Bette Midler Part Three
I’m doing Bette Midler Part Three, and I hope you like it, because I know that I already like it.
2000— 2005: Bette sitcom, tribute albums, and Kiss My Brass tour
Midler starred in her own sitcom in 2000, Bette, which featured Midler playing herself, a divine celebrity who is adored by her fans. Airing on CBS, initial ratings were high, marking the best sitcom debut for the network in more than five years, but viewers percentage soon declined, resulting in the show‘s cancellation in early 2001. Midler openly griped about the show‘s demanding shooting schedule, while the show itself was also reportedly rocked by backstage turmoil, involving the replacement of co-star Kevin Dunn whose departure was attributed to his behind-the scenes bickering with Midler by the media. However, Midler, critically praised, was awarded a People‘s Choice Award for her performance in the show and received a Golden Globe Award nomination the following year. Also in 2000, Midler made an uncredited cameo appearance in Nancy Meyers‘ fantasy rom— com What Women Want, starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. In the film, she portrayed a therapist who realizes that central character Nick, played by Gibson, is able to understand women‘s thoughts. Released to generally mixed reviews, it became the then-most successful film ever directed by a women, taking in $183 million in the United States, and grossing upward of $370 million worldwide.
The same year Midler starred in Isn’t She Great and Drowning Mona. In Andrew Bergman‘s Isn’t She Great, a highly fictionalized account of the life and career of author Jacqueline Susann, she played alongside Nathan Lane and Stockard Channing, portraying Susann with her early struggles as an aspiring actress relentlessly hungry for fame, her relationship with press agent Irving Mansfield, her success as the author of Valley of the Dolls, and her battle with and subsequent death from breast cancer. The dramedy garnered largely negative reviews by critics, who dismissed it as “bland material that produces entirely forgettable comic performances.“ For her performance in the film, Midler received her second Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actress at the 21st ceremony. In Nick Gomez‘s dark comedy Drowning Mona, Midler appeared along with Danny DeVito and Jamie Lee Curtis, playing title character Mona Dearly, a spiteful, loud-mouthed, cruel and highly unpopular woman, whose mysterious death is investigated. Another critical fiasco, reviewers noted that the film “drowns itself in humor that never rises above sitcom level.“
After nearly three decades of erratic record sales, Midler was dropped from the Warner Music Group in 2001. Following a reported long-standing feud with Barry Manilow, the two joined forces after many years in 2003 to record Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook. Now signed to Columbia Records, the album was an instant success, being certified gold by RIAA. One of the Clooney Songbook selections, “This Ole House“, became Midler‘s first Christian radio single shipped by Rick Hendrix and his positive music movement. The album was nominated for a Grammy the following year.
Throughout 2003 and 2004, Midler toured the United States in her new show, Kiss My Brass, to sell-out audiences. Also in 2004, she appeared in a supporting role in Frank Oz‘ science fiction satire The Stepford Wives, a remake of the 1975 film of the same name also based on the Ira Levin novel. Also starring Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Christopher Walken and Glenn Close, Midler played Bobbie Markowitz, a writer and recovering alcoholic. The project underwent numerous production problems that occurred throughout its shooting schedule, with reports of problems on-set between director Oz and the actors being rampant in the press. Oz later blamed Midler— who was amid recording her next album and rehearsing for her tour— for being under a lot of stress by other projects and making “the mistake of bringing her stress on the set.“ While the original book and film had tremendous cultural impact, the remake was marked by poor reviews by many critics, and a financial loss of approximately $40 million at the box office.
Midler joined forces again with Manilow for another tribute album, Bette Midler Sings the Peggy Lee Songbook. Released in October 2005, the album sold 55,000copies the first week of release, returned Midler to the top ten of US Billboard200, and was nominated for a Grammy Award.
2006— 2011: Cool Yule, The Showgirl Must Go On, Jackpot: The Best Bette, and Memories of You
Midler released a new Christmas album titled Cool Yule in 2006, which featured a duet of Christmastime pop standards “Winter Wonderland“/“Let It Snow“ with Johnny Mathis. Well-received, the album garnered a Grammy Award nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album in 2007. The same year, Midler returned to the big screen, appearing in Then She Found Me, Helen Hunt‘s feature film directorial debut. Also starring Hunt along with Matthew Broderick and Colin Firth, the comedy-drama film tells the story of a 39-year-old Brooklyn elementary schoolteacher, who after years is contacted by the flamboyant host of a local talk show, played by Midler, who introduces herself as her biological mother. Critical response to the film was mixed; where as some critics praised the film for having strong performances, others felt the film was bogged down by a weak script and technical issues.