Bette’s regrets: No duet with Babs

DSC_9565-smKickstarter seems to have become a godsend for both new and established artists to fund their projects. Openly gay country singer Steve Grand — who just appeared at Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner last week, pictured — was looking for $81,000 for his CD All American Boy. By the deadline, he raised more than four times the amount he was looking for. With $326,593 raised, It’s been named one of the 10 most-funded music projects in Kickstarter history.

Speaking of gay country artists, Chely Wright also raised money for her new release. During her 45-day Kickstarter fundraiser, she raised $249,181! That makes her the sixth most successful Kickstarter music campaign, and the number one campaign in country music.

Someone who don’t need no Kickstarter is Bette Midler. The Divine Miss M has released her tribute to girl groups, called It’s The Girls!, and it’s a delight on every level, due in no small part to the genius producing, arranging and overall futzing by Marc Shaiman. The CD also marks a milestone for Bette: It’s her fifth consecutive decade of having an album in the top 10. That’s not a bad distinction, especially since she’s second to only one other female performer: Babs. And that brings up one of Bette’s regrets: “I would have liked to have dueted with Barbra Streisand by now. She is adorable. There was talk of a collaboration on her latest album and I wanted her on mine, too, but sadly it didn’t come to anything because we were both buried in our respective projects.” If Babs ever makes her film version of Gypsy (which Bette made for TV in 1993), maybe Midler could play a role. I can just hear her belting out, “I’m electrifying — and I ain’t even trying.”

I love the Internet, for a few reasons: 1. Virtually anyone can publish whatever they want and call it news; and 2. people will believe it. For my job (such as it is), I spend hours carefully researching stories. Others, not so much.

Last week, some websites reported that Disney would be making an animated feature about two gay princes. The alleged movie was to be based on the children’s book The Princes and the Treasure, which is a real book released earlier this year. It features two handsome princes who fall in love with each other during their quest to save a princess. So far, so good. However, the report also said that Disney would release this film in fall of 2015. How on earth could this movie be out in a matter of months when the long-gestating Finding Nemo sequel has been in production for years? Yes, someday our prince will come; but this story is a bunch of crap. Disney is not making a movie about gay princes anytime soon. Sure, many people believe that Frozen is a veiled lesbian allegory. But that’s as far as it’s going … for now.

A few years ago, the thought of a professional athlete saying he was gay would have been fantasy. But it’s happening more and more every day. Last week, it was Robbie Rogers who was out front and center. The soccer player was feted at a West Hollywood soirée to celebrate the release of his autobiography, Coming Out To Play. Since he’s the spousal equivalent of TV producer Greg Berlanti, it’s no surprise that his story has already been attached to a television show. In July, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron optioned Robbie’s life story and began developing a sitcom about a young gay male soccer player. Three months later, ABC signed off on Men In Shorts. That’s an awful lot of attention for a soccer player in the U.S. — regardless of his sexuality.

If you know one thing about me, it’s that I don’t kick someone when they’re down. Others made jokes about Clay Aiken being a perpetual bridesmaid after his second-place showing to become a congressman from North Carolina. But not moi … no sirree. I made those jokes long before the election (I always like to be first). But Clay’s a clever minx; he’s always got a plan B. A film crew was following him on the campaign trail and the result will be a four-hour documentary series for the Esquire Network (whatever that is). But we hear that some of his supporters are less than thrilled to be a part of this project. Someone who organized a fundraiser in Los Angeles went public with his dismay in an open letter. He claims that guests were misled when asked to sign waivers by the film crew — they “were told it was for a BBC documentary that would not air here in the United States.” This person feels that Clay had himself “covered with a reality TV show deal the entire time, just in case you didn’t win.” Ouch.

Here’s something you won’t read anywhere else: I was talking to someone close to Renée Zellweger and they tell me that she’s shocked anyone even noticed that she’s had massive reconstructive surgery. She didn’t think it was a big deal and is perplexed by the attention she’s attracted. I’m perplexed whenever she gets attention, but that’s just me.

Hugh Jackman has returned to Broadway in The River. The show is slated to run through Jan. 25 and, thus far, it’s been a bloody ordeal — literally. In a performance last week, he cut his finger while slicing a lemon on stage. But he gamely continued with the show while bleeding. Why didn’t he find a way to get offstage and bandage himself? Because two weeks earlier in rehearsal, he had cut another finger while preparing a fish dinner. That slice required five stitches, so Jackman was hell-bent on not repeating that situation. Although this most recent slice was less severe and didn’t require stitches (the first cut is always the deepest), his mishaps prompted his representative to quip, “Let’s try to get through The River run with at least 7.5 fingers intact!”

Our Ask Billy question comes from Javier in New Jersey: “What has that guy from Smallville — Tom Welling — been up to? God, he was gorgeous.”

One doesn’t think of Tom Welling often — or even, I daresay, annually. I have enormous fondness for him because the footage of him diving into the water wearing only a “cock sock” was first on my website. Recently, I saw one of those spreads about former heartthrobs. I remember stopping at one guy who was positively breathtaking, and positively unknown to me. It was Welling, who happens to have become an incredibly handsome man. There is virtually nothing about him that resembles his Smallville persona, so one would think he’d get some work. But since we last saw him in Cheaper By The Dozen 2 (and where, oh where, is Bonnie Hunt?), he’s done two very small film projects. Of course, he’s still big — as the video we have of him demonstrates. It’s just the projects that got small.

When anyone refers to Babs as adorable, we’ve definitely come to the end of another column. But again I ask, where is Bonnie Hunt? If you have someone or something you want me to look into, write to me and I promise to get back to you before Tom Welling turns up in a project as big as his talent.

Until next time, remember: One man’s filth is another man’s bible.

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 21, 2014