and he’s betrayed. And ultimately, he’s betrayed by Flip (who is in the position of Judas in the painting scene) when he yells out, “Get off me, you homo!”

It’s a little nod to it’s not if you’re gay. It’s not what you wear. It’s who you are. And he gets called out even though he’s in the uniform du jour of jeans and a t-shirt. That wasn’t going to stop it. And later on, when he’s wearing that ravishing mermaid dress, he says, “No. I’m sick of it. I got chased away at school and I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I can’t handle this anymore.” Then he says rather naughtily, “Now let’s have a drink!” [laughs]

I loved that scene. The bubbles made it. I know you need to go, but is there anything that you would like to say to the LGBT community in Atlanta and, specifically, to the people who will be screening your movie at Out on Film?

Please let everybody know that it’s only because of another travel commitment that I cannot attend. I am so proud of the fact that the movie will be screened at the festival and I’ll be there in spirit. I hope to see you guys the next time. I truly am sorry not to be with them. I love to know how it plays. Fingers crossed, I hope it will play well and that Atlanta will be a good audience for it.

When Out on Film released the roster for 2017’s festival, “Freak Show” was one of the films set to be screened at the festival on Oct. 5 at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. This brilliant movie is about boldly confident, eccentric gay teen Billy Bloom, raised by a fabulous (although alcoholic mother) played by Bette Midler. Billy is forced to move to a “red state” to live with his Southern father in a small town where Christ is king and girls are homecoming queens — that is, until Billy decides to run.

Produced by Drew Barrymore, “Freak Show” was the directorial debut of Trudie Styler (who also happens to be the wife of Sting). She sat down with Georgia Voice to discuss the film.

Georgia Voice: When I screened the film, I was awestruck that this was the first film that you directed and that you actually stepped in to direct it at the 11th hour?

Styler: I did. I was already on board to produce it, so we’d already done a lot of the foundation work with the story and writers. There was a director in place and then, the director had another commitment to a movie that he had been nurturing and that one, he felt, was more timely than ours. That left a vacancy for the director’s chair.

As I worked so hard with him on it and in my life as a producer and an actress, I felt like they might consider me. I am hands on, I’m creative, I know a lot about this film and, frankly, I felt it might be time. So I asked them to kindly consider my request. I was so touched by their response, which was a very enthusiastic “Yes, please!” Once I felt their enthusiasm, that gave me additional confidence to jump in and get started.

Abigail Breslin and Trudie Styler of ‘Freak Show’
Actress Abigail Breslin and director Trudie Styler of ‘Freak Show,’ screening Oct. at Out On Film. (Publicity photo)
Was there ever a point when you ever doubted your ability?

There was no time to doubt anything because by the time we had this change, we had started pre-production and didn’t have a cast. The first thing that I did was enlist the wonderful Bette Midler, who triggered some of the finances, obviously.

The next thing was to look for our “Billy.” That was quite the challenging task. We certainly saw a lot of great young actors but it’s such a monumentally big part going through the A to Z of emotions, colors, textures and nuancing – he’s always on the screen. The role needed an actor of great dimension. I flew to England to audition some actors there. When Alex Lawson walked in, I think within about five minutes, I really felt, “Oh, this is Billy.” I don’t think we were wrong about that. His portrayal of Billy Bloom was quite extraordinary.

I agree! And the casting of Larry Pine as Billy’s father was perfect. It’s uncanny how much they look alike and how well they worked off of each other.

Oh thank you for saying that! It’s also been said before and we have the wonderful Avy Kaufmann to thank for the casting.

I was delighted by John McEnroe’s performance. I wouldn’t expect that a former tennis superstar would play the coach in such a convincing way. Was that his acting skills or was it your acumen as a director?

I’ve known John for many years. I had this notion that this retired athlete could sort of find his way into a high school. I called his agent and asked if he thought John would consider this. He said, “Obviously, to play himself?” I said, “No! I don’t want him to play himself! I want him to play Coach Carter.” He said, “Oh, that’s a first! You’d better ask him yourself.” I called John to ask and he said, “Well, I don’t know. What’s [the character] like?” I said, “Well, he’s kind of obnoxious but he’s got his heart in the right place and I think you could easily do that, John.” [laughs]

He was such a good sport and I do think he’s given a very realistic performance. He was a dream to direct. He didn’t mind whatever I threw at him, whatever I said. He was completely professional about that.

One of the things I really liked about the film, as I started watching it, I felt the familiar plot formula begin to unfold. I had my ideas about how things would happen between characters. I loved that it didn’t happen the way I expected it to. It sort of happened how it might in real life where you don’t always have huge, dramatic victories. As a lesbian, my victories might be that I make an unexpected friend in someone who is very religious or maybe get unexpected support from straight allies.

Exactly. We wanted to reflect how life is and not how life is in a rose-tinted world. Of course there were stars in Billy’s eyes for Flip, but ultimately, Flip is discovered to be an incredibly decent person who becomes Billy’s champion. We all know the great value that we put in real friendships that are enduring and takes us through our lives. We can fall in love and out of love as youngsters and those relationships do not endure. The writers and I felt it was very important that we portray something that is more in keeping with the realism of life.

When we look at the character of Celia Weston’s Florence, it’s juxtaposed to the awful, Bible-thumping fundamentalist Lynnette, brilliantly played by Abigail Breslin. Florence, who is a real Christian, shows Billy lots of compassion even though she doesn’t really understand who he is. She doesn’t judge him. She’s kind to him and becomes his great ally.

She also reminded Billy’s father, William, that Billy was the son that they prayed for and that it was Florence who taught William how to pray. The good aspect of spiritual teaching and Christianity rears its head there. I think that there’s a lot of bad stuff written nowadays about religion but, of course, there is always an upside to religious or spiritual paths when they’re at their best. Kindness and compassion, understanding, not judging… it’s there but sometimes, the more obnoxious voices drown out that quiet strength.

When I came out of the closet as a lesbian, I was married to a fundamental evangelical Christian and going to a church that practiced “Biblical discipline.” They sent elders to my parents’ house to meet with me to ask me to repent of being gay. I told them that would be like me trying to repent for having green eyes. So they held a public worship service where they prayed for the death of my sin, including my physical death.

What!?

Yes. The church helped connect my ex-husband with an attorney. I lost custody of my children. I hadn’t worked outside the home, had no education, no money, nothing. I had to leave with only my car and my clothes. So the scene where Florence had that conversation with Billy’s dad about how he was the son that they prayed for, it made me remember that although my experience in church ended badly, I did have many such uplifting and positive moments with other ‘Florence’ type of Christians. It also made me curious that when you premiered the movie in Berlin, did people believe that things like this really do happen in “red states”?

Well, Shannon, first of all, that story you just shared with me has really shaken me and thank you for sharing some of your personal story. Gosh, what a lot you’ve been through! That’s quite something.

To your question about Berlin vis-a-vis homophobia and the red state – we never mentioned where it is. I didn’t want to mention where it was. There’s no point. It’s like exonerating one and blaming another. It’s not what this movie’s about.

In Berlin, I was criticized by young [15-16 year-old] members of the audience. They said, “Come on! This is far-fetched. People aren’t homophobic anymore. That all happened over 30 years ago! This movie isn’t up to date, anymore.”

These young people were raised in an atmosphere of absolute libertarian equality. Women have absolutely as many rights. All thanks to the formidable Angela Merkel, who has held that seat for at least a dozen years and will probably will be re-elected soon. Germany has certainly repaired itself emotionally to the extent that its 15-year-olds there can say “Homophobia? What? Nonsense!”

Although great that they feel that they live in a much fairer environment, more power to them. But we know the reality is that it’s certainly not the case in the United States and in many other parts of the world.

One last question about the religious undertones in the film: it didn’t escape my notice that when Billy returned to school after being beaten into a coma, there was an anti-bullying pep rally for him and then you had him in the cafeteria surrounded by kids in a scene that looked exactly like DaVinci’s “Last Supper” painting. Tell me about that symbolism.

You got that! Yes! Billy listened to Flip who told him, “Start wearing an Izod and blue jeans and the guys will accept you; you’ll be fine.” So he complies. He’s got his t-shirt and blue jeans on when he returns to school.

While he’s been recovering in the hospital for a month, everyone has had a big talking to about bullying. So we put him in the middle of the table in the place of Jesus and we re-created the DaVinci tableau. I did it because he comes back and within seconds, the bullying begins again and he’s betrayed. And ultimately, he’s betrayed by Flip (who is in the position of Judas in the painting scene) when he yells out, “Get off me, you homo!”

It’s a little nod to it’s not if you’re gay. It’s not what you wear. It’s who you are. And he gets called out even though he’s in the uniform du jour of jeans and a t-shirt. That wasn’t going to stop it. And later on, when he’s wearing that ravishing mermaid dress, he says, “No. I’m sick of it. I got chased away at school and I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I can’t handle this anymore.” Then he says rather naughtily, “Now let’s have a drink!” [laughs]

I loved that scene. The bubbles made it. I know you need to go, but is there anything that you would like to say to the LGBT community in Atlanta and, specifically, to the people who will be screening your movie at Out on Film?

Please let everybody know that it’s only because of another travel commitment that I cannot attend. I am so proud of the fact that the movie will be screened at the festival and I’ll be there in spirit. I hope to see you guys the next time. I truly am sorry not to be with them. I love to know how it plays. Fingers crossed, I hope it will play well and that Atlanta will be a good audience for it.

When Out on Film released the roster for 2017’s festival, “Freak Show” was one of the films set to be screened at the festival on Oct. 5 at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. This brilliant movie is about boldly confident, eccentric gay teen Billy Bloom, raised by a fabulous (although alcoholic mother) played by Bette Midler. Billy is forced to move to a “red state” to live with his Southern father in a small town where Christ is king and girls are homecoming queens — that is, until Billy decides to run.

Produced by Drew Barrymore, “Freak Show” was the directorial debut of Trudie Styler (who also happens to be the wife of Sting). She sat down with Georgia Voice to discuss the film.

Georgia Voice: When I screened the film, I was awestruck that this was the first film that you directed and that you actually stepped in to direct it at the 11th hour?

Styler: I did. I was already on board to produce it, so we’d already done a lot of the foundation work with the story and writers. There was a director in place and then, the director had another commitment to a movie that he had been nurturing and that one, he felt, was more timely than ours. That left a vacancy for the director’s chair.

As I worked so hard with him on it and in my life as a producer and an actress, I felt like they might consider me. I am hands on, I’m creative, I know a lot about this film and, frankly, I felt it might be time. So I asked them to kindly consider my request. I was so touched by their response, which was a very enthusiastic “Yes, please!” Once I felt their enthusiasm, that gave me additional confidence to jump in and get started.

Abigail Breslin and Trudie Styler of ‘Freak Show’
Actress Abigail Breslin and director Trudie Styler of ‘Freak Show,’ screening Oct. at Out On Film. (Publicity photo)
Was there ever a point when you ever doubted your ability?

There was no time to doubt anything because by the time we had this change, we had started pre-production and didn’t have a cast. The first thing that I did was enlist the wonderful Bette Midler, who triggered some of the finances, obviously.

The next thing was to look for our “Billy.” That was quite the challenging task. We certainly saw a lot of great young actors but it’s such a monumentally big part going through the A to Z of emotions, colors, textures and nuancing – he’s always on the screen. The role needed an actor of great dimension. I flew to England to audition some actors there. When Alex Lawson walked in, I think within about five minutes, I really felt, “Oh, this is Billy.” I don’t think we were wrong about that. His portrayal of Billy Bloom was quite extraordinary.

I agree! And the casting of Larry Pine as Billy’s father was perfect. It’s uncanny how much they look alike and how well they worked off of each other.

Oh thank you for saying that! It’s also been said before and we have the wonderful Avy Kaufmann to thank for the casting.

I was delighted by John McEnroe’s performance. I wouldn’t expect that a former tennis superstar would play the coach in such a convincing way. Was that his acting skills or was it your acumen as a director?

I’ve known John for many years. I had this notion that this retired athlete could sort of find his way into a high school. I called his agent and asked if he thought John would consider this. He said, “Obviously, to play himself?” I said, “No! I don’t want him to play himself! I want him to play Coach Carter.” He said, “Oh, that’s a first! You’d better ask him yourself.” I called John to ask and he said, “Well, I don’t know. What’s [the character] like?” I said, “Well, he’s kind of obnoxious but he’s got his heart in the right place and I think you could easily do that, John.” [laughs]

He was such a good sport and I do think he’s given a very realistic performance. He was a dream to direct. He didn’t mind whatever I threw at him, whatever I said. He was completely professional about that.

One of the things I really liked about the film, as I started watching it, I felt the familiar plot formula begin to unfold. I had my ideas about how things would happen between characters. I loved that it didn’t happen the way I expected it to. It sort of happened how it might in real life where you don’t always have huge, dramatic victories. As a lesbian, my victories might be that I make an unexpected friend in someone who is very religious or maybe get unexpected support from straight allies.

Exactly. We wanted to reflect how life is and not how life is in a rose-tinted world. Of course there were stars in Billy’s eyes for Flip, but ultimately, Flip is discovered to be an incredibly decent person who becomes Billy’s champion. We all know the great value that we put in real friendships that are enduring and takes us through our lives. We can fall in love and out of love as youngsters and those relationships do not endure. The writers and I felt it was very important that we portray something that is more in keeping with the realism of life.

When we look at the character of Celia Weston’s Florence, it’s juxtaposed to the awful, Bible-thumping fundamentalist Lynnette, brilliantly played by Abigail Breslin. Florence, who is a real Christian, shows Billy lots of compassion even though she doesn’t really understand who he is. She doesn’t judge him. She’s kind to him and becomes his great ally.

She also reminded Billy’s father, William, that Billy was the son that they prayed for and that it was Florence who taught William how to pray. The good aspect of spiritual teaching and Christianity rears its head there. I think that there’s a lot of bad stuff written nowadays about religion but, of course, there is always an upside to religious or spiritual paths when they’re at their best. Kindness and compassion, understanding, not judging… it’s there but sometimes, the more obnoxious voices drown out that quiet strength.

When I came out of the closet as a lesbian, I was married to a fundamental evangelical Christian and going to a church that practiced “Biblical discipline.” They sent elders to my parents’ house to meet with me to ask me to repent of being gay. I told them that would be like me trying to repent for having green eyes. So they held a public worship service where they prayed for the death of my sin, including my physical death.

What!?

Yes. The church helped connect my ex-husband with an attorney. I lost custody of my children. I hadn’t worked outside the home, had no education, no money, nothing. I had to leave with only my car and my clothes. So the scene where Florence had that conversation with Billy’s dad about how he was the son that they prayed for, it made me remember that although my experience in church ended badly, I did have many such uplifting and positive moments with other ‘Florence’ type of Christians. It also made me curious that when you premiered the movie in Berlin, did people believe that things like this really do happen in “red states”?

Well, Shannon, first of all, that story you just shared with me has really shaken me and thank you for sharing some of your personal story. Gosh, what a lot you’ve been through! That’s quite something.

To your question about Berlin vis-a-vis homophobia and the red state – we never mentioned where it is. I didn’t want to mention where it was. There’s no point. It’s like exonerating one and blaming another. It’s not what this movie’s about.

In Berlin, I was criticized by young [15-16 year-old] members of the audience. They said, “Come on! This is far-fetched. People aren’t homophobic anymore. That all happened over 30 years ago! This movie isn’t up to date, anymore.”

These young people were raised in an atmosphere of absolute libertarian equality. Women have absolutely as many rights. All thanks to the formidable Angela Merkel, who has held that seat for at least a dozen years and will probably will be re-elected soon. Germany has certainly repaired itself emotionally to the extent that its 15-year-olds there can say “Homophobia? What? Nonsense!”

Although great that they feel that they live in a much fairer environment, more power to them. But we know the reality is that it’s certainly not the case in the United States and in many other parts of the world.

One last question about the religious undertones in the film: it didn’t escape my notice that when Billy returned to school after being beaten into a coma, there was an anti-bullying pep rally for him and then you had him in the cafeteria surrounded by kids in a scene that looked exactly like DaVinci’s “Last Supper” painting. Tell me about that symbolism.

You got that! Yes! Billy listened to Flip who told him, “Start wearing an Izod and blue jeans and the guys will accept you; you’ll be fine.” So he complies. He’s got his t-shirt and blue jeans on when he returns to school.

While he’s been recovering in the hospital for a month, everyone has had a big talking to about bullying. So we put him in the middle of the table in the place of Jesus and we re-created the DaVinci tableau. I did it because he comes back and within seconds, the bullying begins again and he’s betrayed. And ultimately, he’s betrayed by Flip (who is in the position of Judas in the painting scene) when he yells out, “Get off me, you homo!”

It’s a little nod to it’s not if you’re gay. It’s not what you wear. It’s who you are. And he gets called out even though he’s in the uniform du jour of jeans and a t-shirt. That wasn’t going to stop it. And later on, when he’s wearing that ravishing mermaid dress, he says, “No. I’m sick of it. I got chased away at school and I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I can’t handle this anymore.” Then he says rather naughtily, “Now let’s have a drink!” [laughs]

I loved that scene. The bubbles made it. I know you need to go, but is there anything that you would like to say to the LGBT community in Atlanta and, specifically, to the people who will be screening your movie at Out on Film?

Please let everybody know that it’s only because of another travel commitment that I cannot attend. I am so proud of the fact that the movie will be screened at the festival and I’ll be there in spirit. I hope to see you guys the next time. I truly am sorry not to be with them. I love to know how it plays. Fingers crossed, I hope it will play well and that Atlanta will be a good audience for it.

When Out on Film released the roster for 2017’s festival, “Freak Show” was one of the films set to be screened at the festival on Oct. 5 at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. This brilliant movie is about boldly confident, eccentric gay teen Billy Bloom, raised by a fabulous (although alcoholic mother) played by Bette Midler. Billy is forced to move to a “red state” to live with his Southern father in a small town where Christ is king and girls are homecoming queens — that is, until Billy decides to run.

Produced by Drew Barrymore, “Freak Show” was the directorial debut of Trudie Styler (who also happens to be the wife of Sting). She sat down with Georgia Voice to discuss the film.

Georgia Voice: When I screened the film, I was awestruck that this was the first film that you directed and that you actually stepped in to direct it at the 11th hour?

Styler: I did. I was already on board to produce it, so we’d already done a lot of the foundation work with the story and writers. There was a director in place and then, the director had another commitment to a movie that he had been nurturing and that one, he felt, was more timely than ours. That left a vacancy for the director’s chair.

As I worked so hard with him on it and in my life as a producer and an actress, I felt like they might consider me. I am hands on, I’m creative, I know a lot about this film and, frankly, I felt it might be time. So I asked them to kindly consider my request. I was so touched by their response, which was a very enthusiastic “Yes, please!” Once I felt their enthusiasm, that gave me additional confidence to jump in and get started.

Abigail Breslin and Trudie Styler of ‘Freak Show’
Actress Abigail Breslin and director Trudie Styler of ‘Freak Show,’ screening Oct. at Out On Film. (Publicity photo)
Was there ever a point when you ever doubted your ability?

There was no time to doubt anything because by the time we had this change, we had started pre-production and didn’t have a cast. The first thing that I did was enlist the wonderful Bette Midler, who triggered some of the finances, obviously.

The next thing was to look for our “Billy.” That was quite the challenging task. We certainly saw a lot of great young actors but it’s such a monumentally big part going through the A to Z of emotions, colors, textures and nuancing – he’s always on the screen. The role needed an actor of great dimension. I flew to England to audition some actors there. When Alex Lawson walked in, I think within about five minutes, I really felt, “Oh, this is Billy.” I don’t think we were wrong about that. His portrayal of Billy Bloom was quite extraordinary.

I agree! And the casting of Larry Pine as Billy’s father was perfect. It’s uncanny how much they look alike and how well they worked off of each other.

Oh thank you for saying that! It’s also been said before and we have the wonderful Avy Kaufmann to thank for the casting.

I was delighted by John McEnroe’s performance. I wouldn’t expect that a former tennis superstar would play the coach in such a convincing way. Was that his acting skills or was it your acumen as a director?

I’ve known John for many years. I had this notion that this retired athlete could sort of find his way into a high school. I called his agent and asked if he thought John would consider this. He said, “Obviously, to play himself?” I said, “No! I don’t want him to play himself! I want him to play Coach Carter.” He said, “Oh, that’s a first! You’d better ask him yourself.” I called John to ask and he said, “Well, I don’t know. What’s [the character] like?” I said, “Well, he’s kind of obnoxious but he’s got his heart in the right place and I think you could easily do that, John.” [laughs]

He was such a good sport and I do think he’s given a very realistic performance. He was a dream to direct. He didn’t mind whatever I threw at him, whatever I said. He was completely professional about that.

One of the things I really liked about the film, as I started watching it, I felt the familiar plot formula begin to unfold. I had my ideas about how things would happen between characters. I loved that it didn’t happen the way I expected it to. It sort of happened how it might in real life where you don’t always have huge, dramatic victories. As a lesbian, my victories might be that I make an unexpected friend in someone who is very religious or maybe get unexpected support from straight allies.

Exactly. We wanted to reflect how life is and not how life is in a rose-tinted world. Of course there were stars in Billy’s eyes for Flip, but ultimately, Flip is discovered to be an incredibly decent person who becomes Billy’s champion. We all know the great value that we put in real friendships that are enduring and takes us through our lives. We can fall in love and out of love as youngsters and those relationships do not endure. The writers and I felt it was very important that we portray something that is more in keeping with the realism of life.

When we look at the character of Celia Weston’s Florence, it’s juxtaposed to the awful, Bible-thumping fundamentalist Lynnette, brilliantly played by Abigail Breslin. Florence, who is a real Christian, shows Billy lots of compassion even though she doesn’t really understand who he is. She doesn’t judge him. She’s kind to him and becomes his great ally.

She also reminded Billy’s father, William, that Billy was the son that they prayed for and that it was Florence who taught William how to pray. The good aspect of spiritual teaching and Christianity rears its head there. I think that there’s a lot of bad stuff written nowadays about religion but, of course, there is always an upside to religious or spiritual paths when they’re at their best. Kindness and compassion, understanding, not judging… it’s there but sometimes, the more obnoxious voices drown out that quiet strength.

When I came out of the closet as a lesbian, I was married to a fundamental evangelical Christian and going to a church that practiced “Biblical discipline.” They sent elders to my parents’ house to meet with me to ask me to repent of being gay. I told them that would be like me trying to repent for having green eyes. So they held a public worship service where they prayed for the death of my sin, including my physical death.

What!?

Yes. The church helped connect my ex-husband with an attorney. I lost custody of my children. I hadn’t worked outside the home, had no education, no money, nothing. I had to leave with only my car and my clothes. So the scene where Florence had that conversation with Billy’s dad about how he was the son that they prayed for, it made me remember that although my experience in church ended badly, I did have many such uplifting and positive moments with other ‘Florence’ type of Christians. It also made me curious that when you premiered the movie in Berlin, did people believe that things like this really do happen in “red states”?

Well, Shannon, first of all, that story you just shared with me has really shaken me and thank you for sharing some of your personal story. Gosh, what a lot you’ve been through! That’s quite something.

To your question about Berlin vis-a-vis homophobia and the red state – we never mentioned where it is. I didn’t want to mention where it was. There’s no point. It’s like exonerating one and blaming another. It’s not what this movie’s about.

In Berlin, I was criticized by young [15-16 year-old] members of the audience. They said, “Come on! This is far-fetched. People aren’t homophobic anymore. That all happened over 30 years ago! This movie isn’t up to date, anymore.”

These young people were raised in an atmosphere of absolute libertarian equality. Women have absolutely as many rights. All thanks to the formidable Angela Merkel, who has held that seat for at least a dozen years and will probably will be re-elected soon. Germany has certainly repaired itself emotionally to the extent that its 15-year-olds there can say “Homophobia? What? Nonsense!”

Although great that they feel that they live in a much fairer environment, more power to them. But we know the reality is that it’s certainly not the case in the United States and in many other parts of the world.

One last question about the religious undertones in the film: it didn’t escape my notice that when Billy returned to school after being beaten into a coma, there was an anti-bullying pep rally for him and then you had him in the cafeteria surrounded by kids in a scene that looked exactly like DaVinci’s “Last Supper” painting. Tell me about that symbolism.

You got that! Yes! Billy listened to Flip who told him, “Start wearing an Izod and blue jeans and the guys will accept you; you’ll be fine.” So he complies. He’s got his t-shirt and blue jeans on when he returns to school.

While he’s been recovering in the hospital for a month, everyone has had a big talking to about bullying. So we put him in the middle of the table in the place of Jesus and we re-created the DaVinci tableau. I did it because he comes back and within seconds, the bullying begins again and he’s betrayed. And ultimately, he’s betrayed by Flip (who is in the position of Judas in the painting scene) when he yells out, “Get off me, you homo!”

It’s a little nod to it’s not if you’re gay. It’s not what you wear. It’s who you are. And he gets called out even though he’s in the uniform du jour of jeans and a t-shirt. That wasn’t going to stop it. And later on, when he’s wearing that ravishing mermaid dress, he says, “No. I’m sick of it. I got chased away at school and I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I can’t handle this anymore.” Then he says rather naughtily, “Now let’s have a drink!” [laughs]

I loved that scene. The bubbles made it. I know you need to go, but is there anything that you would like to say to the LGBT community in Atlanta and, specifically, to the people who will be screening your movie at Out on Film?

Please let everybody know that it’s only because of another travel commitment that I cannot attend. I am so proud of the fact that the movie will be screened at the festival and I’ll be there in spirit. I hope to see you guys the next time. I truly am sorry not to be with them. I love to know how it plays. Fingers crossed, I hope it will play well and that Atlanta will be a good audience for it. a good audience for it.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Notable reaction to the death of Mary Tyler Moore

San Francisco Chronicle
Notable reaction to the death of Mary Tyler Moore
January 25, 2017

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Reaction to the death of Mary Tyler Moore at age 80:

“There are no words. She was THE BEST! We always said that we changed each other’s lives for the better.” — Dick Van Dyke, TV husband on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” via Twitter

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“She’ll last forever, as long as there’s television. Year after year, we’ll see her face in front of us.” — Carl Reiner, in an interview with The Associated Press

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“Mary’s energy, spirit and talent created a new bright spot in the television landscape and she will be very much missed. The courage she displayed in taking on a role,(“Ordinary People”), darker than anything she had ever done, was brave and enormously powerful.” — Robert Redford, director of “Ordinary People,” in a statement

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“A great lady I loved and owe so much to has left us. I will miss her. I will never be able to repay her for the blessings that she gave me.” — Ed Asner, co-star on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” via Twitter

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“Even now looking at this picture I want to cry. I still can’t believe Mary Tyler Moore touched my face. Will love her 4 ever.” — Oprah Winfrey, of photo with her and Moore at TV interview, via Twitter

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“I am deeply saddened by the news of Mary’s passing. She was a truly amazing person, a great friend, and an inspiration to all. I will always be grateful for her kindness and thankful beyond words for knowing her.

LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 29: Actress Mary Tyler Moore speaks onstage during The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards broadcast on TNT/TBS at The Shrine Auditorium on January 29, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  TV icon Mary Tyler Moore dead at 80
She will be missed greatly.” — Timothy Hutton, co-star in “Ordinary People, in a statement

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“My heart goes out to her husband, Robert — he was never more than a touch away from her. The picture that we all have of her, that’s how she was — sweet, kind, so tender, so delicate. She was America’s sweetheart.” — Cloris Leachman, co-star on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” in a statement

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“Mary was America’s sweetheart and she was mine also. I was the luckiest guy in the world just sitting next to her and looking at her beautiful face … and legs!” — Gavin MacLeod, co-star on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” in a statement

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“#MaryTylerMoore was a dear friend and a truly great person. A fighter. Rest in peace, MTM.” — Larry King, via Twitter

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“Thank you, Mary Tyler Moore, for all you have given us.” — Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, via Twitter

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“Mary Tyler Moore will always be immortalized in Minnesota. My thoughts are with her family and loved ones today.” — Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., via Twitter

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“Mary Tyler Moore will always be a Minnesota icon. The Mary Tyler Moore Show shared Minneapolis and our entire state with the world, as a place where everyone has a chance to work hard, follow dreams, and succeed. Minnesota will miss her.” — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, in a statement

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“Mary Tyler Moore changed the world for all women. I send my love to her family.” — Ellen DeGeneres, via Twitter

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“Thank you Mary Tyler Moore for paving the way for us ladies in comedy. You trailblazed the way for us to be confident & bold. All my love.” — Chelsea Handler, via Twitter

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“I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of Mary Tyler Moore. She was a gifted actress and wonderful comedian. I’m proud that we were in that groundbreaking sorority that brought single independent women to television. She will be deeply missed.” — Marlo Thomas, in a statement

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“Today we mourn the passing of one of the groundbreaking stars of Television, Mary Tyler Moore…” — Bette Midler, via Twitter

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“That shift in the Earth you just felt? That crater that is left behind? That is the legacy of the incomparable #marytylermoore RIP 2 an icon” — Josh Gad, via Twitter

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“RIP Mary Tyler Moore.

Love is all around you…” — Billy Crystal, via Twitter

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“I agree w/ Oprah #MaryTylerMoore influenced my career more than any other tv role model. She indeed turned on the world with her smile” — Andrea Mitchell, via Twitter

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“Oh Mary Tyler Moore. You were true inspiration, and power when I didn’t know what that was. Thank you. #RIPMaryTylerMoore” — Connie Britton, via Twitter

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“She could turn the whole world on with her smile…admired #MaryTylerMoore very much. Thinking of her family & loved ones(heart emoji)” — Robin Roberts, via Twitter

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“I throw my hat up in the air for you, Mary Tyler Moore. Loved her and her spirit. Rest in peace.” — Savannah Guthrie, via Twitter

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

BetteBack June 24, 1998: Bette Midler Won’t Make It To Small Screen Soon

Lowell Sun
June 24, 1998 Read More

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Friday, November 4, 2016

BetteBack June 12, 1997: Bette Midler heading to TV in ‘The Harlettes’

Cedar Rapids Gazette
June 12, 1997

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HOLLYWOOD — Bette Midler is turning her talent to weekly TV.

She and her All Girl Productions partner Bonnie Bruckheimer are executive-producing a sitcom titled “The Harlettes” — which, of course, is the name of Bette’s backup group. It will deal not only with the personal lives of the trio, but with their professional responsibilities and pressures working with a temperamental superstar. Guess who? You don’t have to guess.

We understand Midler will play The Star herself in the pilot edition of the show — and is expected to pop in for occasional appearances as the series unfolds. Casting is under way for the Castle Rock series.

This seems to be a time of transition for Midler. Her recent movie, “The Old Feeling,” bombed badly. She’s supposed to step into the shoes of the late Eva Gabor in a Fox TV movie version of the vintage sitcom “Green Acres.” And, oh yes, she’s been agent shopping.

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