Barbra Streisand said Thursday that she would be making her final statement in her long-running war of words with playwright Larry Kramer over turning his play The Normal Heart into a feature film.
Kramer re-opened the feud this week by making public a recent email exchange between he and Streisand. He had sent her favorable reviews of the production of the Tony Award-winning play which just opened in Washington DC. and she replied with an email which said: ‘Why make me sad that I’m not directing your wonderful play?’
Kramer responded with a public letter blasting Streisand for not being able to get the film made and pointing out that Glee creator Ryan Murphy has managed to lined up an all-star cast to finally get it done.
‘Dear Barbra . . . My fellow warrior against good and evil, all those many years you could have directed it — what happened to all that time? When your options lapsed, I said you could buy it for a million dollars and do whatever you wanted with it .’ Kramer wrote in a letter published by the New York Post. ‘You kept telling me I wanted too much money. I kept telling you this is my only asset to sell and live on for the rest of my life. (AIDS activists don’t make much money.) You couldn’t tell me what you didn’t like about my screenplays. (God knows I wrote enough drafts for you.).
He added: ‘Ryan has wonderful ideas that jell and enhance my work. You said you couldn’t get financing. He has his financing. He said if he couldn’t get it, he’d finance it himself. (You chose to remodel and redecorate your houses.) This is a man whose driving passion to make this movie is extraordinary.’
Streisand, director of Yentl, The Prince of Tides and The Mirror Has Two Faces, has responded with a lengthy letter of her own posted on her website.
‘Larry Kramer does not need me to publicize his beautiful play. It stands on its own. For the last time – I will answer his complaints, which rewrite history.’
Streisand writes that she ‘worked very hard to get the film made’ and when it became clear that she could not raise the money, she took the project to HBO which offered Kramer $250,000. She said he would not agree to anything less than $1 million.
She said that even after the rights reverted back to Kramer 15 years ago, she still worked – without pay – on getting the movie made and said Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo and Bradley Cooper had agreed to participate based on an adaptation of Kramer’s script that Streisand said she had done to make the play more ‘cinematic.’
‘I think it’s unfair to keep blaming me for the movie not getting made,’ Streisand writes. ‘I worked on it for 25 years, without pay. Larry had the rights for the last 15 years and he couldn’t get it made either. Those are the facts, and none of this is news to Larry.
‘More recently, he sent me a note before giving the project to another director, asking me again if I wanted to direct it — but only with his screenplay. As a filmmaker, I couldn’t have my hands tied like that. What if I needed changes? Sadly, I turned his offer down and wished him well.’