Despite rumors that her TV hubby was fired, Bette Midler insists that Kevin Dunn — who played her better half on CBS's Bette — requested to be let out of his contract.
"Kevin wanted to be let go," the Divine One tells TV Guide Online. "He wasn't happy with the material. I thought he was a terrific husband, but he didn't like what he was doing. Rather than make him suffer through the rest of his contract, it seemed better to release him and let him find peace and happiness somewhere else."
Dunn made his final appearance on Jan. 3, and Midler admits she's in no hurry to recast. "I'm not looking for someone," she says, "but I do gather that the audience likes a male presence working with me. I understand that.
"I'm just very nervous about getting involved with an actor I'm not sure of," Midler continues. "I'd like to have a different Roy on every episode: One week it could be Martin Short, another Fred Willard and the next, Chris Rock."
Finding a new spouse for Midler isn't the only challenge CBS has to contend with where the series is concerned. Despite a promising start, Bette has lagged in the ratings, and just last week, executive producer Jeffrey Lane resigned. (This interview was conducted prior to his exit.) So natch, the network probably wasn't overjoyed when Midler recently appeared on several talk shows complaining about the grind of doing a weekly series.
"I got into a lot of hot water by saying I couldn't take it anymore," the actress admits. "But I'm not sorry I said it because it was the truth. I was singing, dancing, doing location shoots, and sometimes I didn't finish until two in the morning. I had no idea it was going to be that hard. It was like doing a little Broadway show every week. Now, we're cutting back. I just did a show with [co-star] Joanna Gleason in which she got to shine and I was in the background. I was really happy that, at least for a minute, it wasn't me shining."
To that end, Midler says she's interested in expanding the show's ensemble. "We're going to look for great characters [that] people really want to tune in to see and fall in love with," she explains. "I need help around the house. I have no housekeeper. I have no driver. I have no hairdresser. I have no make-up person. I mean, I am expected to be a star and iron my clothes!"