Liz Smith: Will Everything Finally “Come Up Roses” For Barbra Streisand’s “Gypsy”?

Will Everything Finally “Come Up Roses” For Barbra Streisand’s “Gypsy”?… Madonna’s “Rebel Heart” Tour Begins — And the Money Keeps Rolling In!

Liz Smith: Will Everything Finally "Come Up Roses" For Barbra Streisand's "Gypsy"?, the three tomatoes“WHEN A population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined by a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk — culture-death is a clear possibility.”

This is from Neil Postman’s 1986 book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.”


The above quote was used within Rob Stein’s Huffington Post article, “Electoral Anarchy.” It examines the inherent dangers of the current carnival barker shenanigans of the Republican Party’s presidential candidates, how such carrying on will, in time, seep into the Democratic Party, and what it means for us — the hapless victims of craven politicians, inexperienced brain surgeons, egomaniacal businessmen or fired CEOs who want to rule America.

Rob Stein is right on the money, and he has written an important article that both sides should carefully consider.

IF YOU thought that the long a’ borning Barbra Streisand version of “Gypsy” was finally a closed subject, think again. Streisand’s hubby, James Brolin gave an interview the other day and among other things, spoke of his wife’s dream project: “I don’t know if it’s green-lit yet, but it is very close. It’s got to happen!”

Streisand has been talking “Gypsy” for years, much in the manner of her old “Yentl” days. Nobody ever thought that would come to fruition, and it was a far less commercial endeavor than the classic Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim/Arthur Laurents classic about ecdysiast Gypsy Rose Lee and her monumental mama, Rose.

BARBRA would play Rose, natch. Although a vibrant 73, she would be the most mature woman to ever attempt the role. Barbra looks great, but the audience knows how old she is, and that might be a problem. (When she played a deluxe hooker in “Nuts” — probably her best dramatic performance — audiences knew she was in her late forties and rejected the concept. That movie, and Barbra, come across much better now.)

Still, this is something Barbra wants, and there has been little in her life, professionally or personally, that this fabulous woman hasn’t gotten.

Julian Fellowes of “Downton Abbey” fame has tinkered with the Arthur Laurents book, and director Richard LaGravenese has also been attached to the project. Although (big surprise!) Streisand has supposedly expressed interest in directing the movie, too. All I can say is if “Gypsy” is gonna happen, it better happen … while I’m typing this!

And yes, the rumor that Lady Gaga will play Gypsy, is a rumor that is still alive and bumping — with a trumpet!


SORRY! IN writing about “The Man From U.N.C.L.E” the other day, I forgot to mention the director, Guy Ritchie. While I watched the movie, I thought there was something familiar about the “out-there” style. I’ve seen most of his films. Some are great, some are fascinatingly incomprehensible. I recall sitting through a number of versions of “Revolver,” by request of Guy’s then-wife Madonna, who was nothing if not supportive. And frankly, I never did quite understand what the hell was going on in “Revolver.” But it was fun trying to figure it out.


Speaking of the one-time couple, a friend of mine gave me a copy of Ritchie’s 2002 movie “Swept Away,” starring Madonna, as ” a joke.” This re-make of Lina Wertmuller’s 1974 movie about a privileged woman shipwrecked with her now-empowered deckhand, was a terrible flop. (I don’t know that Lina’s original was screaming for a remake, actually.) I saw the Ritchie/Madonna version when it opened. I thought it wasn’t nearly as bad as critics said, although it wasn’t good. It seemed to me like a Lifetime Movie for TV, with Madonna, as usual, stiff one moment, charming the next. (She is best in supporting roles. For some reason, the burden of carrying a film seems to overwhelm her. Maybe if her music career hadn’t been so successful, she would have devoted more time to acting — most of her best performances are in her classic music videos, using her expressive face.)

Ritchie photographed her horribly in “Swept Away,” and I had to wonder, what he was really trying to say with this tale of a wealthy and famous woman brought low? He had previously directed her in a short, about a spoiled star being abused, and also one of her music videos, “What It Feels Like for a Girl,” in which she — again — plays an abused woman.

It reminded me — rather sadly — of Richard Burton directing Elizabeth in “Dr. Faustus.” Elizabeth never realized what Burton was conveying in the final scene, as Taylor drags him — as Faustus — down to hell. By then, he was tired of that roller-coaster Life With Liz, but it was too late, and too profitable, to jump off.

Madonna and Guy were a good match for a while, and I know she was deeply in love with him. In any case, “Swept Away” is a fascinating, if not a brilliant, peek into public people working out personal issues through their work. That’s how I see it, at least.

P.S. Today, in Montreal, Madonna kicks off her “Rebel Heart” tour. Those who have seen the show in rehearsal say it is her greatest yet, simply magnificent. But don’t tell her that. She is never satisfied. Once she is done with an album, a movie, a concert tour, a man she’s done. But while she’s working on something, she is constantly tinkering, re-doing, re-playing, re-thinking. And when it’s over, it’s over. No complaining or explaining. The present and the future exist for Madonna. The past holds no interest. Nostalgia is just a nine-letter word.

Good luck, tonight, honey!

Read Liz Smith daily at the New York Social Diary.

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