Speaking of the Divine Miss Midler, she will soon open on Broadway playing the late super-agent, recluse and scathing wit, Sue Mengers. The show is called “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers.”
In Vanity Fair, Bette admits to a bit of nervousness, because “I’ve never played a real-life person before.” Well, there was the above mentioned “The Rose,” but that was fictionalized. However, a number of years back, Bette, Nathan Lane and Stockard Channing made a rather odd movie titled “Isn’t She Great.” This purported to tell the story of novelist Jackie Susann. (“Valley of the Dolls” “Once Is Not Enough,” etc) It was written by the talented Paul Rudnick. Everybody gave their all — maybe they gave too much! But the film didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be. Still, nothing with a cast like this is a waste of time.
The real problem for Bette, as Vanity Fair points out, is that she spends the entire 90 minutes of “I’ll Eat You Last” reclining, just as Sue did in most of her later years. If you’ve ever seen Bette Mildler perform, onstage or onscreen, you know she is a tiny bundle of kinetic energy. Even standing still, she seems to vibrate. This will be a challenge. But for an actress of Bette’s versatility and determination, I’m betting she’ll turn that couch into a vibrating water bed, and Sue Mengers into one of her great characterizations.