Barbra Streisand will produce but not star in the upcoming three-hour TV musical, "Mame," crushing the hopes of Streisand fans who yearn to see her sing in character again.
Hollywood sources confirmed to Playbill On-Line the accuracy of an item in the Aug. 24 Variety about Streisand telling ABC she was not planning to act in, but will still produce, the TV version of the 1966 Jerry Herman musical.
From the beginning, the casting of Brooklyn-born Streisand in the WASP-y, Beekman Place role of Mame Dennis Burnside (first known from the book, play and film, "Auntie Mame") seemed like wishful thinking and speculation; Streisand is focused on directing and producing these days. Producers at Storyline Entertainment (Craig Zadan and Neil Meron) and Barwood Films (Streisand and Cis Corman) never said Streisand would be doing it, but seemed content to let buzz fuel interest in the project.
Streisand, of course, is known for Funny Girl on stage and screen, and swayed on a staircase (as Mame does) as the title character in the film version of "Hello, Dolly!"
Peter Tolan has be signed to write the teleplay. He will base his work on the original libretto by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Lee, Variety said. The project is expected to be broadcast during the 2001-2002 season, not 2000-2001 as previously reported. Also on the plate of Storyline Entertainment are small-screen versions of Fiddler on the Roof and The Music Man.
The 1974 movie version of "Mame" starring Lucille Ball was directed by Gene Saks through filtered lenses that made Ball seem ageless and somewhat hazy. Not in good voice, the comic actress disappointed fans of the score who hoped to hear "If He Walked Into My Life," "Bosom Buddies," "Open a New Window" and "It's Today" belted with more confidence.
Robert Preston starred as Beau, Bruce Davison was the adult Patrick and Beatrice Arthur recreated her Tony Award-winning stage role as Vera Charles. It was Ball's last theatrical film.
Angela Lansbury won a Tony Award in 1966 for Mame. She revived the role in the early 1980s, but the Broadway run was short-lived.
-- By Kenneth Jones