Bette (TV series)
|Created by||Jeffrey Lane|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||18 (2 unaired)|
|Executive producer(s)||Jeffrey Lane
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||D-Train Productions
All Girl Productions
|Distributor||Sony Pictures Television
CBS Television Distribution
|Original release||October 11, 2000– March 7, 2001|
Bette is a CBS television show which premiered on October 11, 2000, and was the debut of the entertainer Bette Midler in a lead TV series role. A "one-season wonder", 16 episodes were aired on CBS, with its final telecast on March 7, 2001. Eighteen episodes in total were produced, with the final two broadcast on HDTV simulcasting and in foreign markets. Bette was created by Jeffrey Lane, with Midler serving as one of the executive producers.
The cheerful, high-energy sitcom had Midler playing herself - a "divine celebrity" who is adored by her fans. To apply some ambiguity, neither Bette's last name nor that of her on-screen family's was used, to create the offset that there was some difference between the star's real-life and TV persona. There were several similarities to Midler's actual career through the show's run, as the character of Bette had - and directly performed - many of the real-life Midler's past hit songs and achievements. The core of the stories focused on Bette's personal life in her luxurious Los Angeles home. Her husband of nearly 20 years, Roy (Kevin Dunn, eps. 1-12; Robert Hays, eps. 16-18) was an earnest college history professor, and their 13-year-old daughter, Rose (Lindsay Lohan, pilot episode; Marina Malota, eps. 2-18) was bright, active, and not the least bit fazed by her mother's celebrity. Embarking with Bette on her long, wild journey around showbiz was her hardworking best friend and manager, Connie Randolph (Joanna Gleason). Refined Englishman Oscar (James Dreyfus) was Bette's veteran musical director/accompanist, who had an obsession with tabloid media and was always on the lookout for new, strange exploitations of Bette. During the series' run, slightly-fictional Bette recorded a new album, engaged in hijinks at award shows, won a Grammy, made guest roles on series such as JAG and Family Law (a cross promotion by CBS), and starred in a TV Halloween special with Dolly Parton (who appeared as herself, and was said to be longtime friend of the Bette character; Parton and Midler are friends in real life). Other stories were out of the spotlight and closer to home; in one, Bette volunteered at Rose's school with surprising results, and in another, flashbacks were shown depicting the first time Bette met Connie, Roy and Oscar (in that order), along with one featuring the birth of Rose.
Many of Midler's celebrity friends appeared as themselves during the show's short run. Guest stars included Danny DeVito, George Segal, Brenda Song, Sharon Lawrence, Tim Curry, David James Elliott, Oprah Winfrey, Ashley Tisdale, Tony Danza, Dolly Parton, Olivia Newton-John, Lindsay Lohan, Jon Lovitz, and the ladies from rival network ABC's The View all as themselves.
The show's 16 episodes aired Wednesday nights until its cancellation. Originally in the 8pm time slot, Bette was moved to 8:30/7:30c in February 2001 and aired only a few more times. There were two episodes that went unaired on network TV, but the last two episodes were aired in HDTV in which it was simulcast.
When Bette went into production, Lindsay Lohan was the original choice to play Rose. After the completion of the pilot episode, Midler decided that the series would shoot in Los Angeles, instead of New York City, where the pilot was filmed. Lohan did not want to continually commute from her family's current residence in New York City, as the filming schedule for a TV series (typically 22 episodes per season) was more than the 14-year-old was willing to do when having to travel the country. Therefore, Lohan was out, but Midler and the producers decided to keep the pilot (presumably because it added extra attention to the show's debut - Lohan had already made her name as a major child star in The Parent Trap). They began shooting the following episodes with the next choice in casting, Marina Malota.
Several episodes into the series, Kevin Dunn grew unhappy with the increasingly minimal role and lack of development his character Roy was facing. Immediately after episode 12, Dunn departed. The next three episodes of Bette made mentions to Roy but did not use the role, as a replacement was in the midst of being found. Before long, Robert Hays was hired to take over, whose well-chiseled and more youthful physique provided a stark contrast to Dunn. The first Hays episode, "A Brand New Roy" (#16), aired on March 7, 2001, and was infamous for two reasons. In the episode's prologue, everyone in the cast except Roy is at Bette's kitchen table watching a daytime soap opera. Oscar starts a discussion about actors frequently changing in a single role on soaps, with Bette closing with the fact that "It's such a shame when viewers get used to one actor for a long time." She then asks, "Do they think we as viewers are so stupid not to notice? Am I right, Roy?". The scene then cuts to Roy, now played by Hays, sticking his head out from the refrigerator door, asking with a comical look on his face, "What's that you said, honey?". Although Hays filmed three episodes of Bette before the official cancellation, his debut broadcast was the last one aired on CBS.
- Bette Midler as Bette.
- Kevin Dunn as Roy (eps. 1-12)
- Robert Hays as Roy (eps. 16-18)
- Lindsay Lohan as Rose (pilot)
- Marina Malota as Rose (eps. 2-18)
- Joanna Gleason as Connie Randolph
- James Dreyfus as Oscar
- Golden Globe (2001) - Nominated - "Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical" - Bette Midler
- People's Choice Awards (2001) - Won - "Favorite Female Performer in a New Television Series" - Bette Midler
- TV Guide Awards (2001) - Won - "Actress of the Year in a New Series" - Bette Midler
- TV Guide Awards (2001) - Nominated - "New Series of the Year"
- Emmy (2001) - Nominated - "Outstanding Art Direction for a Multi-Camera Series" - Bernard Vyzga (production designer) & Lynda Burbank (set decorator) for the pilot
- Excellence in Production Design Award Television - Won - "Episode of a Multi-Camera Series" - Bernard Vyzga (production designer) & Rich Rohrer (assistant art director) for the pilot
- "A Star Vehicle Sputters: CBS Cancels 'Bette'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
- "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK: TV Vehicles Running on Retreads; In New Sitcoms, Stars Often Play Themselves or Throwback Characters". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
- "CBS Adds Comedies, Aiming Midler at 'Millionaire'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
- "Bette's 'Canceled' Canceled". People. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
- "The Bitter End". EW.com. 2001-06-01. Retrieved 2013-10-25.