Bette Midler leaving after seemingly unhappy residency
“Oh, yeah, I’m going to love being in Vegas. I’m really looking forward to being a part of the community here.”
That was Bette Midler in late 2007, speaking for my podcast in advance of her arrival for The Showgirl Must Go On. She was the first female heir to the throne voluntarily abdicated by Celine Dion at Caesars Palace’s Colosseum.
As you might have heard, the Divine Miss M takes her leave from that gargantuan stage—she remarked semi-jokingly about its size during every performance—on January 31, checking out precisely when her contract is fulfilled and not a day or performance longer. In doing so, she is the first Colosseum resident to have failed to sell out all or most of her shows or to want to extend her stay.
The Caesars and AEG Live folks will stick to happy, upbeat comments, but they must regard Midler’s time at the Colosseum as a disappointment when measured against Dion or even the other two part-time denizens, Elton John and Cher. Ticket prices were lowered and special deals were easy to find just a few months after Midler’s 2008 debut and before the economy completely immolated. One ticket broker (aka “scalper”) told me that near the end he largely stopped stocking Midler seats except for weekend shows.
This all would have surprised me back in 2007 when Midler was en route. The reason I asked her about her likely community involvement was because it was one of the knocks against Celine Dion when she first announced she was coming. I co-wrote a Newsweek piece at the time headlined “She’s Just Not Vegas” that quoted fellow performers doubting Dion would want to be a part of the Vegas entertainment community or citizenry. And while Dion did keep at arm’s length with an insular offstage lifestyle at Lake Las Vegas, she did live and pay taxes here, she did do a litany of charitable things, and her husband in particular was routinely spotted about town. Neither John nor Cher ever did, but they didn’t say they would, either.
Midler, surprisingly given her active social life and philanthropic efforts in New York, made no such efforts. I recall her popping in at the gay nightclub Krave once to stump for Barack Obama in the fall of 2008, but otherwise I can’t think of anything she showed up for or anyone who spotted her doing more than going out to dinner in those two years.In fact, she committed several flubs.
Read the rest at LasVegasWeekly.Com.