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Bette Midler revisits 'old friends' _ her star-making songs

Bette Midler is going back to the beginning of her career — the divine beginning.

The Grammy- and Emmy Award-winner is re-releasing a deluxe version of "The Divine Miss M," her 1972 debut album that included the hits "Do You Want To Dance," ''Chapel Of Love," ''Friends" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."

"They were the songs that launched me, really. They were the foundation on which I built my career," Midler said. "I'm always happy to sing them because they're friends. They're old friends."

Midler made a name for herself in the early 1970s singing high-energy concerts downtown with Barry Manilow as her pianist. In vintage clothing and with her bawdy personality, she breathed new life into old songs and made torch songs scalding.

"She was, and is, the most brilliant performer we have in my lifetime," Manilow said. "When it came to the music, her taste in songs and her choices were so odd — what was on the radio those days was nothing like what she wanted to do. Her taste was very much my taste."

Midler and Manilow put together a solid hour of music and one night lured Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun to a swanky midtown nightclub to hear it. "The audience was so crazy that at the end of the show they carried her out on their shoulders," Manilow recalled.

Midler soon signed with Atlantic and released "The Divine Miss M" based on her act. She won a best new artist Grammy in 1973 and went on to get two more, plus four Golden Globes and three Emmys. This spring she returns to Broadway in a revival of the musical "Hello, Dolly!"

She admitted to being a little shocked revisiting the platinum-selling album that made it all possible 44 years later: "It's just unbelievable the way that time passes. And yet I still look fabulous. What can I say?"

Midler was hands-on with the re-release by Rhino Records, including selecting the bonus disc of singles, outtakes and demos. There are five unreleased recordings, including "Mr. Freedom And I," and an alternate version of "Superstar."

She recalled that recording the album was stressful because co-producers Joel Dorn and Manilow didn't get along: "In those days, I was really caught between a rock and a hard place. I couldn't really stand up for myself."

Dorn, who had produced Roberta Flack, was the first to take a crack at it. He threw out Manilow's tried-and-true arrangements and started from scratch. When it was finished, Midler stopped by to play it for Manilow.

"Sure enough, she sounded like Roberta Flack. She sounded beautiful and professional and boring," said Manilow. "She was never boring. That's the last word you would ever describe Bette Midler, especially in those days."

Manilow vowed to not let that album out — "I was this young, punk musician but I believed so much in her," he said — and lobbied Ertegun to let him produce a handful of the songs his way. It was a bluff: He'd never produced an album.

Manilow tried to re-create a live vibe in the studio, inviting an audience and stringing some lights. "I wanted to get that wonderful personality on this record," he said. "No, she didn't sound like Roberta Flack." His tracks were melded with Dorn's for the final album.

"Over the years she has sounded much better on other albums. But this album was so special and so unique and so individual and the performances are so brilliant — they're funny and they're moving, just the way it should be," said Manilow. "I was glad that I fought for her."

The power and pizazz of "The Divine Miss M" was one reason Midler was asked by Blake Shelton to mentor his picks on "The Voice" this season. In a segment already taped, she advised them to take the stage with authority.

"They get really brilliant voices but they're very self-effacing people. They're not personality-driven. They don't come fully charged. That's a piece of the puzzle that they sometimes miss," Midler said. "The old school is to be able to do it all and to be a compelling presence on the stage."

Midler's next project will show off all those skills — Broadway's revival of "Hello, Dolly!" Demand for her is big — the box office took in $9 million the day tickets went on sale.

"I'm in training. I can honestly say that. I know there's a lot of expectations and people are looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to it, too, but I have a lot of weight on my shoulders," she said. "I want to make sure my i's are dotted and my t's are crossed."




Follow Mark Kennedy at .

Donald Trump calls SNL impersonation 'boring and unfunny'

Donald Trump is not happy with "Saturday Night Live." 

Trump and Hillary Clinton have been the focus of recent skits on the weekend comedy show, which parodied the two candidates' performances at the presidential debates.

>> Read more trending stories  

With Kate McKinnon acting as Clinton and Alec Baldwin playing Trump, the two have exaggerated moments at the debates and poked fun at both candidates. 

But Trump isn't laughing. 

The Republican presidential candidate tweeted Sunday morning saying, "Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me.Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election."

SNL's Saturday skit, which spoofed the second presidential debate, showed an audience member posing a question to Trump and Clinton: "Do you feel that you're modeling appropriate and positive behavior for today's youth?"

Baldwin answered "No, next," before an Anderson Cooper character asked, "So you don't care about the kids?"

"I love the kids, OK? I love them so much I marry them," Baldwin said.

Trump recently came under fire for allegedly walking into dressing rooms of former teen beauty pageant contestants and for making comments about Paris Hilton when she was only 12 years old.

Another scene in the skit shows an undecided black voter named James asking Baldwin-as-Trump if he believes he can be a "devoted president to all the people." Baldwin responds by calling the man "Denzel" and talking about violence in inner cities.

He also said his Democratic opponent "has committed so many crimes, she's basically a black."

AOL said that there has been "a shift in how Trump has been portrayed" on the show, saying that "Television critics have noted that the depiction of the real-estate magnate has taken a darker turn since Baldwin stepped into the role at the beginning of the season."

Trump calls SNL spoof 'hit job,' calls for end of show

Donald Trump has some choice words for "Saturday Night Live."

The Republican presidential candidate tweeted early Sunday morning that the show's skit depicting him this week was a "hit job." Trump went on to write that it's "time to retire" the show, calling it "boring and unfunny" and adding that Alec Baldwin's portrayal of him "stinks."

Saturday's show featured a send-up of the second presidential debate last held last Sunday at Washington University in St. Louis.

Baldwin, who retweeted Trump's critique, has been playing him on "Saturday Night Live" since its 42nd season kicked off a few weeks ago, with Kate McKinnon depicting Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

Trump himself hosted an episode of "Saturday Night Live" last November.

In Trump's 'Apprentice' run, reality wasn't what it seemed

The skyline shimmers, the music pulses and Donald Trump's helicopter swoops in for a landing.

Oozing authority, the billionaire strides purposefully — in slow-motion, for added impact — toward some important matter of business in "New York, my city," as Trump calls it.

Week by week, year by year, 14 seasons of "The Apprentice" or "Celebrity Apprentice" served as a grand homage to all things Trump, running from 2004 to 2015.

Donald Trump the actor made Donald Trump the businessman seem pretty fabulous. Americans never saw what was taking place behind the scenes.

The show offered Trump the ultimate opportunity for product placement: Contestants fawned over Trump's gilded-to-excess Fifth Avenue apartment, his casinos, golf courses, even his girlfriend and later wife Melania. They promoted his modeling company, his water bottles and other Trump-branded businesses, as the man himself spun out bits of business advice known as "Donaldisms" and bemoaned the daunting task of telling eager young dreamers, "You're fired."

This picture of Trump as smart, decisive, blunt, benevolent, rich — really rich — and never wrong turned out to be the ideal launching pad for his improbable presidential campaign.

That it didn't always jibe with reality didn't seem to matter to the millions of Americans who turned "The Apprentice" into a national phenomenon. Or to NBC, which reveled in the show's sky-high ratings early on, and kept tinkering with the formula in an effort to revive them in later years.

It turns out that the unseen side of "The Apprentice" was darker : Show insiders have told the AP that in his years as a reality TV boss, Trump repeatedly demeaned women with sexist language, rating female contestants by the size of their breasts and talking about which ones he'd like to have sex with.

And one former contestant, Summer Zervos, said Friday that Trump made unwanted sexual advances toward her in 2007 when she met with him at a Beverly Hills hotel to talk about a potential job. Zervos, who had competed on the show in 2006, said Trump became sexually aggressive during their meeting at the hotel, kissing her open-mouthed and touching her breasts.

Speculation about what kind of Trump conduct might be lurking in video out-takes from the show has swirled in recent days, since the release of "Access Hollywood" footage showing Trump joking about grabbing women by the genitals and kissing them without asking. But the owners of the "Apprentice" production company say they cannot legally release footage from the show.

Trump's boorish behavior toward women wasn't apparent to viewers of the reality TV show.

And for all of the snickering about the silliness of reality TV, pop culture expert Robert Thompson says, the show was "very, very important to shaping, framing and establishing the person of Donald Trump who would then go on to become the GOP nominee."

"If 'The Apprentice' had never happened, I don't think Donald Trump would be where he is right now politically," says Thompson.

Trump already had an outsized reputation when he launched "The Apprentice" in January 2004. By that point, the businessman with a knack for self-promotion had already soared high, fallen from grace, become something of a punchline and was back on the rebound, more focused on licensing his name than building things. He'd eagerly done any number of cameos in movies and TV shows to promote himself as a titan of business.

"My name's Donald Trump and I'm the largest real estate developer in New York," Trump declared as he launched Season 1, Episode 1 of "The Apprentice" with trademark immodesty. "I've mastered the art of the deal and I've turned the name Trump into the highest quality brand. As the master, I want to pass along my knowledge to somebody else."

That was a fact-check-worthy way to start things off, and Trump's hometown newspaper, The New York Times, obliged by pointing out that while the audacious star of "The Apprentice" might have had the highest profile among the city's developers, plenty of others were doing more and bigger deals.

Trump had been approached with reality TV proposals before, but nothing clicked until "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett came to him with the idea of a show set in the "urban jungle" of New York.

The original idea was to have a different business executive serve as host every season, with Trump the first, says Jeff Gaspin, head of program strategy at NBC Entertainment in 2001-2002 and later chairman of NBC Entertainment.

"His role was originally fairly small — introduce the challenge then appear in a brief boardroom scene," Gaspin said in an interview. "Donald turned out to be a natural and really loved being on camera. The boardroom scenes were expanded to almost one-third of the show."

People gravitated to Trump's persona as a tough, decisive and irreverent boss who offered "at least the illusion of a pathway to success," says Yale's Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, an associate dean who wrote public critiques of the show for newspapers. He got to know Trump after the businessman called to complain about the academic's harsh reviews of Trump's on-air business practices.

To many Americans, says Sonnenfeld, Trump represented the "embodiment of the American dream," harking back to the "Daddy Warbucks" imagery of decades past.

It made for good TV — never mind the reality that Trump got ahead with inherited money, that his casinos were headed for more bankruptcies, that his deals often weren't as lucrative as he'd suggested or that his projects left behind a trail of contractors saddled with unpaid bills. Beyond of all of that, there are the new revelations about Trump's vulgar comments about women contestants and crew members, and Zervos' allegations that Trump made sexual advances toward her.

Trump himself initially seemed almost gob-smacked by how quickly the show took off.

"I go into the boardroom, I rant and rave like a lunatic to these kids, and I leave and I go off and build my buildings," Trump told CNN's Larry King in 2004. "And then it gets good ratings, and they pay me. I mean, can you believe this?"

The line between reality and TV on the show was blurry then, and it's still a matter of debate now.

Trump has suggested the show was a hit because it captured the authentic Trump. At other times, though, he's dismissed some of his insulting comments on "The Apprentice" by saying "a lot of that was entertainment."

Reality was nothing like the reel in some aspects.

Despite Trump's on-camera declaration in January 2004 that he'd weathered financial trials and "worked it all out" by using his savvy to come back stronger than ever, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc. declared bankruptcy that August. In 2009, Trump's casino interests went through another bankruptcy. An additional corporate bankruptcy in 2012 wiped out Trump's remaining stake.

As for the benevolent side of Trump showcased on "The Apprentice," The Washington Post reported in August that in almost every instance in which Trump pledged on the show to make a personal contribution to a charity highlighted on "Celebrity Apprentice," the donation really came from sources other than Trump.

Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant, says Trump was adept at the two skills necessary to succeed on TV: "having a rap and being provocative." His rap: "I'm a business wizard." His provocations: unending.

"You scream, you shout," says Dezenhall. "The whole concept of 'you're fired' is isolating your enemy. You're identifying someone bad and exposing them. That's exactly what this campaign is about."


AP Television Writer David Bauder in New York contributed to this report.


Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at

EDITOR'S NOTE _ This is one in a series of stories looking at aspects of the lives of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Major-leaguers lend voices to cartoon series show

Just in time for the World Series, Cartoon Network’s “Uncle Grandpa” animated series will sport a Fall Classic theme on Oct. 22.

>> Read more trending stories

The show will air at 12:15 p.m. and will feature Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer, Baltimore Orioles All-Star center fielder Adam Jones, Houston Astros second baseman José Altuve, Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price and New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard.

The major-leaguers will attempt to help Uncle Grandpa train his struggling Little League squad.

Sports figures have appeared in cartoon series before. In 1972, for example, the Harlem Globetrotters helped Scooby-Doo and friends solve another mystery. Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali had his own series — complete with rhyming poetry. And in 1992, “The Simpsons” episode “Homer at the Bat” included the voices of Ken Griffey Jr., Roger Clemens, Ozzie Smith, Jose Canseco, Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly, Wade Boggs, Darryl Strawberry, Steve Sax and Mike Scioscia.

Uncle Grandpa introduces the players in a “Field of Dreams” kind of setting, with each player emerging from a row of corn.

The show will air three days before Game 1 of the World Series, which will open at the park of the American League champion.

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Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

Guest lineups for the Sunday TV news shows:

ABC's "This Week" — Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; former CIA Director David Petraeus.


NBC's "Meet the Press" — Vice President Joe Biden; Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence.


CBS' "Face the Nation" — Pence, Kaine


CNN's "State of the Union" — Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.


"Fox News Sunday" — Pence, Kaine

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

Guest lineups for the Sunday TV news shows:

ABC's "This Week" — Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; former CIA Director David Petraeus.


NBC's "Meet the Press" — Vice President Joe Biden; Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence.


CBS' "Face the Nation" — Pence.


CNN's "State of the Union" — Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.


"Fox News Sunday" — Pence.

Nancy Grace signs off from HLN after 12 years

Nancy Grace has said goodnight for the final time after 12 years of discussing true crime stories from a prosecutor's point of view on TV.

Grace ended her HLN program Thursday night. She signed off by highlighting some of her most popular moments on the program, including her coverage of the Casey Anthony trial, before thanking her fans and saying , "it's not goodbye, it's just good night friend."

The former Atlanta prosecutor's interest in law was sparked in college when her fiancee was murdered.

Grace hasn't offered any specifics on her future plans. She began her television career on Court TV before moving to HLN in 2005.

Grace's program will be replaced by one hosted by CNN's Ashleigh Banfield.

Ken Bone learns the hard way what it's like to be famous

The 34-year-old undecided voter from Illinois became an overnight sensation following his appearance in a bright red sweater at the second presidential debate last weekend. He answered questions from Reddit users late Thursday and early Friday.

Bone included his Reddit username in a Twitter post announcing the session. Those who looked up the name found Bone has shared his thoughts on such topics as images of a pregnant woman in a bikini and the increased "sexual satisfaction" he found after undergoing a vasectomy.

In another post, he said the 2012 fatal shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin was justified but also expressed contempt for the shooter, George Zimmerman.

The comments surprised some on social media, with one Twitter user joking: "example 1,345,702 that you should never meet your heroes because they're probably a weirdy." Another said that the undecided voter was "no longer undecided on the whole 'twitter comes for everyone eventually.'"

Bone conceded that using his actual Reddit username in announcing the chat was "a bad call," but he also said: "I'm not running for president. I can say whatever I want."

He also elaborated on his experience going from an unknown to a topic of conversation across the country in a matter of hours.

"It's been unreal, both the good and the bad. Everybody has responded to the positive message with the exception of a few nuts," he wrote on Reddit. "For instance, I've had almost a quarter million new Twitter followers, and only 3 death threats. Great ratio!"

Bone has been quick to capitalize on his newfound fame. He tweeted a since-deleted ad for Uber Wednesday and is selling shirts with an image of himself similar to Shepard Fairey's "HOPE" poster created for President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign.

Jimmy Kimmel has tapped Bone to serve as a special correspondent reporting from Las Vegas for his special post-debate program Wednesday.

Billy Bush lawyer: Bush risked firing if he rebuked Trump

An attorney for Billy Bush is defending the TV personality's part in a lewd 2005 exchange with Donald Trump.

Marshall Grossman told The Hollywood Reporter that Bush would have been fired from his then-job with "Access Hollywood" if he'd been passive or told Trump to shut up.

Grossman noted Bush was a NBC Universal employee talking with NBC's "The Apprentice" star.

The attorney, who was quoted by the trade paper online Thursday, declined comment when reached by phone.

Bush, who joined NBC News' "Today" as a co-host in recent months, was suspended after the tape became public last week. NBC is said to be privately negotiating his exit.

Both NBC and "Access Hollywood" declined to comment on the report. A publicist for Bush didn't immediately respond when asked for comment.

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