As the clock struck 12 at Bette Midler's New Year's Eve concert in L.A., a gentleman dressed as Father Time appeared onstage to honor the divinely diapered Miss M. She promptly disrobed her guest, revealing none other than auld acquaintance Barry Manilow, 36. As few remember, Barry served as Bette's arranger and pianist at a 1973 New Year's fete. "Boy, she still treats me as an employee!" said Manilow in jest. Whatever, her socko performance proved that Bette, 37, had bounced back from a rumored breakdown brought on by her box office flop, Jinxed.
Amadeus ex machina
If Mark Hamill looks pretty wigged out these days, you have to understand. It's not easy to make the switch from Luke Skywalker to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Having finished filming the second Star Wars sequel, Revenge of the Jedi, last May, Mark took on the role of the 18th-century composer in an L.A. production of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus in December. Says Hamill, 31: "I knew I could understand Mozart's frustrations. But after nearly 50 performances, I feel like I'm just scratching the surface."
It's a hard-knocks life, all right. When Annie stopped paying the rent, Broadway closed its seventh longest-running musical after 2,377 performances. As the most recent Annie, Alyson Kirk, hung up her mop-top, she was joined by her four predecessors for a final curtain call. Backstage, Alyson (left), 13 this week, shared a tearful moment with former stars Shelley Bruce (center), 17, who left the show in 1979, and Allison Smith, 13, the longest-running Annie. But cheer up, girls; there's always a Tomorrow. An Annie sequel is already in the works.