Streisand, VH1 Going Into Business on Weekly Series
Forget the Oscars, the Spirit Awards, whatever. Here's the big news out of Hollywood this weekend. Barbra Streisand is about to go into business with VH1. She and husband James Brolin told me exclusively at Miramax's pre-Oscar party that they are planning to produce a weekly dramatic series for the music cable channel. The subject? The cut-throat music business. Brolin will star in the series. His character is modeled on two record company legends whom Streisand has known very well during her nearly forty years with Columbia Records: former presidents Clive Davis and Walter Yetnikoff.
"I'm going to be executive producer," Streisand told me before the Miramax players put on their annual skit show. Brolin, who was right in step with her, told me that his syndicated Pensacola: Wings of Gold series has come to an end and that this new show will be his next project. "We're in a third and final rewrite of a pilot, and then we wait for approval," he said.
Of course, VH1 and its sister MTV have dabbled in all sorts of half hour programming, game shows, reality TV and quasi-documentaries, but a weekly hour-long show would be a first for them — and a direct approach to competing with HBO programs like The Sopranos.
Streisand and Brolin made quite a splash on Saturday night, starting with the Miramax party and winding up at USA Films' smallish dinner at Chadwick's. Observers there said that La Streisand sat on Brolin's lap during the dinner, "straddling him," was the way it was described. Look, these darn kids are in love.
I asked Streisand what her plans are now that she's retired from touring. "I'm lazy," she said very bluntly. "I would do a movie if the right thing came along. And not just necessarily one that I would direct. Claude Lelouche just offered me his next film. I'm thinking about it."
She has no plans to make a new record right now either, she said.
Streisand, by the way, is still a vociferous supporter of the Democratic Party, of Al Gore and Bill Clinton. She has not wavered one bit, even with the pardon revelations and the lost election. "And who did those pardons hurt, I ask you?" she said rhetorically. "No one!"
Meanwhile, Brolin told me that his appearance in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic was entirely a fluke. "He just called me up and asked me to do it," he said. "I was thrilled."
There was one other subject I covered with Brolin and Streisand before they settled into their table at the Beverly Wilshire with Talk magazine editor Tina Brown. The whole business of the American Film Institute tribute to Streisand, which I reported on last month. I asked Barbra if she had indeed been taken by surprise by the arranged speakers.
"Definitely," she insisted. "I had nothing to do with it. That's why I was hugging everyone as I made my way into the room. I couldn't believe they were there."
And what of the Streisand-esque decorations? "The wife of the show's producer, Gary Smith, has been a friend of mine for years. She knows my taste. I didn't know what she was doing in advance."
Meeting Streisand and Brolin — and having this fairly in depth talk — was, I will admit, a bit daunting. Barbra is not known for making public appearances. But I have to say she was extremely charming, direct, and poised. And articulate. There's a reason she's had so much influence on politics in the Hollywood community. Unlike many other stars, she knows what she's talking about. That quality should come in handy with the VH1 show.
After all the Oscar parties had come and gone, Miramax's Harvey Weinstein threw his famous annual after-party on Tuesday morning. As usual, breakfast was served, and over the course of three hours, celebrities and friends stopped by the Veranda Room at the Peninsula Hotel to say hello and eat some delicious French toast. Foxy actress Rosanna Arquette deejayed the event — and she did a great job, mixing rock and soul favorites with punk anthems like the B-52's "Dance this Mess Around." Brava, Rosanna!
Among the guests who lounged around casually were Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro, who showed off his prize and generally celebrated with Traffic producer Laura Bickford (who's quite the stunner, by the way) as well as Chloe Sevigny, Famke Janssen, Vince Vaughn, Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran, Ben Foster, Jay Roach and wife Susanna Hoffs, Mike Myers and wife Robin, Mira Sorvino — very fetching with long blonde tresses, Chocolat writer Robert Nelson Jacobs, and Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe. Not bad, huh? Miramax is still the final destination on Oscar night.
Vanity Fair magazine so over-packed its annual party at Morton's restaurant that the widow of a famous director got snubbed in the process.
Word from the party is that Mrs. Stanley Kramer, whose husband recently passed away, showed up with her daughter Catherine as her escort. She was immediately told she was on the list solo, reports my source, and was ordered to send her daughter home.
Kramer, whose credits include such classics as Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, On the Beach, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and Inherit the Wind, died in February at age 87.
According to a source, Mrs. Karen Kramer was allowed into Morton's so she could locate editor-in-chief and Hollywood cheerleader Graydon Carter. When she did, my source tells me, "Carter told her he'd find someone to help her, then disappeared." Mrs. Kramer finally gave up and left with her daughter in disgust.
Meanwhile, Sean "Puffy" Combs, Denise Rich, and Monica Lewinsky partied away with entourages and bodyguards at their sides.
It truly is a mad, mad, world, isn't it?