Bette Midler says 'Bette' sitcom was a 'big mistake' — and so was not suing Lindsay Lohan

The way she tells it, Bette Midler’s short-lived sitcom “Bette” was more like a comedy of errors.

The singer-actor’s semiautobiographical CBS show premiered in 2000 and was canceled 18 episodes into its 22-episode order. Midler dissected her self-declared “big flop” Tuesday on David Duchovny’s podcast, “Fail Better.”

“I did a television show, ‘Bette.’ Does it get any more generic than that?” the “Hocus Pocus” star joked. “A big, big, big mistake.”

Midler cited a number of reasons for the show’s failure, including her poor understanding of serial television production. She’ had worked extensively in theater and film, she said, but sitcoms were uncharted territory.

“Filming a show a week is warp speed for Midler, more accustomed to the studious pace of a movie shoot,” The Times’ Carla Hall wrote in an October 2000 story about her and the show. “The sitcom films on Friday nights before an audience at the Culver City studios starting around 6:30 p.m. and ending in the wee hours, driven by Midler’s desire to get it as perfectly funny as she can.”

The week that story was reported, a coordinating producer won a pool the crew regularly held, where they put in $5 each and guessed when filming would wrap. The winning guess that week was 1:11 a.m., or nearly five hours to film a half-hour show.

“It was a form, 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,” Midler said on the podcast. “I didn’t realize what the pace was, and I didn’t understand what the hierarchy was, and nobody bothered to tell me.”

Midler was effectively sidelined on her own show.

“Because I was so green,” she said, “I didn’t know that I could have taken charge.”

That’s why, when a teenage Lindsay Lohan bailed out on “Bette” after the show’s pilot — despite being under contract — Midler didn’t fight it.

“If I had been in my right mind, or if I had known that 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 said. “But I seem to have been cosseted in some way that I couldn’t get to the writers’ room. I couldn’t speak to the showrunner. I couldn’t make myself clear.”

Midler said she aired her grievances on “The Late Show With David Letterman” and was fired the next morning.

“Bette” aired Wednesdays against “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” which was then a juggernaut. In March 2001, The Times wrote about “Bette” getting canceled, saying, “The show, in which Midler plays a diva not unlike herself, has been a ratings disappointment since its debut, and Midler herself had hinted at various times that she found the experience of starring in her own television show arduous.”

“I said, ‘Oh, isn’t that fantastic?’” Midler told Duchovny. “I was so thrilled not to have to continue because I could not gather myself enough to make it work. I didn’t know how to make it work — for so many reasons, not least of which was that it was a completely different situation than I thought it was going to be.”

However, it seems not everyone disliked the sitcom.

Days before Midler’s podcast appearance, Lohan posted a throwback photo of herself and her former “Bette” co-star on Instagram.

“Had such a blast filming,” Lohan wrote in the caption, “with the incredible @bettemidler 💕 #tbt.”

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