The eagerly anticipated project to re-film the musical “Gypsy” with Barbra Streisand as Mama Rose has been aborted. The playwright and director Arthur Laurents, one of the rights holders to the work, talked very openly to the Hartford Courant: at 93 you can say want you want.
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 change.’ 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.”
So what happened to change his mind? A conversation with Stephen Sondheim!
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.’
“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.
I don’t think that only Streisand will be disappointed…
via Streisand/”Gypsy” Film Project a No-Go, Says Arthur Laurents – Behind the Curtain | Frank Rizzo