| NEW YORK
NEW YORK They just don't make entertainers like
they used to and, at 62, Bette Midler should know.
Midler is experiencing what she calls a "boomlet," or a
career mini-boom. She has replaced Celine Dion in a two-year
singing engagement in Las Vegas and is co-starring with Helen
Hunt in "Then She Found Me," her first film in three years
which was released on Friday.
The all-around entertainer told Reuters that juggling
acting with singing, cracking jokes and strutting on her tiny
high-heeled shoes across one the world's largest stages on the
Vegas Strip are skills from another era.
"You could say I am the people's diva, I am like the last
one left," she said in a recent interview. "I just think you
have to do everything.
"I am like the last of another breed."
The American singer, actress, comedian and one time go-go
dancer, who launched her career in a Broadway production of
"Fiddler on the Roof" and once played a Manhattan gay bathhouse
with Barry Manilow, lamented the loss of "full service
entertainers." She joked she should set up a "diva boot camp."
She said some modern performers were so stiff and
interacted so little that audiences might be forgiven for
thinking "they are looking at a gigantic television set."
In "Then She Found Me," Midler plays a gregarious
television show host mother of a demure schoolteacher played by
Hunt. She said Hunt, who directed the film, hounded the
two-time Oscar nominee to be in the film, then asked her to
tone down her famed bawdy antics. Midler was nominated for
1979's "The Rose" and 1991's "For The Boys."
"She nagged me," she said. "She wanted me to be much lower
key than what I usually am. I was a little nervous about that,
but I think she was right."
Midler has acted in only a few films in the past decade
after starring in a raft of films in the late 1980s and early
1990s, including "Ruthless People" and "Beaches."
"There is a cycle to it and you are hot for 10 years and
then ... you do what you do," she said. "I have been very lucky
because I have my own shows that I really love to do and my own
music that I have been singing since I was a kid."
But she had once hoped for more dramatic roles after her
star-making turn in "The Rose."
"I was really hoping I would go on that path but it didn't
turn out for me, you know, " she said. "They didn't really know
what to do with me -- and then I arrived in comedy."
While she doubts she will ever return to Broadway with its
punishing eight-shows a week schedule, she says she still gets
a kick out of show business.
"When it really belongs to me, when I own it and the house
is in my hands, I do, I love it," she said.
(Editing by Jackie Frank)