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Barbra's Film Canceled

Barbra's Film Canceled

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Barbra Streisand's hotly anticipated return to film musicals as Mama Rose in Gypsy is not going to happen, according to an interview with Arthur Laurents in the Hartford Courant.

Laurents, an accomplished playwright, director, screenwriter who wrote the book for the legendary 1959 musical says the reason for the cancellation is due to an epiphany from the show's lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

In the interview Laurents says, "A few years ago, she called me. It was a Sunday and I have an enormous breakfast on Sunday. I wait the whole week for that breakfast. She would call from time to time when she wanted advice. So she called to ask me if she should do the movie of Sunset Boulevard. I said, 'Listen, Barbra, I'm having breakfast. Can I call you back?' She said, 'Do you have my number?' I said, 'I've always had your number.'

"So I called her back and said, 'Barbra, I've changed.' And she said, 'Since Tom died?' I said, 'Yes. I don't have patience with people who don't say what they mean. You didn't call about Sunset Boulevard. She said, 'No, I didn't. I called about Gypsy. Do you think I can do it?' I said, 'No.' She said, 'Too old?' I said, 'It has nothing to do with age. You play for sympathy.

"So we started a conversation and she started to talk about her mother. The conversation went on for three hours. At one point she said, 'I have to pee. I'll call you back.' And she called me back and told me more about her mother -- who was worse than Rose. I said, 'If you can do that...' That's when I believed she could do it."

Laurents says that Sondheim asked why he wants another film version, following the 1962 film starring Rosalind Russell and the 1993 television version with Bette Midler.

"They have this terrible version with Rosalind Russell wearing those black and white shoes." Laurents answers. "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.'

"So I don't want it now. I don't want a definitive record. I want it to stay alive.

"I think [Streisand] is disappointed. She wanted very much to do it. That would have been a good exit for her career. Tom Hooper [The King's Speech] wanted to direct it. I think he's wonderful."

Asked how he thinks 68-year-old Streisand would have fared in the film, Laurents answers simply, "She could have done it."

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