GYPSY [in development]
This page is all about Barbra Streisand's planned big-screen remake of the musical Gypsy.
- Directed by: Barry Levinson
- Screenplay by:
Julian FellowesRichard LaGravenese
- Book by: Arthur Laurents
- Produced by: Joel Silver, Barbra Streisand
- Music by: Jule Styne
- Lyrics by: Stephen Sondheim
- Barbra Streisand ... Rose
- TBA ... Herbie
- TBA ... Louise
- TBA ... June
“Gypsy” ... In the Beginning
Gypsy was a Broadway musical (1959) with tunes by Jules Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents. It originally starred Ethel Merman (pictured above, right) as Rose.
The Advocate provided a great summation of the plot:
One of the great backstage musicals, Gypsy is based loosely on the memoirs of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, but the focal character is really her ambitious and often frustrated single mother. Mama Rose drags her daughters, Louise and June, to any gig they can get, even as vaudeville is dying in the 1920s. June, first as Baby June and then the adolescent Dainty June, is the star attraction, but when she goes off on her own (she eventually became a noted actress under the name June Havoc), Rose puts Louise out front. As Gypsy Rose Lee, Louise goes on to hit the heights of fame, accompanying her sexy dances with unexpectedly intellectual patter. Rose is left to wonder, in words written by Sondheim, “When is it my turn? Don’t I get a dream for myself?”
Gypsy has had several successful Broadway and London stage revivals. Pictured below, left-to-right: Ethel Merman (1959), Angela Lansbury (1974), Tyne Daly (1989), Bernadette Peters (2003), Patti LuPone (2008), and Imelda Staunton (2015) all playing Rose.
Songs (from the Broadway Show)
- "Overture" – Orchestra
- "May We Entertain You?" – Baby June and Baby Louise
- "Some People" – Rose
- "Some People" (Reprise) – Rose
- "Small World" – Rose and Herbie
- "Baby June and Her Newsboys" – Baby June and Newsboys
- "Mr. Goldstone, I Love You" – Rose, Herbie, Ensemble
- "Little Lamb" – Louise
- "You'll Never Get Away From Me" – Rose and Herbie
- "Dainty June and Her Farmboys" – June and Farmboys
- "Broadway" – June and Farmboys
- "If Momma Was Married" – June and Louise
- "All I Need is the Girl" – Tulsa and Louise
- "Everything's Coming up Roses" – Rose
- Act II
- "Entr'acte" - Orchestra
- "Madame Rose's Toreadorables" – Louise, Rose and the Hollywood Blondes
- "Together, Wherever We Go" - Rose, Herbie, and Louise
- "You Gotta Get a Gimmick" – Mazeppa, Electra, and Tessie Tura
- "Small World" (Reprise) – Rose
- "Let Me Entertain You"” – Louise
- "Rose's Turn" – Rose
The 2008 recording of the Patti Lupone show included 7 songs from the Sondheim and Styne Estate archives that were cut from Gypsy during the 1959 tryouts.
- Tomorrow's Mother's Day ... originally sung by the Newsboys Act, but dropped in favor of “Let Me Entertain You.”
- Small World/Momma's Talkin' Soft ... June and Louise sang this during the “Small World” scene, but it was cut from the show. The “talkin' soft” melody shows up in “Rose's Turn.”
- Nice She Ain't ...Herbie's song, meant to be sung after “You'll Never Get Away From Me.”
- Smile, Girls ... Sung by Rose to the Toreadorables at the top of Act Two.
- Who Needs Him? ... Sung by Rose in the Second Act. The writers substituted a reprise of “Small World” instead.
- Three Wishes for Christmas ... cut in Philadelphia, this was a big Christmas Burlesque number with a male singer.
Gypsy was made into a movie in 1962 with Rosalind Russell as Rose, Natalie Wood as Louise, and Karl Malden as Herbie. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy, the film was photographed by Streisand's first cinematographer, Harry Stradling. (Trivia: Malden, by the way, played Streisand's father in the 1987 film, Nuts.)
Leonard Spigelgass made changes to Gypsy's plot structure and characters in his screenplay: Rose narrated the film via voice-over; Herbie appeared much earlier in the film (Spiegelgass merged his character with the “Uncle Jocko” character in the opening scene.)
“Some People”—Rose's first number in the show—was flip-flopped with “Small World,” with Spigelgass concentrating on Rose and Herbie's affair before having Rose sing her manifesto.
Besides adding an incongruous cameo appearance by comic Jack Benny, Spigelgass also changed June eloping with Tulsa to June eloping with “Jerry.” And because of that change, he wrote a goodbye scene for Tulsa and Louise.
Gypsy was filmed in 1993 as a made-for-television movie with Bette Midler as Rose, Cynthia Gibb as Louise, and Peter Riegert as Herbie. It was an interesting production with no screenplay credit—director Emile Ardolino filmed Arthur Laurents' Broadway script with no changes, which made the movie very stage-bound. [Order the Midler Gypsy DVD from Amazon by clicking here.]
Streisand Film Version
A new film of Gypsy starring Barbra Streisand has a history that goes back to 1989.
In 1989, news began spreading of Streisand starring in a new film version of Gypsy with Madonna as Louise. The show's Broadway creators addressed it in the press. After the 1962 film, “the show was dead in stock,” Jule Styne explained. “It took almost 30 years to offset that lousy picture.” Writer Arthur Laurents said, “Not for all the money in the world will we let them make another film version of Gypsy.”
In his memoir The Rest of the Story, Laurents wrote about the conversation he had with Streisand around 2009 about making a movie of Gypsy. He recalled that when Streisand asked if he thought she could play Rose, he replied, “No.” “Too old?” Streisand asked. “No,” he replied, “But you'd play for sympathy.”
He explained: “She said she knew Rose because her mother was Rose. She went into details. Her mother made Rose look like Mother Teresa. That Barbra survived was a testament to her determination [...] The three-hour conversation left me with affection for Barbra and convinced she could play Rose if she cut her fingernails and didn't direct.”
Flash-forward to January 2011. News broke that Warner Brothers and producer Joel Silver were developing a film version of the musical Gypsy for Barbra Streisand, who would star as Mama Rose and also produce the film.
Arthur Laurents told the press that “now things are serious and a movie is truly in the works.” Laurents even mentioned that Tom Hanks would be a great addition to the cast as Herbie.
Laurents, not a fan of the 1962 film version starring Rosalind Russell, said, “I would be very pleased if we had a different film version for the historical record.”
As for Streisand being too old for the role (she turned 70 in 2012), Laurents told the New York Times, “First of all, they can do magic in Hollywood. Second, does it really matter?”
Laurents, Stephen Sondheim (who wrote the show's lyrics) and the estates of Jule Styne (music) and Jerome Robbins (original Broadway director) had to approve a new film as they hold the rights to the original Broadway production.
Meanwhile, The King's Speech director, Tom Hooper, was interested in directing Streisand as Rose. (He ended up directing the film version of another Broadway musical, Les Miserables.)
Two months later, after speaking with Sondheim about the project, however, Laurents had changed his mind. Sondheim, Laurents told the press, “told me something that he got from the British — and it's wonderful. He said, 'You want a record because the theater is ephemeral. But that's wrong. The theater's greatest essence is that it is ephemeral. You don't need a record. The fact that it's ephemeral means you can have different productions, different Roses on into infinity.' ” Laurents, therefore, concluded, “So I don't want it now. I don't want a definitive record. I want it to stay alive.”
A week or so after Laurents made it sound like the project was over, it was reported that Universal was interested in the property. Then, sadly, Laurents died on May 5, 2011 at the age of 93.
In May 2011, Gypsy film producer Joel Silver told the New York Times that Laurents gave his blessing (and his signature) to the film version of Gypsy before he died, calling for the film to be “substantially similar” to the stage musical. “I last spoke to Arthur in April,” Silver said, “brought him up to speed on everything, and then I think I surprised him a little by asking him to make the movie with me. I felt that he understood ‘Gypsy’ better than anyone, and that he understood Barbra, since he cast her in her first big musical, ‘I Can Get It for You Wholesale.’ And he said yes. We were talking about him coming out to L.A. in May.”
- “We just have to find our team and a writer,” Streisand told USA Today in August 2011.
- Julian Fellowes was named as Gypsy's screenwriter in March 2012. The press release from Universal Films read:
Producers Barbra Streisand and Joel Silver have set Academy Award®-winning writer Julian Fellowes to pen the screenplay adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents’ Tony Award winning musical, Gypsy, which Ms. Streisand and Mr. Silver are currently developing for Universal Pictures. Ms. Streisand will portray “Momma Rose” in the new version
- In her 2012 concert tour, Barbra sang a medley of “Some People” and “Rose's Turn.”
- Vanity Fair's December 2012 story on Julian Fellowes characterized his screenplay as “a big-screen reconceptualization of Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents’s Gypsy.”
- Joel Stein's December 2012 Time magazine story on Streisand contained this tantilizing sentence: “she told me she’s thinking of casting Lady Gaga as the lead in her remake of Gypsy.” (Gaga would play Louise, who transforms during the movie into the stripper Gypsy Rose Lee.)
- Streisand later recanted her statement about Gaga when she spoke with Entertainment Weeky's Marc Malkin. She said she "got into trouble for mentioning" Gaga and that "It was an idea."
- Barbra told Marc Malkin, regarding directing and starring in the picture: "I don't know if I would direct it. I'm not sure about that."
Streisand told more to the press about her Gypsy project in December 2012:
- She told Entertainment Weekly they were “still working out one rights issue” for the movie, and that “it should happen, but it just takes forever.”
- “Age is just a number,” she told Entertainment Weekly about being too old to play Rose. “Some people look old at 45. Some people look younger at my age…. I saw CGI of an actor that made him go from 60 to 30, by the way. What they can do now, technically.”
- Streisand also told USA Today: “(Producer) Joel Silver has been trying to get the rights. It's been a year and a half," she says. "It's getting very close. If it comes to be, it comes to be. If it doesn't …”
During her 2013 Europe concert tour, a fan in the audience yelled out a question about Gypsy. Streisand answered: "Tell those people who want to know when I will start filming Gypsy to call Stephen Sondheim and ask him." There were internet rumors about what this actually meant, but nothing's been confirmed to date.
In an April 2013 question-and-answer with the New York Times, another fan asked Streisand directly:
Q. Are you still planning to play Momma Rose in “Gypsy”? Please say yes! JIM C., Seattle
In July 2014, there was a curious, one-sentence story over at Mail Online about Barbra's movie version of the musical Gypsy: “[Matilda director Matthew] Warchus has decided not to do the film version of Gypsy, with Barbra Streisand, because he has too much on.” The 47-year-old director was, instead, to succeed actor Kevin Spacey as the artistic director of England's Old Vic Theatre. [Warchus was most likely attached to the movie because of Julian Fellowes' screenplay; Warchus and Fellowes were working together on a musical stage adaptation of the film Slumdog Millionaire.]
- July 31, 2014, Nikke Finke reported that Richard LaGravenese (who wrote Barbra's film The Mirror Has Two Faces) was hired to pen the Gypsy screenplay for Universal. (There was no official announcement from the studio.)
- Finke reported: “... producer Joel Silver told me the British writer [Fellowes] had done a 'wonderful job' on the draft.”
Finke also wrote:
A year ago, I learned that [Streisand] spoke with Silver and Universal about co-directing the musical with Tony Award-winner Matthew Warchus (Matilda, Follies), the British director and dramatist. The only thing standing in their way at that point was obtaining permission from Stephen Sondheim who is the keeper of the Gypsy legacy since Arthur Laurents died and has approval over Gypsy‘s director as well as its 3 main roles. "Sondheim is the only person left who speaks for the whole creative group over the project," Silver explained to me at the time.
- September 2014 ... “It goes in, it goes out, it gets near, then it falls away,” Barbra told Entertainment Tonight. Asked when Gypsy might come to fruition, Barbra replied, “Hopefully in this coming year.”
- Barbra told Access Hollywood: "It probably might happen." And clarifying the timing: “Well, if certain people come on board toward the end of this year, the beginning of next year ..."
- September 8, 2014 ... During a Sirius XM Radio interview, Barbra said: "I see every frame of it...I think it's possibly gonna happen."
- September 27, 2014 ... Barbra participated in a Q&A on Twitter. Blogger Perez Hilton asked: “What can you tell us about the "Gypsy" movie? Any update???" Barbra responded: “Yes, we are re-writing Gypsy now and I have another picture I want to direct.”
Richard LaGravenese, who talked to the press in February 2015 to promote his movie version of the musical The Last Five Years, finally spoke about Gypsy.
- LaGravenese told ComingSoon.net ... “I just rewrote Gypsy for Streisand and they’re now pulling that production together, they’re looking for a director [ ...] Barbra and I rewrote it and it was great working with her, and I think she’s going to be an amazing Rose, so I hope it comes together.”
- LaGravenese talked more about Gypsy to Queerty.com: “I finished [the screenplay] before Christmas. Barbra and I worked on it from September through the fall. I had the best time with her. I can’t even tell you. It was like a fantasy come true. I did my first draft and went to her house to do rewrites. She’s so meticulous in the best possible way. We went through it page by page by page. I played Herbie and she played Rose. I’d play Louise and she’d play Rose. We laughed and had the best time together. I hope it gets made because having her sing that score and play that part would be the penultimate moment for those of us who love that musical. She’s just extraordinary to work with. She cares so much. She’s so passionate about it. She’s so smart. We had such a great time ... The script is at the studio. Joel Silver is a very tenacious producer. I hear that he’s going to make sure this happens.”
- Regarding Barbra's age, he said: “I think it’s more about her singing that score. She’s an actress and it’s a movie. When Sarah Bernhardt was in her 70s she was performing younger roles. It doesn’t matter to me. She looks fantastic, first of all. I’m not going to be watching the movie doing math. I just want to hear her do that part. I know she can do it. For those who are going to have that problem, nothing we do is going to help that. They’re going to be out to comment on that. I’d rather have her play the part and sing that score and fuck the rest of it. ”
- On how he's written his screenplay: “... she sent me Gypsy to read and it just evolved into wanting to do a rewrite on it, which was primarily about putting Arthur Laurents’ book back into it, because it’s the best fucking book of any musical. [Laughs] And then expanding and doing things I’ve always wanted to do in terms of character for Louise and the relationship between June and Louise. It’s a tough show to make cinematic. “Some People” is a very tough song to make cinematic. It’s a dynamic song, but it takes place in a kitchen. So how do you film that? It’s the toughest number in the show. All of those things we worked on were really fun.”
- On who will direct: “I can’t answer that.”
- On September 1, 2015, Barbra's husband, Jim Brolin, was interviewed by Extra about his new television show and was asked about an Instagram photo showing Lady Gaga, director Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story, The Normal Heart), and John Travolta at dinner with the Brolins. Brolin said it was "just a dinner" but elaborated on the status of Barbra's Gypsy movie: "I don’t know if it’s green-lit yet, but it’s very close. It’s got to happen."
- In an interview with Extra on October 1, 2015, John Travolta was asked about that dinner and if it had anything to do with Gypsy. Travolta answered: “Well, yeah, I mean Barbra 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.”
- October 27, 2015: Deadline reports exclusively that Universal took a pass on Gypsy, which means it goes into "turnaround" — Universal can declare a loss with the IRS, and the rights may be sold to another studio in exchange for reimbursement for costs to date plus interest. Deadline did reveal its sources said Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde, Monster-In-Law) was chosen to direct.
- January 27, 2016: John Travolta has loose lips, LOL. In an interview about his new television movie, he talked about Gypsy. “Barbra (Streisand) is dealing with ‘Gypsy,’” John Travolta told Reben Nepales at Inquirer.net “I will find out eventually what the deal is,” John added in this recent interview. “It’s a good idea.” But John stressed that he’d prefer to patiently wait as Barbra, his close friend, tries to get the project off and running. “I’m very respectful of what our relationship is. I can’t wait—I want to do a musical desperately,” said the star of such musicals as “Hairspray,” “Grease” and “Saturday Night Fever.” “It’s just hard to find them.” Then, later in the interview: Again, John emphasized that his iconic friend is still actively developing what would be the third movie version of “Gypsy” after the 1962 movie adaptation and the 1993 TV production.
- April 11, 2016: Variety reported: STX Entertainment is in advanced negotiations to make “Gypsy” with the [Streisand] taking the lead role, and Oscar winner Barry Levinson (“Rain Man”) directing ... Streisand will produce the film with Joel Silver (“Lethal Weapon”) and his Silver Pictures label. Richard LaGravenese (“The Fisher King”) is writing the film, with Streisand involved in developing the script ... “It’s Barbra Streisand doing one more, if not the last, movie musical of her career,” said [STX chairman Adam] Fogelson, adding that he was excited by “the type of talent that is clamoring to work with her on one of the most famous and satisfying musicals ever.”
- On the same day, STX Motion Picture Group Chairman Adam Fogelson spoke with Deadline and discussed Gypsy, which he hoped would begin filming Fall 2016. “There’s a real shot at getting this thing done this year. It’s a fast turnaround . I think Barbra doing a movie like this in her career now is a global event. We all have a vision for it at a price where it all makes sense. It would be incredibly exciting if we figure out how to pull it off,” he said, adding director Barry Levinson is aiming to sign on and has a very good take on the material and the script written by Richard LaGravenese. Joel Silver is still attached as producer. For STX it is all just part of a master plan where artists can bring projects that actually have a chance of getting made in the way they envisioned, again for a price (with an $80 million cap at this point).
- July 14, 2016: Playbill ran a story in which screenwriter Richard LaGravenese stated production is slated to commence at the beginning of 2017. The screenplay was completed in May 2016 and casting is about to commence. “The difficult problem [with Gypsy] is making it cinematic,” LaGravenese told Playbill.com at the July 14 New York Musical Festival press event. “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.”
- July 21, 2016: Barbra Streisand contradicted Richard LaGravenese's statements when, in an interview with ET Canada, she said, “I was going to doGypsy in October. That's why I'm doing the tour now ... one day Gypsy's on and the next day it's off ....” When the interviewer asked her, “So, Gypsy's on?” Streisand replied: “I'm not sure. And that's the movie business!”
- August 3, 2016: Deadline confirmed what Barbra hinted at ... “STX Entertainment is exiting its role as distributor and co-financier of Gypsy ... It looks like STX’s exposure grew on this picture, after a major part of the puzzle exited. Sources said that Leonard Blavatnik, the Russian-born financier and producer, was aboard for as much as one-third of the budget, but dropped out. That would have placed STX in a riskier position on a film with a budget north of $50 million.”
It looks like Barbra Streisand will be on the silver screen soon (best guess: Christmas 2017).
Navigate to other Streisand films using the jump menu below: