Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Catching Up: Bette Midler Attends the 3rd Annual Sean Penn & Friends HELP HAITI HOME Gala

Yahoo News
By SANDY COHEN
January 12, 2014 5:38 AM

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — While many stars are awash in the gifts and parties of Golden Globes weekend, a few used their privilege to benefit the people of Haiti — and they were rewarded with an intimate performance by U2.

Bette Midler, Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, Piers Morgan, Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman, Idris Elba and Kathryn Bigelow were among the guests Saturday at Sean Penn‘s third annual Help Haiti Home benefit, which raised nearly $6 million for the J/P Haitian Relief Organization. The dinner party at the Montage Hotel included a surprise performance by U2— the band’s first in four years.

The J/P Haitian Relief Organization has been working since the 2010 earthquake to provide emergency care and sustainable shelter and education to the people of Haiti. But Penn says he hopes his organization is obsolete within 10 years.

He said progress in the Caribbean nation has been miraculous despite corruption and “inaccurate, bad Journalism.”

“I’m not satisfied. I want more,” he said. “But this couldn’t have happened in the United States: This amount of clean up, this amount of resilience.”

He expects all of the people displaced by the earthquake to find permanent housing within the next two years. Nearly two million have already moved out of the emergency camps and into homes.

Besides lending his time and his fame to the cause, Penn also gave his vintage El Camino to benefit his organization. It sold for $100,000 at auction Saturday.

The earth is such a tiny speck in the universe that the only thing that makes sense is to take care of those on the planet with us, he said. He promised to reward those who participated in the auction.

Midler, Paltrow and Kevin Bacon cast bids. Paltrow’s husband, Coldplay front man Chris Martin, won an exclusive art piece from Banksy for $650,000. Anderson Cooper, the evening’s host, gave the biggest donation: His auction bid of $1.4 million won a sculpture to be made from Penn’s 65 discarded firearms.

U2′s three-song performance — stunning in a hotel ballroom — followed a tender, acoustic performance earlier in the evening with Bono, guitarist The Edge and Haitian singer Anaelle Jean-Pierre.

Emma Thompson noted the contrast between the Help Haiti event and other pre-awards-show parties.

“I’m here for awards season,” she said, “and this is the first night I’ve been having a good time.”

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Queerty: Bette Midler As Mae West: Five Reasons To Be Excited

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Has there ever been a broad  brassier  than Bette Midler? It’s debatable, but Mae West definitely comes close.  We’ll soon get a chance to compare the two tough-talking dames when the self-proclaimed Divine Miss M. plays the legendary screen siren in an upcoming film.

maepaulYounger Queerty readers with only a passing knowledge of  Midler’s extraordinary career are unlikely to be familiar with the wild West so here’s a short primer:

Noted for bawdy zingers such as “So many men, so little time!” and (my personal fave) ”I’ve been in more laps than a napkin” (slip that bon mot into your next holiday party conversation!), she basically put the “bomb” in bombshell. After achieving success on Broadway in the roaring 1920s with her racy self-penned sex opuses, West headed to Hollywood to make a string of hit comedy films. She launched Cary Grant’s career and saved Paramount studios from bankruptcy. When her film career waned, she returned to the stage, always surrounded by a bevy of beefy bodybuilders and/or gay men, even singing on the Oscars with Rock Hudson. She returned to movies in the 1970s still cluelessly pushing the same sexy act on audiences with two lurid camp classics, Myra Breckinridge and Sextette, before her death in 1980. West’s penchant for shocking audiences undoubtedly paved the road to superstardom for other blonde provocateurs like Madonna and Gaga.

Potentially good stuff, right? However, it’s always a very slippery slope when one iconic entertainer portrays another. For every Barbra Streisand who won a best actress Oscar for her interpretation of vaudevillian Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, there’s a Lindsay Lohan who sunk to a depressing career low when she tried to impersonate Ole Violet Eyes Elizabeth Taylor in Liz & Dick. Below are a few reasons to look forward to this movie.

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The film has a tony pedigree.

William Friedkin, an Oscar-winning director responsible for The Boys in the Band, among other classics, knows how to shoot a bitchy one-liner. He’ll helm the pic from a screenplay written by Harvey Fierstein (above), the outspoken genius responsible for dragtastic triumphs such as Torch Song Trilogy, La Cage aux Folles and Kinky Boots. His source material is West’s candid 1959 memoir Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It. The movie will air on HBO, undoubtedly still giddy from the success of its sensational Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra.

Sextette

It could be a future camp classic.

The biopic will reportedly concentrate on West’s early years. The blond bombshell was 34 when she was thrown into the slammer on indecency charges over her risque stage show Sex and not quite 40 when she became a film star. Midler is currently 68 years old. In a way, this is fitting as the indomitable West refused to let old age deter her sex drive. Watch a clip fromSextette in which an 85-year-old West seduces future 007 Timothy Dalton while “singing” a Captain and Tennille hit here.

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She inspired and stole from drag queens.

Charles Pierce (above), one of the last century’s most prominent female impersonators (and bestie to Golden Girls star Bea Arthur!), thrilled audiences with his dead-on embodiment of West delivering his signature take on zingers such as “If you’re gonna come up and see me sometime remember safe sex isn’t an affair with a locksmith.” it’s absolutely fitting that she was a drag staple since a persistent rumor claimed that West borrowed her best and naughtiest one-liners from an early 20th century drag performer named Bert Savoy.

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Maybe there will be a big reveal.

This could turn into HBO’s version of The Crying Game. Another sex symbol, Raquel Welch, is convinced that West was a man in drag. The two icons clashed when Welch starred opposite West in 1970 as, ironically, the MTF title character in the disastrous adaptation of Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckinridge.
It has to be better than this.

Midler won’t be the first actress to play West. Ann Jillian starred in a TV bio in 1982 opposite future Streisand hubby James Brolin. And, holy shit, what do you know? There’s also Faye Dunaway, who portrayed the legend in a no-budget 2002 drama about evangelist Leroy Jenkins called The Calling, though sometimes known as Man of Faith. While La Dunaway still blames her ferocious turn as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest for the downward spiral her career took in the ’80s, she’s probably grateful that few (if any) fans have seen this bomb in which the Oscar-winner vamps and shifts her hips like there’s no tomorrow.

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Video: I Shall Be Released – Bette Midler – Divine Madness

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

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Bootleg Betty: The Best Bette

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bette Midler To Play Mae West In HBO Films Biopic From William Friedkin

Deadline
Bette Midler To Play Mae West In HBO Films Biopic From William Friedkin
By NELLIE ANDREEVA | Monday December 9, 2013 @ 3:21pm PST

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EXCLUSIVE: The Divine Miss M. is taking on the great Mae West. HBO Films has put in development Mae West, a movie about the true Hollywood original, with Bette Midler attached to star and executive produce. The project is the brainchild of William Friedkin (The Exorcist), who will direct and executive produce. Broadway heavyweight Harvey Fierstein, who recently penned the book for Tony-winning musical Kinky Boots, is writing the script. Also executive producing is Jerry Weintraub, who executive produced HBO Films’ Emmy-winning Behind The Candelabra.

Mae West, based on West’s autobiography Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It, chronicles West’s rise to stardom when she takes New York by storm after writing and starring in her scandalous Broadway show Sex and battles authorities over obscenity charges. Instead of taking the road of a wide-eyed Hollywood ingenue, West forged her own path, writing and starring in her own risqué plays, including her breakthrough Sex, which had her prosecuted and sentenced to 10 days in prison for “corrupting the morals of youth.”

The notoriety fueled her career and didn’t stop her from tackling taboo subjects in her next plays, including 1928 hit Diamond Lil, about a racy 1890s woman, which opened the doors to Hollywood for her.

West was a late arrival, signing her first movie deal with Paramount at 39, but went on to make a string of hits, becoming one of the highest-grossing stars of the 1930s while still finding ways to push the envelope and keeping studio censors busy.

Midler’s career path resembles that of West — she too made a name for herself onstage in New York (she made her Broadway debut in the chorus of Fiddler On The Roof) before segueing to features in her 30s for a successful movie career, which has earned her two Oscar nominations.

Midler just started a three-week engagement at the Geffen Playhouse of I’ll Eat You Last after a successful Broadway run. Midler has been earning strong reviews for her portrayal of larger-than-life Hollywood agent Sue Mengers in the one-person play written by John Logan and directed by Joe Mantello.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Miss M Miffed At SiriusXM’s Radio Change Format

Examiner
Bette Midler denounces arbitrary SiriusXM ’40s on 4′ station programming change;
4-9-2014

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Outspoken outrage and internet backlash continues towards SiriusXM Radio for executives’ decision to preempt their signature “40s on 4” channel for exclusive Billy Joel airplay. On April 9, 2014, Bette Midler posted, on both her Twitter account and her Facebook page, her displeasure at the arbitrary decision. Already 4,505 of her more than 290,000 of her Facebook page followers have clicked “Like” to affirm their support of Bette’s words.

All the kerfluffle began on March 26, 2014, when SiriusXM informed their subscribers by e-mail, the day before it happened, that for 90 days “their” channel 4 (in cars) would carry the “Best of Billy Joel” for three months. Not only was the message objectionable, but what was worse was the seemingly cavalier manner in which the announcement, or dictate, came down. It was a done deal, a fait accompli, and no arguments allowed.

Very quickly after finding Glenn Miller gone and the Piano Man around, and around, faithful “40s on 4” listeners began trying to reach SiriusXM executives. The 40s fans shared their concerns, disdain and vehement objections. They e-mailed, called, and posted on Facebook. Big band and swing fans maintained it was unfair to be subjected to obliteration of a subscription service channel that required over $100 per year just to enjoy one music genre of many available.

Faithful SiriusXM subscribers came together on social media to protest their concerns. Their Facebook page—“Bring Back ‘40s on 4”—has close to 650 “Likes” in about 10 days online. It’s not about disliking Billy Joel; many of the station listeners also enjoy listening to his music, but on the “70s on 7,” “80s on 8” or “The Bridge,” any place but their “40s on 4” station.

That may not sound like many members, but it is, and momentum is picking up quickly. Many subscribers are only posting their discontent on the SiriusXM Facebook page, still to no avail. A petition is making the rounds online as well, asking Sirius to give back the station to their listeners. Not a word, not a sound, not a syllable from SiriusXM.

Sadly, SiriusXM remains radio silent, preferring autoresponses or no responses at all. But that kind of corporate “duck and cover” mentality has snowballed into proportions they didn’t count on. Now singer, entertainer and author Bette Midler has taken up the cause.

The Divine Miss M has spoken, via postings on her Twitter and Facebook on April 9, 2014. In a personal tweet to SiriusXM, Midler wrote:

@SIRIUSXM dumps the music of the 40′s and I am beside myself! Don’t penalize the decade that set stage for everything that followed!

Midler, whose entertaining memoir, “A View from a Broad,” was just released last week is ever popular in the public eye. She’s brilliant, bawdy, and with over 570,000 followers on Twitter, a big fan of Sirius “40s on 4.” Midler’s music catalogue is played on that station as well as many other of their stations, given her vocal versatility. If you want to hear her sing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” though, that would be on the—oh wait it’s not available for 75 more days—“40s on 4” on SiriusXM.

Midler is capable of motivating even more people on social media than SiriusXM might be prepared to deal with in the days ahead. Bette is followed on Twitter by Robin Williams, TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, just to name a few of those who want to know what she has to say.

Many angry listeners are cancelling their subscriptions left and right. It might be time for SiriusXM to revisit their grand idea. “The Divine Miss M” has spoken and she’s not happy.

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

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Photo: Hot Dogging It!

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

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Photo: Bette And Stevie Nicks Oscar Night

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

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Midler, Streisand, Chenoweth director Richard Jay-Alexander to receive LGBT Unity Coalition award

Miami Herald
Streisand, Chenoweth director Richard Jay-Alexander to receive LGBT Unity Coalition award
BY STEVE ROTHAUS
srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

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Richard Jay-Alexander is equally at home in Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall directing Barbra Streisand and Kristin Chenoweth, or in a South Beach gay bar listening to off-key karaoke.

“I support the arts. I go to things. Not just the big touring shows. I go to the little companies. I’ll go into the Design District. I’ll go see stuff at the little theater at the Arsht. I’m interested,” says Jay-Alexander, a full-time Miami Beach resident. “I am a busman’s holiday. So when people say, ‘What do you do to relax?’ It’s not like I have a coin collection or I go fishing. I’m reading a script or listening to a new musical. Or catching up on a singer. I love pop culture.”

Jay-Alexander has been part of the local scene for more than 20 years. His first friend here: Charles Cinnamon, dean of South Florida show-biz publicists. “To me, the most important person in my life in South Florida and the longest in terms of my heart and career choice is Charlie Cinnamon.”

On Wednesday, Cinnamon will accompany Jay-Alexander as he accepts a Legends Honor arts award from Unity Coalition, South Florida’s Hispanic LGBT rights group, at its annual Leaders, Legends & Lovelies Ball. Other 2014 honorees are Sebrina Maria Alfonso, founder and conductor of the South Florida Symphony Orchestra; producer and artistic director David Chacón Perez; and Pedro Pablo Peña, founder and artistic director of the International Ballet Festival of Miami.

Growing up as “Dickie Fernandez” in Syracuse, N.Y., Jay-Alexander says Unity Coalition’s mission “speaks to me and I need to bang the drum a little bit.”

“I am Latino,” he says. “I’m Richard Jay-Alexander but I was born Richard A. Fernandez. Richard Alexander Fernandez.” He changed his name to join Actor’s Equity – the unions already represented actors named Richard Fernandez and Richard Alexander. He’s known as Richard Jay-.

Jay-Alexander says he grew up gay and bullied. “I was beat up. I still have a chip in my tooth that I kept on purpose to remind me of where I came from.”

After earning a theater degree in 1974 from State University of New York at Oswego, Jay-Alexander moved to New York City and got small acting jobs in the plays Zoot Suit and Amadeus. He soon became a dance captain and stage manager in producer Cameron Mackintosh’s organization.

His big break came in 1987, as executive producer and associate director of Mackintosh’s huge musical hit, Les Misérables.

In 1996, Jay-Alexander cast former Menudo singer Ricky Martin as Marius. “Everybody thought I was nuts to bring him to Broadway. They thought I was insane because nobody heard of him,” he says. “I saw him at Radio City Music Hall and got on my hands and knees and said, ‘Please come do this show.’”

Jay-Alexander says he and nightlife promoter Debbie Ohanian helped connect Martin with Miami composer Desmond Child, who in 1999 wrote the Latin singer’s first big English-language hit, Livin’ La Vida Loca.

After a falling out with Mackintosh, Jay-Alexander reinvented himself as a concert and recording director, working with musical stars including Bernadette Peters, Polly Bergen and Johnny Mathis.

In 2000, Streisand hired Jay-Alexander to take over direction of her “Timeless” tour. Their relationship blossomed and since then he has co-directed (with Streisand) all of her world tours.

“That girl has captured my heart,” he says of Streisand. “As I always say to people, I like her so much I forget how talented she is. Then she opens that mouth when we are working. It’s just a pretty spectacular experience.”

This week, he directed Streisand’s younger half-sister, Roslyn Kind, for her sold-out opening at New York City nightclub 54 Below. He has also worked with Bette Midler, Donna McKechnie and Chenoweth, who appears April 14 on Bravo TV’s Watch What Happens Live, with Andy Cohen, Real Housewife Vicki Gunvalson – and Jay-Alexander as “guest bartender.”

On May 3, Chenoweth performs at Carnegie Hall in a Jay-Alexander-directed concert, “The Evolution of a Soprano.”

“He has given me confidence, and has complete and utter belief in my talent,” Chenoweth tells the Miami Herald. “I have complete and utter confidence in him and his gifts.” (Scroll below for the complete quote.)

Jay-Alexander is confident and no-nonsense, particularly when it comes to his reputation.

“I’m passionate. It’s genuine. It gets me in trouble a lot, actually. Sometimes people can’t take it. I’m a tornado. You get a lot with me,” he says. “It’s a lot for people to handle and sometimes it’s like ‘We love you, but don’t get too close. We want you, but do it our way.’ I’ve learned to detect this now so I don’t get in trouble when I get hired. It’s hard. If you hire me, you have to be absolutely sure about what you want.”

Jay-Alexander is also not shy.

“The one huge thing that I teach people now is that in the morning, you open the door, wave to your neighbors and you plié for the paper. No more bending over at 60. I plié for the Miami Herald, I plié for The New York Times, I plié for The Hollywood Reporter, I plié for Variety and I close my door and I’m in my own world for the first two hours of the day.”

IF YOU GO
The Leaders, Legends & Lovelies Ball is 7 to 11 p.m. Wednesday at the Fillmore Miami Beach. Tickets $100. Click here to buy tickets.

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Poll: Did You Buy The New Edition Of Bette’s “A View From A Broad” Book?

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

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