The divine Bette Midler will play the title role in the HBO biopic Mae West, directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist) and written by Tony winner Harvey Fierstein (Kinky Boots, Torch Song Trilogy), according to Deadline.
Based on West's autobiography Goodness Had Nothing to Do With It, the film will track West's early days as a Broadway performer and playwright. After appearing in a handful of musicals starting at age 18, the Brooklyn native later caused a sensation with her bawdy 1926 play Sex, which she wrote, produced, directed and headlined. City officials raided the theater at a performance, arresting and prosecuting West on morals charges, sentencing her to ten days in jail for "corrupting the morals of youth." Now a media sensation, West continued to find success on the stage; even if her gay-themed The Drag didn't make it to Broadway, she had a big hit with Diamond Lil. The play took the rising star to Hollywood, where she became one of the highest-grossing stars of the 1930s, never losing her bawdy flavor.
Midler also got her start on the stages of New York (both Broadway and bathhouse) and has long named West as one of her idols. She is currently starring in the Los Angeles premiere of I'll Eat You Last, the Broadway comeback vehicle that earned her a 2013 Broadway.com Audience Choice Award for Favorite Actress in a Play.