Idina Menzel's years as a wedding singer helped her tackle 'Wind Beneath My Wings' for Lifetime's 'Beaches' remake

When news broke earlier this year that Lifetime would be remaking tear-jerker “Beaches,” the 1988 film that starred Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey as lifelong friends, one of the first concerns among die-hard fans was what would become of the classic song “Wind Beneath My Wings” sung by Midler?

Not to worry. Broadway powerhouse Idina Menzel, who takes on the role of CC originated by Midler, was able to call upon her years as a wedding and bar mitzvah singer.

“Every 13-year-old boy danced to it with his mother,” Menzel said Friday during the panel for the telepic at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena. “I’m well-rehearsed. It was just trying to find my own spin on it.”

Menzel, whose powerful singing voice has been heard in “Frozen” and “Rent,” said she spent about an hour in the recording studio laying down the track for the much-admired song.

“I’m a perfectionist; I did it a bunch of times,” she said. 

Menzel was joined onstage by Nia Long, who takes on the role of Hillary (originated by Hershey), and the film’s executive producers Denise Di Novi and Alison Greenspan, as well as director Allison Anders.

The original film told the story of CC, an aspiring singer, and the friendship she develops with a rich girl, Hillary, at the boardwalk in Atlantic City. In Lifetime’s version, the friends connect at the Venice boardwalk in Los Angeles.

“What we were able to do is update the friendship … and update the music,” Anders said. 

Menzel admitted she felt the pressure of capturing the power of the original for a whole new generation.

“If I’m being completely honest, I was terrified at first,” said Menzel, who told of how she “cried her eyes out” while watching the original in high school. “Both those women, especially Bette Midler for me, was an idol my whole life. I continue to be inspired by her, but it’s a daunting task.”

Long added: “This is really a film about friendship, about sisterhood, and about girl power. It was definitely challenging and fun. There were those scenes where we had to bond as best friends. It was really natural. We really have an understanding of life, and we both have our own best friends and we’re both mothers, so a lot of the themes in the film really resonate pretty easily. It’s about making those scenes your own and honoring the original film.”

“Beaches” will premiere Saturday, Jan. 21, on Lifetime.

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