'20 Feet From Stardom' -- a history of the voices behind the voices.

Girl, what the h--l is the matter with you. How come you're having a heart attack? Explain this to me!''

That was the great Darlene Love, doing her best Bette Midler imitation (and it's very good!), telling what Bette phoned and said to her, a week after Darlene's heart attack several years ago. Bette knew Darlene was out of danger. She called her old friend to make her laugh.

Darlene told this story the other day at a celebration for Morgan Neville's fantastic documentary "20 Feet From Stardom.''

This tells the history of backup singers -- you know, those girls who stand in the back harmonizing with the star, filling in notes the star can't hit, and sometimes -- as in Darlene Love's case, singing the whole song, and then seeing it released under another group's name. So this is an extraordinarily poignant, life- and talent-affirming look at these women, some of whom -- like the majestic, incredible Lisa Fischer -- seem content not to have made it "big'' as a solo performer. There are others who have regrets, but concede that perhaps they didn't have the stamina, confidence or "killer instinct'' to go it alone.

This event, put together by the tireless Peggy Siegal, happened on the 36th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at Columbus Circle in Manhattan. Most of the people gathered there had already seen the film, which was a sensation on the festival circuit and is now in theaters. It has so far taken in $3 million -- the most successful documentary of the year -- and...

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