In the world of film, it often takes years for a movie to get from script to screen, while even more are put into development and never get turned into a movie. For many years, Barbra Streisand was attached to direct an adaptation of Larry Kramer’s award-winning play, The Normal Heart, about the early days of the AIDS crisis. However it never actually got in front of the camera.
However rather than resigning himself to this fact, Kramer has decided to reinstigate a war of words with Streisand over the that fact she couldn’t get the film up and running, comparing it to Glee creator Ryan Murphy, who’s now planning to turn Normal Heart into a movie. He decided to write a response after he sent positive notices for the current tour of the play, and she replied, “Why make me sad that I’m not directing your wonderful play??”
Kramer has written a public letter to Streisand, published by the New York Post, saying ‘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 . 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.).
‘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.’
Barbra has since responded on her website, saying ‘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 says she tried very hard to get it made and even took the project to HBO, which offered Kramer $250,000, but he would not agree to anything less than $1 million. She also says that she often worked on it for free (even when she no longer had the rights) and at one point lined up Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo and Bradley Cooper to star.
‘I think it’s unfair to keep blaming me for the movie not getting made,’ she 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.’
To be honest, the whole thing is a bit unseemly, and quite why Kramer decided to take it public (especially as the whole thing doesn’t reflect entirely positively on him) is anyone’s guess, especially now that things are going ahead and it finally looks like he’s getting his movie made.
Assuming Murphy’s film version goes ahead as planned, it will star Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Julia Roberts, Alec Baldwin and Mark Ruffalo.