Barbra Streisand's movie version of Gypsy is back in limbo after STX Entertainment announced August 3 that it was withdrawing as distributor and co-financier of the film.
The announcement came on a day that should have been a celebration for Streisand, having kicked off her national concert tour in Los Angeles the previous night.
This is the second time a studio had walked away from Gypsy, which would have Streisand playing Rose, mother of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, in a screen adaptation of the Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim/Arthur Laurents musical classic. Universal, which had been developing the project, gave it a pass in fall 2015. STX picked it up this past spring.
Barry Levinson had been scheduled to direct. Deadline.com reported that STX withdrew after a co-financier exited. The website named financier Leonard Blavatnik as having changed his mind about putting up some one-third of the $50 million-plus budget.
Deadline speculated that Streisand, Levinson and producer Joel Silver will not give up but will try to find another studio for the project.
The announcement came just weeks after Richard LaGravenese, who was adapting the film script with Streisand, shared details on the planned film remake, which had been scheduled to start shooting in spring 2017, “won’t be the theatrical Gypsy” audiences know.
“The difficult problem [with Gypsy] is making it cinematic,” LaGravenese told Playbill.com at the July 14 New York Musical Festival press event promoting this year’s shows, including his NYMF directorial debut with Touché (by Randy Redd and Blair Ross). “That’s the nut to crack. Coming up with a concept that helps to make it cinematic. For instance, you have ‘Some [People],’ which is this gigantic song which she sings in a kitchen, so how do you make that [cinematic]? These are the things that we worked on, making things more visual.
“Barry Levinson is directing, and he came on with a concept. It’s hard to describe without giving it away. He came up with a cinematic concept that I think works, but it means that things have to be changed a little bit. People have to embrace the fact that it won’t be the theatrical Gypsy—it will be the film Gypsy. But all the songs are there.”
LaGravenese previously collaborated with Streisand on The Mirror Has Two Faces. He also directed the screen adaptation of Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years, starring Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick, which received mostly positive marks. Read Playbill.com’s recap of the film here.
In a 2012 interview with Time magazine, Streisand said she was considering casting Lady Gaga in the role of Louise. Since that time the Grammy Award-winning performer won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Limited TV Series for her role on American Horror Story: Hotel. She and Streisand have also met on several occasions. Streisand also recently revealed that she interviewed Daisy Ridley (Star Wars) for the Gypsy film. They performed together (along with Anne Hathaway) on the Chorus Line trio “At the Ballet” for Streisand's upcoming Broadway album.
Additional reports have also stated that Grease and Saturday Night Fever star John Travolta may be on board to co-star as Herbie. “Well, yeah, I mean Barbra [has been] wanting to do Gypsy for years, and she’s been developing it, and I think she always visualized Gaga as Louise and maybe me as Herbie,” Travolta told Extra in an earlier interview.
Gypsy features a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Based on the autobiography of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, the musical focuses on her relationship with her mother, Rose Hovik, who shepherded her through the world of vaudeville when she was a child, always treating her as second-best to her sister, June.
Originally written for Broadway diva Ethel Merman, Gypsy was filmed in 1962 with Rosalind Russell in the role. It was remade for television in 1993 starring Bette Midler.
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