Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sophie von Haselberg To Make New York Theatrical Debut In “Billy & Ray”

New York Times
Vineyard Theater Casts Its Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler
By ANDREW R. CHOW AUGUST 26, 2014 4:40 PM

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Vincent Kartheiser will shift from the 1960s to the 1940s when he portrays Billy Wilder in “Billy & Ray” at the Vineyard Theater this fall.

Acclaimed for playing the prickly Pete Campbell on AMC’s period drama “Mad Men,” Mr. Kartheiser will join Larry Pine (“Casa Valentina”) who will portray Raymond Chandler. Drew Gehling (“Jersey Boys”) and Sophie von Haselberg round out the cast.

Written by Mike Bencivenga and directed by Garry Marshall (“Pretty Woman”), “Billy & Ray” captures the antagonistic relationship between Wilder and Chandler during the creation of the 1944 film “Double Indemnity.” The two locked horns early and often while facing strict censorship laws that constrained a plot rife with murder and adultery. Despite the challenges, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, with Wilder and Chandler sharing a nomination for their screenplay.

Mr. Marshall directed the play’s premiere with a different cast last year at the Falcon Theater in Burbank, California.

Ms. von Haselberg, who is making her New York theatrical debut, has a unique connection to the Mr. Marshall — he directed her mother, Bette Midler, in the 1988 film “Beaches.” However, this link played no role in her casting, according to Douglas Aibel, the Vineyard’s artistic director: “She won that part on her own merits. She’s a phenomenal young talent.”

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

BetteBack July 25, 1986: Bette…The Art Lover

New Castle News
July 25, 1986

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Bette Midler has done a lot for her art: She’s shocked, scintillated and stupefied audiences with her titanic – and sometimes tacky – talents.

But o ff stage, Midler the artist turns into Midler the art lover.

” I don’t really like to talk about this because I ’m not very well educated,” she says, “but I like real trashy paintings – the stuff that everyone else sneers at. I like the old-timers – the Impressionists, Modernists and post-Modernists; people like Frida
Kahlo, Vasily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.

And I loved the pre-Raphaelites until I saw an exhibition at the Tate Gallery. Then it got silly,” adds the 41-yearold entertainer. “ All those paintings of Jesus on the cross, with Mary wiping His feet with her hair. Those were just too vile.”

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Monday, August 25, 2014

The 12 Greatest Female Gay Icons of All Time By Michael Musto

Out Magazine
The 12 Greatest Female Gay Icons of All Time
8.25.2014

BY MICHAEL MUSTO

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Who says gay men don’t love women? We worship them, as long as they’re famous, talented, and have some kind of aesthetic that reaches out to our inner diva. So let’s bring on the femme adoration and celebrate the idols most worth gay-genuflecting in front of through eternity. The 12 most fabulous gay icons of all time (female division) are…

Judy Garland

The woman who could tear your heart out with a melody and some moist eyes, Judy appeals to the outcast in us, as we long to go over the rainbow and find acceptance and a pot of gold. Her pain surrounding “The Man That Got Away” also speaks to us, along with her love of guys with lots of eyeliner—sometimes to the point of marrying them! Judy’s vulnerability made her a quivering gay icon, as did the fact that for years, she kept on going, able to belt out one more song despite the rigors of the business that always tried to squeeze more juice out of her brilliance. Her death shortly before Stonewall links her forever to modern gay history. [Runners-up: Bette Davis and Joan Crawford—especially together! And Tallulah’s always a trip and a half. Oh, and Marilyn was really pretty.]

Barbra Streisand
She’s a spunky, sassy superstar with a voice from the gods and a sense of humor so pungent it could only have come from an outcast who found herself center stage. Babs has long been the one we listen to, watch, admire, and imitate. There was that large road bump when she failed to get The Normal Heart produced, but maybe that worked out for the best since the lady doctor probably shouldn’t be the central character, lol. As she now tries to get a movie of Gypsy produced, the gays are getting weirdly excited again. [Special mention goes to the original Hello, Dolly! star, Carol Channing. Gays have always loved Carol’s saucer-eyed way of playing golddiggers and yentas. Before her parade passes by, no one should rain on it. Big kiss to Ethel Merman too—and to Liz Taylor, for her fabled career, staggering love life, and groundbreaking AIDS work.]

Bette Midler

“Bathhouse Bette” wowed toweled men at the Continental Baths and went on to a gigantic career as a star capable of both raunchy hilarity and heartbreaking pathos. She’s gone through periods of not being our favorite due to her varying moods and utterances, but overall, the breadth of the lady’s genius keeps her in the pantheon. You’ve got to have friends, and through the sheer force of her talent, Bette is still one of mine. [Another good Bette: Joan Rivers! When she asks, “Can we talk?” the gay answer is always “Can we listen?”]

Diana Ross

The smile, the saucer eyes, the vocal uplift…it all adds up to a diva gays love for the relentlessness of her sparkle. Add one great movie performance (Lady Sings The Blues), one fabulously campy one (Mahogany), and one legendary flop (The Wiz), and you’ve got a lady who’s definitely “the Boss”—and who still turns it out in concert after all these years. What’s more, she and the Supremes did a 1968 Funny Girl album which may be one of the most gay-friendly acts of cultural cross-pollination in history. No one rained on her Motown parade.

Beyoncé

Gays love a pop diva with full-throttle sexuality and great moves, and Beyoncé remains the queen, cementing that when she played Diana—sorry, Deena—in Dreamgirls. But I have to give a special shout out to Kylie Minogue, who’s more cerebral than sexual, and who is a long-running gay bar favorite, whether in videos or in the flesh.

Liza Minnelli

Judy’s daughter has a lot of the same pipes, vulnerability, and love of gays as mama, though she’s carved her own niche of “truly terrific, absolutely true” musical storytelling. Ring them bells for Liza. Gays cotton to her festive spirit (“Cabaret”), her undrenchable sense of hope (“Maybe This Time”), her big-town mania (“New York, New York”; “City Lights”), and her lashes.

Madonna

A straight man’s fantasy as the Material Girl, she was also a gay man’s dream, seeing as she appreciated her rainbow-inclusive fan base, indulged in “voguing,” and had some closerthanthis lesbian gal pals. The anti-Judy Garland, Madonna appeals to gays because she’s not vulnerable and can’t be tackled. She’s tough, self-possessed, and radioactively in the game at all times. I’m scared a huh.

Lady Gaga

More than a Madonna mini-me, Gaga has taken advantage of the social networking skills and overall frankness of her generation to not only sing about gay rights, but to speak about them and really make a difference in the process. Her concerts are like gay pep rallies anchored by Gaga serving as a motivational speaker for LGBTs in training. For such a Little Monster, the woman is really quite adorable.

Marlene Dietrich

A bisexual temptress who ignited the screen (often in man’s—or gorilla’s—garb), Marlene had refreshing political leanings to go with her iconoclastic glow and bowler hat. Falling in love with Marlene again…always wanted to.

Candy Darling

As an Andy Warhol superstar, Candy exuded the breathy sexuality and wit to sear her into the LGBT legend forever. Her work was relatively obscure yet monumental. As she explained it, “I’ve had small parts in big pictures and big parts in small pictures.” The wispy blonde died of cancer at 29 and hordes came to the funeral, among them Gloria Swanson, saluting the coffin with her gloved hand (says her chronicler, Jeremiah Newton.) A nod also goes to Edie Beale, the riveting eccentric who summed up revolutionary costuming for all time in the classic 1975 documentary Grey Gardens. She was staunch.

Cher

After the apocalypse, there will only be Cher and a “roach” someone handed her in the ‘70s. The headdressed diva, who’s had chart hits in every decade starting in Cleopatra’s time, is a real-life fantasy figure with all kinds of talents, plus a fascinating life you couldn’t make up. Her lesbian daughter is now her son, and her fans include so many LGBTs that, if you’re at a Cher concert and the people to either side of you are straight, then you’re definitely gay.

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BetteUcation: Mariah Carey

**~BetteUcation~**
Mariah Carey paid homage to Bette and the movie The Rose in her 2002 video Bringin’ OnThe Heartbreak. What do you think ~ Divine?!

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"Find your Light; They can't love you if they can't see you" ~ Bette Midler

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Miss Nefertiti Regrets circa 1966

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"Find your Light; They can't love you if they can't see you" ~ Bette Midler

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

BetteBack June 27, 1986: Roger Ebert Reviews Ruthless People

Roger Ebert
June 27, 1986

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It is so hard to play a lovable villain, and Danny DeVito does it so easily. His eyes narrow, his voice deepens, and he speaks with great earnestness and sincerity about his selfish schemes and vile designs.

Ruthless People” opens as DeVito is having lunch with his mistress, and we can see that this is a man filled with passion. In this case, the passion is hatred for his wife and for all that she stands for, and for all that her rich father stands for, and even for all that her poodle stands for.

DeVito is the mainspring of “Ruthless People,” the engine of murderous intensity right at the center. His passion is so palpable that it adds weight to all the other performances in the movie. If we can believe he really wants to kill his wife, then we can believe he would not pay the ransom if she were kidnapped, which is the movie’s comic premise.

It is, indeed, a pleasure to watch his face as he receives the first call from the kidnappers and they threaten to kill his wife if he doesn’t follow every single one of their instructions to the letter.

As he agrees to their stipulations, one after another, a wonderous calm spreads over his face, and the scene builds to a perfect climax.

The wife is played by Bette Midler, who makes her first entrance kicking and screaming inside a burlap bag. She has been kidnapped by Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater, who want to get even with DeVito, a clothing manufacturer who has ripped off their designs. It’s a juicy role for Midler, a first cousin to the airhead housewife she played in “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” and she milks it for all it’s worth, turning into an exercise freak while being held captive in a basement.

The movie doesn’t depend on just the one inspiration – the husband who doesn’t want to ransom his wife. It has lots of other ideas and characters that fit together like a clockwork mechanism. We have the mistress (Anita Morris) and her boyfriend (Bill Pullman), who is not playing with a full deck. And then there are the police chief (William G. Schilling), who backs himself into an embarrassing situation, and a mad slasher (J.E. Freeman), who picks the wrong victim when he comes after Midler.

The movie is slapstick with a deft character touch here and there. It’s hard to keep all the characters and plot lines alive at once, but “Ruthless People” does it, and at the end I felt grateful for its goofiness.

The discovery in the movie is DeVito. After seeing him on television’s “Taxi” and here and there in character roles, I first began to notice how good he was in “Romancing the Stone.” Then came his great performance in “Wise Guys,” opposite Joe Piscopo, and now this second virtuoso performance in a row.

He is, of course, very short, but there’s a funny thing about his stature: It seems to be a fact of his body, not his mind or personality. In closeups and whenever he speaks, he has so much force that he can easily command his scenes. He never seems to be compensating; he seems to be holding back. Like British actor Bob Hoskins, who also is shorter than most of the people in most of his scenes, he has a way of making the taller people around him seem unsure of what to do with their legs.

DeVito is a great joy to watch in this movie, as the turns of the plot catch him in one dilemma and then another. First he wants the kidnappers to kill his wife. Then, when he is charged with faking her kidnapping, he wants to ransom her. All along, there’s a running gag as he negotiates the ransom price, and Midler has a great moment when she learns that her husband is trying to buy her back – at a discount.

“Ruthless People” is made out of good performances, a script of diabolical ingenuity and a whole lot of silliness.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

BetteBack June 27, 1986: New York Times Reviews Ruthless People

New York Times
Ruthless People (1986)
FILM: ‘RUTHLESS PEOPLE,’ A COMEDY
By VINCENT CANBY
Published: June 27, 1986

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THE most irresistible thing about the characters in ”Ruthless People,” a conspicuously overconsuming, Beverly Hills update of O. Henry’s classic ”Ransom of Red Chief,” is that they all try with such earnestness to live up to their ruthless reputations.

However, they’re not only doggedly mean, deceitful and potentially murderous, they’re also inefficient, fainthearted and totally transparent. Yet they work without respite. If they devoted the same energies to the selling of cookies for the Girl Scouts of America, the G.S.A. could become the World Bank.

When first met, pint-sized Sam Stone (Danny DeVito), the Spandex miniskirt king, is having dinner in an elegant Los Angeles restaurant with Carol (Anita Morris), his tall, beautiful mistress, and planning the murder of his heiress-wife, Barbara (Bette Midler). Sam’s loathing of Barbara knows no bounds. He becomes positively poetic when he talks about her as ”that squeaky, corpulent broad. I even hate the way she licks stamps.”

Sam gets so excited about the murder he’s about to commit that he can’t wait to finish dinner. He rushes home with his bottle of chloroform (he’s going to drug her and toss the overweight body off a cliff), only to find that she’s been kidnapped. One of the delights of this mostly barren movie season is to see the pleasure that creeps over Sam Stone’s face as he listens to the kidnappers’ telephoned instructions.

They demand half a million dollars in ransom and promise that Barbara will be tortured and murdered if the money isn’t paid, as directed, and if the police are called in. Hoping for the worst, Sam immediately brings in the cops and every television reporter in Southern California.

The object of all this attention is as horrible as Sam describes her. Miss Midler’s Barbara Stone enters ”Ruthless People” kicking, clawing and cursing, hidden inside the gunnysack in which she’s been carried off by her kidnappers to their modest, spic-and-span, lower-middle-class hideaway.

The perpetrators are Ken and Sandy Kessler (Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater), a young, mousy, nonviolent couple who’ve been driven to this extreme action as a means of getting revenage on Sam, who stole Sandy’s Spandex miniskirt idea and became a multimillionaire.

I don’t want to oversell ”Ruthless People,” which opens today at the Beekman and other theaters. It’s the kind of movie that sounds a lot funnier than it sometimes plays. It has its arid patches.

It also has a uniformly splendid cast of comic actors – the best to be seen outside of any recent Blake Edwards movie. Its screenplay, by the newcomer Dale Launer, is packed with wonderfully vulgar, tasteless lines that perfectly reflect the sensibilities of Sam and Barbara Stone. (Says Sam at one point, when he should be grieving for his lost wife, ”Let’s face it – she’s not Mother Teresa. Gandhi would have strangled her.”) The direction, which can most accurately be defined as enthusiastic, is by the team of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, who hit the target with ”Airplane!,” which they also wrote, and then missed with their follow-up, ”Top Secret.” Though ”Ruthless People” has few moments to equal the inspired lunacies of ”Airplane!” it’s a true farce -uniformly, cheerily nasty, without any of the sentimental baggage that freights ”Down and Out in Beverly Hills.”

I can’t say enough good things about Mr. DeVito, who here is never allowed to ”act cute,” which has sabotaged his work in ”Romancing the Stone” and ”Jewel of the Nile,” or about Miss Midler, who starts off looking like a nightmare parody of Pia Zadora and winds up being a svelte if loud-mouthed kitten. ”Do I understand this correctly?” she says on learning that her husband won’t even pay $10,000 for her return. ”I’ve been marked down? I’ve been kidnapped by K-Mart!”

Mr. Reinhold and Miss Slater (”Supergirl”) are almost as funny as the unlikely kidnappers who do their best to cater to the whims of their whimsical ”guest.” Also entering into the spirit of the film are Miss Morris and Bill Pullman, who plays ”the stupidest person on the face of the earth,” the handsome if eccentric-looking young man with whom Miss Morris is two-timing Sam Stone. William J. Schilling appears briefly, but memorably, as a distraught commissioner of the Los Angeles police.

Though unbilled, O. Henry lives on -in a time and a place and a vocabulary that would make him blush.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

BetteBack June 1986: Bette Is Superb In Ruthless People

Radio Times
Ruthless People
June 1986

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Airplane! partners Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and David Zucker teamed up again for this fun comedy about a pair of bumbling kidnappers – Helen Slater and Judge Reinhold – who snatch wealthy Bette Midler and discover that her husband Danny DeVito doesn’t want her back. The movie twists and turns as a whole host of other people get involved (including Anita Morris as DeVito’s mistress and a young Bill Pullman as her mentally challenged lover). DeVito and Midler are superb in their roles as the greedy philanderer and his screaming, overbearing other half.

PLOT SUMMARY

Black comedy from the Airplane! team, starring Danny DeVito and Bette Midler. Wealthy businessman Sam Stone plans to murder his wife so he can marry his mistress. He thinks his problems are over when his wife is kidnapped by a young couple who threaten to kill her if their ransom demands are not met. But Sam’s life is about to get even more complicated.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Video: Tell Him by Don Bradshaw (For BetteHeads)

Bette recorded this song for her new album. Whether it makes the cut or not I don’t know. Anyway I just learnt the song this morning so I thought I’d share with you. No haters, Just players…lol

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"Find your Light; They can't love you if they can't see you" ~ Bette Midler

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BetteBack June 27, 1986: Bette Midler Is Priceless In Ruthless People

Philadelphia Inquirer
Film: Raunchy Fun In A Farce On Greed
By Desmond Ryan, Inquirer Movie Critic
POSTED: June 27, 1986

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The heiress has just learned from her kidnappers that her husband refuses to pay the ransom, even though they keep desperately reducing the figure. As the truth dawns upon her, Bette Midler takes on an expression that can only be described as sleazy hauteur, and bellows, “Marked down!”

Barbara Stone (Midler), the victim of this K mart kidnapping, is loud and obnoxious. And so is just about everyone else in Ruthless People, a movie that believes all human impulses originate below the belt and one that has a merry time proving it. When a comedy is as foul-mouthed and raunchy as Ruthless People, it helps if it’s also funny. And for most of its frenzied going, Ruthless People is a diverting and very shrewdly cast farce about bottomless greed.

Although it shares some thematic ground with John Huston‘s savage Prizzi’s Honor, Ruthless People does not aspire to the same level of sophistication and subtlety. Everything here is more superficial and aimed at the immediate laugh rather than laughter that surfaces from revelation of character. To that end, the directing triumvirate of Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams and David Zucker – the team behind Airplane!. (1980) – has chosen stars who can get that laugh by their response to a predicament or a sudden change of fortune.

Midler, most recently cast as another rich harpy in Down and Out in Beverly

Hills, has shown that she was born to this kind of role, and she seems to play it instinctively. But as the husband who is delighted to have her taken off his hands because he was planning to kill her anyway, Danny DeVito does his best work yet for the big screen. Perhaps it takes three directors to rein him in, but DeVito is restrained here and it makes a big difference. Too often in the past he has flailed away before the camera like a man under attack by a swarm of invisible bees.

To this welcome control, DeVito has added a really mean streak to his Sam Stone. Mix in the ever-understated acting of Judge Reinhold and character actors who take gleefully to juicy cameos and you have the makings of an undemanding but well-executed entertainment.

There are scorpions who have better relationships than Sam and Barbara Stone. Sam is a clothing tycoon living in a Bel-Air mansion filled with furnishings that are as vulgar as they are uncomfortable. At the outset, he is about to murder Barbara for her money so that he can enjoy his mistress in peace.

Although Ruthless People is strictly an amorality play, the only people with a shred of decency left in them are the kidnappers. Their lives are taken over by Barbara and her unceasing demands and the realization that they are stuck with her.

Readers of Elmore Leonard’s novel Switch will recognize the ingredients, and Dale Launer, a new screenwriter, has resorted to over-plotting in his approach to them. He presumably intends to keep up the tempo to a degree that moves to the next situation and reaction just as the previous one has sunk in. But the pace may have more to do with the three directors, who brought this machine-gun style to Airplane!

In fact, the funniest moments in Ruthless People come from the points where the stars find some room – usually little more than a crevice – to act rather than react. That’s nearly always the case in good comedy. But Ruthless People deals in the easier kind of humor that makes audiences laugh more instead of think harder. On those terms, it’s a winner. Midler may be marked down faster than a sun dress at the end of the summer, but her contribution to Ruthless People is priceless.

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