Bette Midler’s Biggest Regret About Her 2000 Sitcom Is Not Suing Lindsay Lohan

Lohan bolted the show after filming the pilot
Bette Midler’s Biggest Regret About Her 2000 Sitcom Is Not Suing Lindsay Lohan

Bette Midler has been nominated for two Oscars, snagged a handful of Grammys and took home a Tony. But when it came to sitcoms, Midler lost her magic touch. “I did a television show, Bette,” she told David Duchovny on his Fail Better podcast. “Does it get any more generic than that? A big, big, big mistake.”

Actually, Midler made a lot of mistakes on her 2000 show: “It was the wrong motivation. (Sitcoms were) a part of the media I simply did not understand. I watched it. I appreciated it. I enjoyed it. But I didn't know what it meant to make it.”

Don’t remember Bette? Understandable. Midler played a version of herself, a big celebrity who also led a quiet domestic life with her professor husband and teenage daughter, played by Lindsay Lohan. Well, a teenage daughter who was supposed to have been played by Lindsay Lohan. 

“After the pilot, Lindsay Lohan decided she didn’t want to do it, or she had other fish to fry,” Midler said. “So Lindsay Lohan left the building and I said, ‘Well, now what do you do?’ And the studio didn’t help me. It was extremely chaotic.”

Midler, whose All Girl Productions and Miss M Productions are listed as two of the sitcom’s producers, didn’t know what to do. Lohan was presumably under contract so deciding “she had other fish to fry” shouldn’t have been a good enough reason to bolt. “If I had been in my right mind, or if I had known that my part of my duties were to stand up and say, ‘This absolutely will not do, I’m going to sue,’ then I would have done that,” Midler explained to Duchovny.

The show went on without Lohan but Midler had more frustrations. “I seemed to have been cosseted in some way that I couldn't get to the writer's room. I couldn't speak to the showrunner. I couldn't make myself clear,” she complained. Despite her name being in the title, the frustrated comic actress had little control. “I had never done a situation comedy. I didn’t realize what the pace was. And I didn’t understand what the hierarchy was. And no one bothered to tell me.”

Whose responsibility was it to explain sitcom hierarchy to Midler? Most performers figure that out for themselves. It couldn’t have been that different from the movie business, where both the studio and the director would have more sway than Midler. CBS Productions or TriStar Columbia Television would have been the more likely entities to hold Lohan to her contract, but no matter. Midler was miserable. “I was so green, I didn’t understand what my options were, what choices I could have made to improve my situation,” she says. “I didn’t know that I could have taken charge."

In a way, that’s just what Midler did. She made an appearance on Letterman and complained about the show, calling it “the worst thing that’s ever happened to me in my entire life.” The next day, her lawyer called to tell her she was fired. The show was almost done filming its only season anyway, and Midler “was so thrilled not to have to continue. I didn’t know how to make it work for so many reasons. So I was glad to be fired.” 


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