- Jean Seberg, St. Joan, 1957. Producer-director Otto Preminger could hardly be expected to remember any of the reputed 18,000girls he auditioned around the world. Or, not until a woman upbraided him. "My daughter auditioned and you did not give her the part. You - afamous director! You didn't recognise talent when you saw it."His response to Streisand's mother was: "You should be grateful. Compare her career to Seberg's - it might have ruined her."
- Laurie Peters, Summer Holiday, 1963.
Streisand and Cliff Richard...! Hard to believe but US choreographer Herbert Ross suggested a certain Broadway chorus girl would be perfect to co-star for the BritishElvis wannabe. "The producer saw her," recalls Cliff, "but said she wasn't right for the part"- of a teenage singer, running away disguised as a boy. (Shades of Yentl). Ross directed Streisand in his second movie, The Owl and the Pussycat, 1970, and the Elstree musical's helmer, Peter Yates, made For Pete's Sake withher in 1974. Lauri Peters becamethe first Mrs Jon Voight, 1962-1967. And Cliff was knighted by Queen Eliszabeth II in 1995.
- Jane Fonda, They Shoot Horses Don't They? 1969. Set in the cruelly exploitive dance marathons of the 1920s and early 1930s, when couples “danced ” non-stop for aa long as 1,000 hours - just for food and money. They danced until they dropped or died. (Reminiscent of a 70s’ LA disco called Dance Ya Ass Off.) La Barb and Julie Christie passed on the sharp-tongued Gloria Beatty… ironically, Warren Beatty was in the frame for her partner, Michael Sarrazin’s Robert Syverton. La Barb had won Funny Girl on Broadway when Carol Burnett and Mary Martin refused it. So did Anne Bancroft: "I don't want to be called Fanny on-stage!"
- Dyan Cannon, Such Good Friends, 1971. Another Otto Preminger turn-down. "Author Lois Gold and I discussed her. A very good actress and singer but too strong and too sharply Jewish for this lady. Cannon was right: a very insecure, very troubled woman."
- Jane Fonda, Klute, 1970. La Barb passed on Bree Daniels. (She already been a hooker the year before in The Owl and the Pussycat ). So it was Fonda who spent a week hanging out with real callgirls and pimps for research. Miffed that none of the pimps offered to represent her, Fonda felt undesirable and told director Alan J Pakula to get Faye Dunaway.. Fonda said Faye Dunaway would be a more desirable hooker. And the Oscar goes to...
- Barbara Harris, Plaza Suite, 1970. On Broadway, George C Scott and Maureen Stapleton starred in all three Neil Simon mini-plays. Paramount wanted six stars: Scott & Stapleton (repeating the first of their triples), Peter Sellers & Baraba Streisand, Walter Matthau & Lucille Ball. Then, Matthau insisted on playing the three guys - with Lee Grant, Barbara Harris and Stapleton. Simon didn’t like the cast, nor the picture. “Walter was wrong to play all three parts. That's a trick Peter Sellers can do. I would only have used Walter in the last sequence and, probably, Lee Grant.”
- Jennifer O'Neill, Summer of '42, 1971. "At the last moment," producer Fred Weintraub told me in Yugoslavia, "there was a hurried rush because they had nobody for the lead - and they tried to get Streisand. She turned it down."
- Liza Minnelli, Cabaret, 1972. Refused long before director Bob Fosse came aboard. She preferred Up In The Sandbox. Go figure. And the Oscar goes to...
- Marsha Mason, Cinderella Liberty, 1973. La Barb was the studio's choice. Marsha won her first Oscar nod.
- Ellen Burstyn, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, 1974. “I was too young.”And besides, she said, who on earth would believe her as a failed saloonsinger...Well, that would depend onhow well she playedit.Anne Bancroft also ”nibbled.” And the Oscar goes to...
Jessica Lange, King Kong, 1976. "That was Jon Peters' idea - en erotic Kong. And I thought: Yeah Like...No Leading Man Big Enough! Isn't thatfunny?" Not as much as the legend about Peters having dinner with Kong producer Dino De Laurentiis while Streisand was making Funny Lady. "Your movie will do much better," said De Laurentiis. "Your monkey sings."
- Glenda Jackson, The Incredible Sarah, 1976. The 1972 plan of bravura UK director Ken Russell's. La Barb was keen.Of course, she was. She had a Bernhardt bust, sculpted by Bernhardt in her Beverly Hills home, plus three Mucha posters of Bernhardt plays: Camille, Hamlet, Medea. "Three roles I've always longed toplay, especially Medea." But Russell's script allegedly had a man making love to the divinely dead Sarah in her coffin... with her wooden leg sticking out.That's pure Ken Russell!
- Jane Fonda, Julia, 1977. La Barb said she refused films because living her life or romances were more important. After passing her They Shoot Horses, Klute and now Julia, La Barbn boasted: “I made Jane Fonda’s career.” Codswallop! Well, she can say it, but it ain’t true. Fonda had already started wining awards, Golden Globes, etc, for Cat Ballou, in 1965 (three years before Streisand’s Funny Girl). And what followed - Sunday In New York, Any Wednesday, Hurry Sundown, Barefoot in the Park, Barbarella - were not exactly screen tests.
- Sondra Locke, The Gauntlet, 1977. Warners saw it as a great idea for Clint ’n’ Barb. As a dumb cop and foul-mouthed Vegas hooker. He didn’t.“And,” reportedLocke, “Clint had willed the whole situation away.”Because he aimed to trade one-linerswith Locke (his new lover, in the secondof theirsix films).“For two cents and a stick of gum, I’d beat the shit out of you.” - “Whatever getsyou off,Butch.”
- Jane Fonda, Coming Home, 1978. She didn't want to have to sing all the time... "I am simple, complex, generous, selfish, unattractive, beautiful, lazy, and driven.".
- Faye Dunaway, The Eyes of Laura Mars, 1978. One of the all-time great posters. The film not so much. Originally set asphotographer Laura, Faye had something La Barb did not - a photographer lover soonto be her husband, Terry O’Neill. The theme song, Prisoner, is not bad - the only song that Streisand sings in a movie she does not appear in.
- Margot Kidder, Superman, 1978,
- Gena Rowlands, Gloria, 1980. Columbia insisted on Barbra but she was still mad at writer-director John Cassavetes forrefusingto be her director for hire on A Star Is Born, 1976.Anyway, she reasoned, who would believein her as a Mafia doll.Gena loved Gloria; John who created her, did not.
- Vanessa Redgrave, Playing For Time, TV, 1980. La Barb resembled the real Fania Fenelon much more than Redgrave - yet still walked away. She had no wish to make a tele-movie.
- Geraldine Chaplin, Les uns et les autres, France, 1980. For another of Claude Lelouch’s over-blown (as many stars as cliches), James Caan persuaded La Barb to talk about the double role of Suzanne and Sara Glenn. “She was most enthusiastic,” reported the realisateur. Her agents were not: $4m for four weeks. Shevisited the shooting in Paris. For free.Bless her heart!
- John Belushi, Continental Divide, 1981.
Steven Spielberg adored the Tracy/Hepburn unlikely romcoms. Now he’d found his own. Except he chickened out when he couldn’t unearth a new Spence/Kate. He remained producer and thought the no-nonsense journo hero (based on Chicago Sun Times columnist Mike Royko) was perfect for… Robert De Niro, Richard Dreyfuss, Peter Falk, Dustin Hoffman. Plus George Segal, who showed it to his California Split co-star, Elliott Gould, who showed it to his wife and… La Barb immediately wanted to switch roles and be the journo opposite Robert Redford as the bald eagle researcher! Which is about when Belushi, the ruination of Spielberg’s 1941, decided he could go straight. Spielberg believed him. And stuck him on poor UK director Michael Apted. Gigantic error! (Barbra and Redford reminds me that Billy Wilder always said a guaranteed hit needed: a love story between Paul Newman and Robert Redford on a Boeing on fire flown by… Barbra).
- Cher, Mask, 1985. Seeking an A-list biker mom, the studio told director Peter Bogdanovich to hook up again with his 1972 What’s Up Doc? Star... or Jane Fonda. “No one,” he said, “thought of Cher for the part except me.” Not so... Scenarist Anna Hamilton Phelan hadpinned a photo of the chanteuseto the scriptshehanded into Bogdanovich.
Bette Midler, Big Business, 1988. Barbra and Goldie Hawn meet Shakespeare! The two sets of twin sisters in this update ofComedy Of Errors were penned for La Barb and Goldie. That they didn’t accept them is best explained in Chicago critic RogerEbert’s review: “This ought to have inspired a funny movie, but instead... it inspires... an endless and dreary series of scenes in which the various twins just barely miss running into each other.” Bette made it with Lily Tomlin. Midler's previoustitle stemmed fromHamlet, Act 3, Scene 1, line 58, ... Outrageous Fortune.
- Farrah Fawcett, Margaret Bourke-White, TV, 1989. Her epic project about the Life magazine photographer (played by Candice Bergen in Gandhi) finally became a tele-movie - directed by another famed photographer, Lawrence Schiller. "Out of focus," said Variety. Of course.
- Madonna, Evita, 1996. Way back in 1979, producer Robert Stigwood agreed to her terms:Not Argentina, just $3m, plus $1m for the album - and points. When director Oliver Stone introduced Madonna to Andrew Lloyd Webber, she said in her brassy way that she was a composer, too, and wanted to work on the music, first - change some of the songs a bit. "Webber sat there," said Stone, "not really believing it."
- Barbara Hershey, Portrait Of A Lady, 1996. Australian director Jane Campion called - as if La Barb believed another woman director existed!
- Kathy Bates, Titanic, 1996.
- Marcia Gay Harden, Pollock, 2000. Ed Harris prepared to play the alcoholic, manic-depressive painter Jackson Pollock for 15 years - and pouncedas soonas co-stars De Niro and La Barb let it go. And quickly called Marcia to be his wife, Lee Krasner.
- Eartha Kitt, The Emperor’s New Grooves, 2000. The much troubled Disney toon started out as Kingdom of the Sun, with much the same cast and characters. From the outset, Lion King director Roger Allers wanted La Barb as Yzma, described in the script as an aged royal sorceress.Yzma, She did not appreciate the appreciate the adjective.
- Patricia Kaas, And Now...Ladies & Gentlemen, France-UK, 2002. French film-maker Claude Lelouch who never learns from experience (hence his string of lookalike lovers, wives and movies) asked for La Barb again - to co-star with Dustin Hoffman, who finally turned into Jeremy Irons. Then, he realised to have Streisand as a singer in a bar, well “people would mock me.” Just as the silly movie mocked him. Unknowingly, bien sur.
- Nicole Kidman, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, 2006. Eight years after MGM and Lorimar did little else but talk about it, Streisand took an option on Patricia Bosworth's bio. After failing to interest Jonathan Demme, Mike Nichols or Martin Scorsese, she fled in 1997.
- Annette Bening, The Women, 2007. After 15 years trying to make her version of MGM’s 1938 magic, the fizz had left the bubbly for the TV Murphy Brown creator Diane English. Few among her cast(s) could match the 30s ladies. La Barb would have had more fire than Bening in Rosalind Russell’s Sylvia.
- Eva Mendes, The Women, 2007. Uma might have cut it, but Eva was no Crawford.
- Julia Roberts, The Normal Heart, 2013.
In the year of another comeback (the misfiring Guilt Trip with Seth Rogen, 2012, and singing at the Oscars), La Barb’s 38-year-old pet project was rescued by HBO - due to Glee creator Ryan Murphy and Plan B’s Brad Pitt. Kramer complained he’d be dead before she did it – nothing, of course, to do with his imperious restrictions: $1m for his script which must be used without changes. “I couldn’t get any studio to commit to his version [HBO only offered $250,000 in the 90s]. Many fine actors [including Bradley Cooper] were ready to commit to our version but Larry would not allow it.” He even accused Streisand of making Emma the most important role, when she only offered to play her, as well as helming, “if that would help get it made.” John Schlesinger took it over... and he did die before he could make it. Kramer, himself, couldn’t give it away over the next decade, until Ryan Murphy talked HBO into a deal… and worked with Kramer on the script for three years on “40/45% new material… similar to the play and very different.” As Barbra always wanted. Plus starring Mark Ruffalo, her own choice for Ned Weeks, based on Kramer, and his tireless AIDS activism.