This segment contains adult language.
In the new film “Coastal Elites,” Bette Midler plays a New Yorker of a certain type: a retired teacher who lives on the Upper West Side, reads the New York Times with Talmudic attention, and is driven more than half mad by Donald Trump. So much so that one day she picks a fight in a coffee shop with a guy wearing a red MAGA hat, and her monologue takes place when she’s in police custody. The role isn’t too much of a stretch: she tells David Remnick about a long-ago dinner at the Trumps’ apartment that she recalls as a nightmare, and, just days after this interview, Midler tweeted some ill-advised comments about Melania Trump’s accent that she had to apologize for. Paul Rudnick wrote “Coastal Elites” as a series of monologues to be performed at the Public Theatre, but seeing no avenue to perform it during the pandemic, he reconceived of it as a film for HBO, starring big names like Kaitlyn Dever, Dan Levy, Sarah Paulson, and Issa Rae. And while he’s sad about the state of live theatre, Rudnick has no regrets about taking the show to television: “You actually got closer than you would if it had been staged live in the theatre,” he says. “You have the best possible seat in the house for a Bette Midler performance.”