Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bette Midler Fans Unite! Ack!

Eek! The Bette peeps are pipin' mad over this week's Las Vegas Weekly "Strip Sense" column assessing Bette Midler's disappointing level of community involvement and less-than-Cher-y level of sales. And AEG tells me Bette sold the most tickets for the Colosseum last year which is kind of cheating since she also had the most shows. Oh well. I stand by my point of view. -sf

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.”

Or not.

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.


Mister D said...

Working in the community and bringing money into the community is being a part of the community. Case closed. Quit WHINING!

Anonymous said...

G-d how I hate the song "Wind beneath my wings."




By that measure no corporation or business would ever be expected to do anything more than employ a few folks, take its profits and go. The way you put it, we should all simply be grateful whenever any enterprise sets up any business anywhere. Bette didn't take the Vegas gig out of the goodness of her heart; she did it to make a huge pile of money. That's all well and good, but you're a sycophant if you believe that we should simply be grateful she graced us with her presence. By your standard, Humanitarians of the Year ought to go to whatever major corporation employs the most people. That's enough for you!

atdnext said...

Oh gawd, I just took a look at the comments at your Weekly piece. Those "Bette-heads" are NASTY!

I'm actually not some Bette Midler hater, as I like some of her songs and have repeatedly watched "Beaches" with my mom, but I don't think it's inaccurate or inappropriate to note that she had some difficulty adjusting to Las Vegas living... And had difficulty selling tickets to her show at times.

So what's the big deal? It's OK, not every celeb can handle a Vegas show.

Rice said...

Wow, that's a lot of snotty...

I like the one that starts out,
"With all due respect, unless you have spent a lot of time around large mature artist centered productions, you cannot possibly imagine the extreme physical and mental effort and focus required to execute it 5 (not 4) times a week..."

What a jackass!

You can feel the poster patting you on the head af they tell you how stupid you are.

I thank you for writing the article. She didn't do what she said she would do.

End of story.

Mike Weatherford said...

I wonder if her "early" departure doesn't in fact reinforce my "splitting 10s" theory: Of the two like-minded acts, Cher is the stronger draw so Midler suffered. Would it have been the same with a younger diva (Carrie Underwood?) or a male sixtysomething boomer (Billy Joel)? Guess we won't know without a control group.

atdnext said...

Mr. Weatherford-

I think that would be a great idea. While there are differences between hard-core Cher fans and hard-core Bette fans, both were mostly drawing from the same pool of older gay Vegas tourists. Maybe Caesars should consider someone like Kylie Minogue to bring in the younger gays who may not remember "Bugle Boy from Company B" but still can't get enough "Can't Get You Out of My Head".


Mike, etc: What Bette and Cher show is that there is more than one taste among gays, as with any demo. Bette's sales problem had nothing to do with Cher. They don't have the same fans. Cher draws a much, MUCH younger gay audience. And either way, there aren't enough gay travelers to make the difference here. Bette simply overestimated her fandom. It wasn't as large or as motivated (the three people leaving a gazillion comments at LVW's site notwithstanding).

I don't mean to be harsh, but it's insulting to gays to draw the conclusion that there is one sort of concert-going audience within a community as diverse as ours (or any demographic.). If Elton and Cher were at the Colosseum concurrently, for instance, there would be no question both would sell out without drawing one from the other. Why? Because both are more popular to concert-goers than, evidently, Bette. Period. Her weakness was her own.

That said, Billy Joel would be awesome. But, incidentally, in that splitting-a-pair-of-10s column, Mike, you recommended...Toby Keith. Sorry, pal, but Toby is no Celine. Or Elton. Or Cher. Or, dare I say it, Bette.