'Parental Guidance' unites Crystal, Midler
In this Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 photo, Billy Crystal, left, and Bette Midler, cast members in the film "Parental Guidance," pose together for a portrait at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Los Angeles. Longtime friends Crystal and Midler finally share the screen in “Parental Guidance,” in theaters Christmas Day. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — After nearly 30 years of friendship and shared tastes in movies, music and comedy, Billy Crystal and Bette Midler have finally taken it to the next level: They did a film together.
The two veteran entertainers first met on the comedy circuit, but never actually worked together until "Parental Guidance," in theaters Christmas Day.
"He says we met in the '60s at the Improv, and of course I don't remember any of that because I was going so fast," Midler said in a recent interview.
Crystal and Midler share the screen for the first time in the family film, playing a married couple who bumble their way along to bonding with their grandchildren. Marisa Tomei stars as their Type-A daughter, who regrets having to entrust her three kids to "the other grandparents" during a business trip with her husband when her in-laws aren't available.
The idea for the movie came from Crystal's real-life experience caring for his own granddaughters, now ages 6 and 9. He and wife Janice were confounded by the "pages and pages" of rules their daughter left behind. (That daughter, actress Jennifer Crystal Foley, plays a small role in the film.)
"We had them for six days all alone, and on the seventh day I rested," said Crystal, 64. "And I came into the office and started writing the story of grandparents who have to babysit for their kids while they go away."
Midler found the script just as she was looking for a family-film project, and she immediately connected with the humor and warmth of the story.
"I wanted to do something that everybody could come and see, because that's what I grew up with," she said.
"It came at a really good point in our lives and our careers to finally find each other and be able to share the responsibilities for the movie together and our scenes," Crystal said. "She's an old pro, in the best of ways. Take out old, she's a pro. And very giving, very funny, and very willing to try anything."
Except sing. Crystal said the Oscar-nominated and Tony-winning star was reluctant to perform a sweet song-and-dance number with him in the film.
"The only time I ever had to wrestle her was on singing the song. She didn't want to do it," he said. "(She said,) 'No, then they'll say Bette Midler is singing a song.' And I say, 'No, we won't sing great. We'll sing good, but we'll sing like parents, and we'll sing together.'"