Bette Midler Now Wishes She’d Sued A Teenage Lindsay Lohan For Quitting Sitcom

Bette Midler is opening up about her ill-fated foray into television with the benefit of nearly 24 years worth of hindsight.

Appearing on this week’s episode of David Duchovny’s “Fail Better” podcast, Midler shared some of the behind-the-scenes mishaps ― including a less-than-desirable experience working with Lindsay Lohan, who was briefly cast as her character’s daughter ― that led to the demise of her CBS series, “Bette,” after just one season.

“I believe it would have worked if I’d had a team that was on my side,” the actor and singer said. “Things happened that were so astonishing, I didn’t know those things could happen. For instance, Lindsay Lohan was cast as my daughter in the pilot. Well, after the pilot, Lindsay Lohan decided she didn’t want to do it, or she had other fish to fry. So Lindsay Lohan left the building, and I said, ‘Well, now what do you do?’ The studio didn’t help me.”

When Duchovny pointed out that Lohan’s premature departure from the show was likely a breach of contract, Midler agreed.

“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’ve done that,” she said.

“Bette” aired from October 2000 to March 2001. Though Lohan had already enjoyed big-screen success in the 1998 remake of Disney’s “The Parent Trap,” she was only 14 at the time of her “Bette” casting.

Lindsay Lohan and Bette Midler in CBS's
Lindsay Lohan and Bette Midler in CBS's "Bette." CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images

After the future “Mean Girls” star withdrew from the production, she was replaced by actor Marina Malota for the remainder of the show.

Describing “Bette” as “a big, big, big mistake,” Midler blamed much of the show’s failure on herself, adding: “It was a part of the media I simply did not understand.”

“The main thing that was so shocking to me was the pace of it,” she said. “I didn’t understand how fast you had to go. Really, you have to give people so much credit when it’s great, because the speed of it is so taxing, and if you didn’t keep up, you were in big trouble.”

Midler also recalled a conversation she’d had with late night talk show host David Letterman as the show was airing, during which he’d asked her how she felt about the experience.

“I said, ‘It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me in my entire life. It’s like being a dung beetle and pushing a pile of shit up a hill every day,’” she said. “Of course, the next day I was fired.”

As for Lohan, it appears she harbors no ill will toward the Divine Miss M. Last week, she shared a throwback photo from the “Bette” set on Instagram, noting in the caption that she’d “had such a blast filming with the incredible” Midler.

Listen to Midler’s “Fail Better” interview below. Her comments on “Bette” start around the 25:40 mark.