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Streisand to star in new film of 'Gypsy'?

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I would be very interested to see what she did with this part -- her Broadway roots might give her an insight that other actors with a more film-heavy resume. But I have to admit I would love to have a film record of any of the recent Broadway casts -- it just seems that producers don't think we want to see stage actors make that transition.

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Thanks for posting, AnthonyNYC. Streisand is a walking ad for plastic surgery of a certain price as she looks wonderful these days, but I would think it's too late. On the other hand, for a good new version of Gypsy and to see her in the role I would be willing to suspend disbelief. The voice thing is no big deal, studio help could take care of that. I think she could do it. No harm in doing a few tests and seeing how she looks and sounds.

Streisand has worked well with directors in the past (not all of them, granted). I don't think they would have too much trouble lining up someone if they do go forward. At least we know it won't be Rob Marshall, thank goodness.

But I have to admit I would love to have a film record of any of the recent Broadway casts -- it just seems that producers don't think we want to see stage actors make that transition.

Movie musicals are expensive propositions these days, which is part of it. I'd just as soon see Streisand over LuPone, Peters, et al. I'm also thinking Natalie Portman for Gypsy. She's pushing thirty but looks younger and might be a good matchup with Streisand.

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This is as superfluous as remaking 'My Fair Lady' IMO (which has gotten nowhere but talk of cast changes), and I'm very much a fan of Streisand, at least as a great singer-musician. She's a good lightweight actress, but that's not what makes her great. This is like a big show-biz power-broker project for Laurents, Sondheim, but especially Streisand. Surprised Spielberg isn't involved in this one. Lots don't like the 'Gypsy' movie from the 60s, including Sondheim, but their 'for the historical record' won't erase the earlier one. A 'real historicl record' needed Ethel Merman to begin with, a mistake always made with her except for 'Call Me Madam'.

Of Streisand projects, this one strikes me at first as one of the 'big ego trip projects' like 'A Star is Born', a kind of 'One More Big Thing for Barbra'; although 'Yentl' is one of those, and I think it's good. But I won't see this one. Most of the big B'way filmizations go the Dinosaur Route, like 'Nine'. It'll sell, but I think we've had enough of 'Gypsy' by now, and there are definitely some musicals that actually need remaking--like 'On a Clear Day You Can See Forever' (but theoretically only: No matter who did it, it would have no audience) which is Streisand's most atrocious film, and in which she even sings miserably;and 'A Little Night Music', which could easily be remade (and would have an audience, most likely: This is the one that needs it the most that I can think of right now--and modern actor/singers would definitely be able to get this right. I'd imagine they eventually will remake this.) I also don't think she'd be able to get Momma Rose right as an actress--the other great Momma Roses all have had the ability to project failure and let Gypsy be the 'real star', even though she's not the star of the musical: At the end you do believe Roz Russell when she says '...and her daughter GYPSY!'..no matter how 'drama-queen' and silly it is. Is anybody gonna believe Babs when she says, in response to Gypsy says 'If I could have, I would have', about being a star herself? Same with Lupone, who's had her ups and downs as well. The only highly-visible embarassment I can think of with Miss Streisand is her chasing Andre Agassi around the world, unless you include the 'Fockers' movies. Otherwise, she's always projecting power and an almost sterilized success--and some of it is not good (just think of her version of 'Some Enchanted Evening' on one of the B'way Albums for something really lugubriously florid. Too much of the later work has the same quality as Fitzgerald said of Daisy: 'Her voice is full of money'. This is the case even on pleasant, sensual-sounding things like 'Something Wonderful'.)

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That's a good point. I would say in that respect she might bring some different flavors to the part. Rose is monstrous but she doesn't have to wear it on her sleeve.

My Fair Lady and Gypsy are both good movies but hardly unassailable. I don’t have a problem with remaking either one of them.

Based on the evidence before us I’m not inclined to assume Streisand is ego-tripping. If anything, she’s taking a risk and I would guess she’s looking for one more challenge after a storied career.

(It’s off topic, but the first two Fockers movies were decent commercial comedies, better than some of the other stuff De Niro has chosen to tax his long-suffering fans with. Haven’t seen the latest one but Streisand looks great in the clips.)

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More from the Post. (You and Laurents apparently had the same reservations, Helene.)

But everybody on Broadway knows that you can't do "Gypsy" without Laurents' blessing. And he's very particular about who plays Mama Rose and how she plays it. He was, I'm told, concerned that Streisand might be reluctant to embrace the brutality of the role.

In her drive to make her daughters stage stars, Mama Rose can turn psychotic in a flash. The real Mama Rose killed an agent by pushing him out a window.

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sidwich's comment about Minelli being a "needy" performer was what triggered my thought, although I think Streisand is different or has another flavor of it.

Normal that we'd perceive these things so differently, but I definitely don't see Streisand as a 'needy' performer like Minnelli. When she's great, as with 'Sleepin' Bee' in the early days and even in the super-rich days (as on the Millenium DVD or CD), she's really great, and sometimes she can even sell me 'Evergreen', which I basically find a repulsively mediocre song. And of course 'Don't Rain on My Parade' as good in recent years as before (I actually like that Millenium Concert quite a lot, including the opening 'Somethin's Coming' with Lauren Frost. Maybe you mean something specific, though, because if she were really needy, I think she would have wanted to perform before a live audience a lot more frequently than she has, and she sure hasn't much. She seems to me to be able to play her audience like a piano, is in total command, there's a total confidence and no 'begging'.

That Millenium Concert also early in the show had Miss Frost as the young Barbra with her own pushy stage mother (not like Mama Rose, but more than I would have imagined; I hadn't known about that). So maybe that's something to draw from. I think it's the same show in which she said 'she had a beautiful voice, my mother--very high, operatic'. I believe her mother had died by then, and had been introduced in the 1994 concert.

I don't believe in the project as an artistic venture at all. It's all about big names, a prestige thing, Big Business, or Patti Lupone is the obvious choice if they really want a good Mama Rose onscreen. She's still got the vocal chops, although I didn't know Streisand didn't till Anthony told us the voice was much lesser--because there's the 2006 concert that also sounds very strong IMO. I did wonder what she was doing with that odd appearance at the Vanguard to 'try out those songs' for that corny-titled album, 'love is the answer', or whatever it was. I have noticed, though, along the lines of what Helene is saying, that in all the concerts going back to the big first one in 1994, the touchy edge has been removed, she's not snooty to her audience at all, and is very charming with them. I have to say I have liked that, esp. since she could sell (in all 3 of them that I've heard) 'The Way We Were' and the rest--even that terrible 'Miss Marmelstein' song from 'I Can Get It For You Wholesale'. I do find it an interestingly strange adventure to hear about, though. But for it to work, she'd need to equal or outdo Merman, and I don't believe she can do that at this age. Just way too old.

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I wouldn't say "needy" applies to Streisand in any sense. She's too strong for that - "underdog, " yes, but that doesn't necessarily imply weakness or need. She can be vulnerable, but it's not the same thing.

Of course, to many observers she has seemed an unlikable steamroller, so there you go. I think Laurents was wondering if she was really willing to plumb the depths - by the time of "Rose's Turn" Rose may well be mad - will Streisand go there?

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Sondheim's discussion of the evolution of Rose's Turn is one of the most interesting parts of Finishing the Hat. According to him, "Rose's climactic breakdown was originally to be a surreal ballet," but Jerome Robbins said he was too busy to choreograph it. That meant "it would have to be a song."

I ... persuaded Jule [styne] to end the number on a high, dissonant chord of eerie violin harmonics: a woman having a nervous breakdown would not wind up on a triumphant tonic chord. In the name of purity, I killed the {big hand from the audience] in Philadelphia.
Oscar Hammerstein saw the show in Philadelphia and urged Sondheim to allow Merman to have her "big thunderous ovation."
When I protested that a big finish didn't suit the character's meltdown, he made the same point Jerry had made with the "Quintet" in West Side Story: sometimes a theatrical truth takes precedence over a logical one. If we didn't let an audience express its enthusiasm for the performer at the end of the song, he insisted, they would sit there in a distracted state, unconsciously waiting for the curtain call when they could tell Ethel how terrific she was. As a result, he argued, the audience wouldn't be (and wasn't) listening to the scene which followed, a three-minute resolution between Rose and Louise that reconciled them and made the most affecting point of the play: namely, that all children eventually become their parents.

Gently chastened, I gave up and we affixed a big ending and a tonic chord to the song, Ethel got an enormous ovation and the audience listened to the last scene in rapt silence. Lesson learned.

(Many years later, Arthur improved on Oscar's injunction and figured out a way for us to eat our cake and have it, too. He kept Rose bowing through the applause and continuing even after it died, indicating that the ovation was all in her mind.)

Given the economics of movie-making, is that kind of dramatically true, but theatrically problematic, ending something Hollywood is likely to countenance? Or will they want to see the star rewarded? thus closing the show "on a triumphant tonic chord," metaphorically speaking? And what about Streisand?

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I'm not sure she wants to be likable so much as admirable. Rose has admirable qualities, of course, but is not in the end an admirable character. Maybe Laurents, a wickedly intelligent and prickly director, could get something really unexpected and great out of Streisand if he were chosen to direct. (He did that with Tyne Daly on Broadway.) I could also imagine Scorsese doing the same.

Another aspect of the character, and perhaps a more important one as it carries us through the show without hating Rose, is the enormous charm and charisma that go hand-in-hand with the steely ambition. I can easily imagine Streisand putting that across very well.

papeetepatrick, please understand that my questions about the state of her voice are based solely on her last album; I'd otherwise more or less lost track of her singing career since "The Broadway Album," so perhaps I'm underestimating her powers.


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I'm not sure she wants to be likable so much as admirable. Rose has admirable qualities, of course, but is not in the end an admirable character. Maybe Laurents, a wickedly intelligent and prickly director, could get something really unexpected and great out of Streisand if he were chosen to direct.

A useful distinction, I think.

According to the Post Streisand is thinking about directing it herself. I'm not sure anyone would give Laurents responsibility for a big budget film. Of course, "The Mirror Has Two Faces" was quite expensive.

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papeetepatrick, please understand that my questions about the state of her voice are based solely on her last album; I'd otherwise more or less lost track of her singing career since "The Broadway Album," so perhaps I'm underestimating her powers.


Thanks, Anthony, I just put a hold on it and should have it in a few days, will report back. I imagine that was quite enough to judge on, though, but I'll make sure. In those concerts, everything is enhanced since they are always huge halls, and they have been as far back as the Madison Square Garden. And even so, it was still the unique power of the voice that was apparent: She was NOT like an opera singer in the sense that her voice was kept 'in perfect tune' from practising and regular performing. Most of the sound still was there on the 2006 CD, but the pitch is off more than it used to be even in 2000, and that's because she is not interested in it in a single-minded way, has a lot of other interests, and mostly does those concerts for the money. There's a limit to which I can admire her compared to other great pop and jazz singers, although admittedly her talent is unique--it's just not necessarily 'the greatest', and I think she has been heavily hyped from the beginning (not that the extraordinary potency wasn't there, of course it was). But if there's an obvious difference on the recorded object from what there was on the Broadway Album, that does mean that even with the studio enhancements, the voice has thinned.

I hope she does direct, that's the only way this spectacle will have the full Norma Desmond Effect it surely deserves IF we can get confidential reports of the inevitable backstage world wars.

I hadn't known Mama Rose had sent an agent to his reward by shoving him out the window. I guess that's after the party she attends with 'her daughter GYPSY'. Oh well, if Mama Rose is 'lovable', she is also more of a 'monster' than I knew--she's a homicidal maniac! Did she get jail time? What a horrible person--only Baby June Havoc really did well after all in this dysfunctional family, and she was furious at the made-up stuff and inaccurate portrayal of her by both Gypsy and the show. I recently saw an old 1950's Danny Thomas 'All-Star Revue' on VHS, with a bunch of comedy skits with Havoc and Eleanor Powell, and her early vaudeville technique and timing skills were fully intact as a mature woman--impeccable, as pro as possible. The stripper's main contribution is the musical about the mother IMO. I did see Gypsy in 'Belle of the Yukon' with Randolph Scott, and she is not a great screen presence, to put it mildly.

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Gypsy Rose Lee also shows up in a fascinating film called "Screaming Mimi" with Anita Ekberg. It really resembles the kind of exploitation sex and horror trash Mario Bava and Jesus Franco put out in the 1960's but it is a fifties Hollywood thriller. Ekberg plays a "nightclub dancer" who does an "artistic" dance number with chains!. (Everything is as thinly disguised and covered over as Ms. Ekberg's astonishing physique - strippers were verboten). There is all sorts of kink going on beneath a paper thin Hollywood veneer of respectability. Anyway, the middle-aged Gypsy Rose Lee shows up as the nightclub owner and does a version of "Put the Blame on Mame" shaking her fringed dress. She seems to have a very close relationship with the club's cigarette girl who she aggressively protects from male attention.

Gypsy Rose Lee displays a very idiosyncratic screen personality and delivery in this film - she combines the heartiness of Lee Patrick with the sardonic humor of Eve Arden with an offbeat sexiness all her own. Obviously she can only play a variation of herself but that personality is rather unique. I think her dismissal of her talents was unjust.

No commentary on the Midler version? It had a script that was more faithful to the stage original than the Russell movie. I thought the direction wasn't bad. Midler was game but there were major pieces missing in her characterization and singing.

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Arthur Laurents changes his mind.

But now Laurents says the film version is not going to happen "for a really fascinating reason, much bigger than 'Gypsy.' "

He recently spoke with the musical's lyricist, Stephen Sondheim, who asked Laurents why he wanted to allow the film project to happen. "He said, 'What is the point of it?' And I said, 'They have this terrible version with Rosalind Russell wearing those black and white shoes.' And then Sondheim told me something that he got from the British -- and it's wonderful. He said, 'You want a record because the theater is ephemeral. But that's wrong. The theater's greatest essence is that it is ephemeral. You don't need a record. The fact that it's ephemeral means you can have different productions, different Roses on into infinity.'

I had mixed feelings about this project, but what a silly reason for not doing a remake – as if a better film of the show would somehow obviate future revivals. Laurents is either a)losing it; b) has another reason he doesn’t want to divulge publicly; c) has no particular reason and is just having a bit of fun with Streisand and the rest of us, especially since he was the one who told the press in the first place; or d) a bit of all three.

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Thanks for posting that, richard53dog. Guess Laurents changed his mind again.

Sounds like he was busy right to the end:

In the month before his death, on May 5, the Tony Award-winning writer and director Arthur Laurents gave his blessing to a plan for a new film version of “Gypsy,” starring Barbra Streisand, and also finished a full-length play as well as his third memoir, Laurents’s agent and several associates said this week.
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Thanks for the update, Anthony_NYC. Well, they better do it soon, lest it be necessary to rename the protagonist Grandmama Rose.

Perhaps in the Fellowes version Rose and her daughters will be driven onto the vaudeville circuit because the family seat, Eggroll House, is entailed??

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