Whenever I think of sassy camp queen Bette Midler, I always think of magisterial Oscar winner Helen Mirren.
Well, maybe not. But someone obviously does.
You see, Bette just hurt her back and had to drop out of playing Phil Spector‘s lawyer in the HBO movie about the convicted killer, starring Al Pacino, so who did they replace her with?
Which makes me wonder: If Helen had dropped out of The Queen, would they have gotten Bette for the part?
It would have been so magical:
“So I said to myself, I said, ‘Self, you gotta say something about Di’s death or the public’ll think you’re a cheap, tawdry broad.
“And you are, Blanche! After all, I am the French leftenant’s whore! What’s it to ya?
“But where are those real British queens — Elton, Rupert, and Sir Ian, ba dum pum?
“I know where George Michael is — coming on to some bobby’s billy stick in the loo, God love him.”
And then she could have entranced Parliament with a rousing version of “Big Noise From Winnetka.” It would have been so beautiful; the Oscar would have surely been as inevitable as when Dame Helen got it.
And as Mrs. Tolstoy in The Last Station, Bette would have really rocked.
“Leo, would you finish that damned book already. I feel at war with your piece!”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 20, 2011