THAT OLD FEELING
[Starring] Bette MIDLER, Dennis FARINA, Danny NUCCI, Paula MARSHALL, Gail O’GRADY [Director] Carl REINER
Midler fans who’ve always wanted a sequel to the 1987 hit Outrageous Fortune are finally getting it. Sort of. Screenwriter Leslie Dixon thought better of doing an outright Fortune sequel because Midler and Shelley Long — whose clashes during filming were no secret in the industry — would both have had script approval. ”By the time we got the script where they both liked it,” says Dixon, ”we would’ve had to call it Outrageous Whales of August.”
Five years ago, however, she completed the comedy That Old Feeling with Midler in mind. In this one, Midler is a mercurial movie star, and instead of warring with the uptight Long, she’s warring with her Get Shorty costar Dennis Farina, who plays her very estranged ex-husband. Reunited at their daughter’s wedding, they fight and fall back in love while Midler tries to avoid a persistent member of the paparazzi (Nucci).
Dixon wrote the movie on spec after watching her own divorced parents act friendly to each other, and it immediately met with the star’s approval (”It’s a bedroom farce,” says Midler, ”but it has very high aspirations”). But Midler was locked into an exclusive contract with Disney at the time, so Dixon waited until she was available. ”I couldn’t think of anyone else,” says Dixon. ”When everything finally came together, I was eight and a half months pregnant. It was the most inconvenient time imaginable, so I knew it would happen.” Newcomer Paula Marshall was cast as the young bride, and when cop-turned-actor Farina was cast, Dixon made his character a crime novelist to accommodate his gruff edges.
Despite the delays, That Old Feeling fits nicely into Midler’s current game plan. Since the 1991 flop For the Boys, she has decided to go for straight comedies, and the success of last year’s The First Wives Club proves she may be on to something (she also recently signed on to the Eva Gabor role in the upcoming big-screen version of Green Acres). ”I used to be a big fan of this kind of romantic comedy, but I can’t think of the last time they made a picture like this,” says Midler. ”Everything [today] is so stupid. And the language! They don’t even speak anymore. They grunt.”
On hand to keep Feeling’s repartee witty was director Reiner, who was lured to the project by producer Sid Sheinberg. Since the team had turned out a hit, The Jerk, and a bomb, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, says Reiner, ”I knew we had at least a 50-50 chance of making a good movie.” (April 4)
[WHAT’S AT STAKE] Midler needs another hit to maintain her First Wives heat. Otherwise, Green Acres is the place to be.
INVENTING THE ABBOTTS
[Starring] Liv TYLER, Joaquin PHOENIX, Billy CRUDUP, Jennifer CONNELLY, Joanna GOING, Kathy BAKER, Will PATTON [Director] Pat O’CONNOR
It may take place in 1957, but Leave It to Beaver it’s not. ”You always feel like people didn’t have sex then because they slept in separate beds on the television shows,” says Tyler, who stars as one of the film’s five hormonally active Illinois youngsters. In The Abbotts’ era, sex is as popular as Elvis, thanks to the many flirtations and couplings among the three privileged Abbott sisters (Tyler, Connelly, and Going) and the poor, horny Holt brothers (To Die For’s Phoenix and Sleepers’ Crudup).