However, it took until 2001—nearly one year after it was filmed—for the Timeless television special to premiere.
Barbra's manager, Marty Erlichman, explained to the Chicago Tribune that he “couldn't give anybody a release date for [the TV special]. Barbra didn't make up her mind to do additional concerts until February, then she was going to give her final shows in Australia. She then changed her mind and decided to do a couple more for her fans in the United States.”
The television special captured both of Barbra's performances at the MGM Grand Hotel from New Year's Eve 1999/2000. “Barbra wasn't sure at that time if she wsa ever going to do any more concerts beyond those, so we just wanted something in the memory bank,” Marty Erlichman said.
TV Guide Online posted an interview with Marty Erlichman in which he explained the enormity of the production: "We have a production crew that's almost 300 people, 500 moving lights, 59,000 pounds of scenic equipment overhead, 169 microphones and 340 sound mixers."
At the start, against the stage's red velvet curtain, Barbra's new introductory words appear on screen — "This is the first of my final concerts which I also performed in Australia, Los Angeles, and New York. Since I've decided to make this concert my last, I thought it would be appropriate to look back in time."
Allison Waldman (The Barbra Streisand Scrapbook) interviewed Timeless' television producer, Don Mischer, in 2009. He spoke to her about working on Timeless with Streisand:
Waldman: What was it like working with Barbra Streisand on Timeless, because I saw that show in Las Vegas live, and I thought the DVD really captured what I had seen…
Mischer: Well, thank you. For anyone in my business, who does what I do, to have the opportunity to work with Barbra it’s something that you dream about. And you know it’s not the easiest. There’s a process you go through in which everything is examined and it’s re-examined and all avenues are explored constantly, so the process is extremely focused and very consuming, but always with Barbra, you end up at the right place, with the right material. I remember being at her house many times with long, long meetings. And if there was some reason that we’d want to hear music, she would get up, go over to the piano and Marvin Hamlisch would be there, he was our musical director, and she’d sing “Some Enchanted Evening” and you just go goose bumps. I mean, I’m here in a room with Barbra and Marvin Hamlisch and she’s just singing “Some Enchanted Evening” for the three or four of us there. What an honor! I just have the greatest respect for her.
Waldman: Working with someone like Barbra who’s so meticulous, it’s challenging but it’s also rewarding in the end.
Mischer: Oh yes, what you want is someone who cares so much about the product and cares so much about how it works and explores every single little avenue – would it be better if we do it this way, or what if we did it that way, what if she switch these two things around – that’s how you get to the right decision. That’s the kind of process that Barbra has. And there are other artists the same way who are really, really careful about what the content is. They really think about it. They don’t just come out and perform a song. They think about how they’re put together, how they’re structured. We had a similar experience with Prince. Stars like Barbra have good instincts about themselves and you need to help them develop that and make suggestions, throw out options, but in the end, they must feel they’ve made the right decision for themselves.
When the special finally aired—on FOX television—the concert was edited for content. Airing on Valentines Day 2001, Streisand fans noticed that all references to the Millenium and New Years Eve were edited from the television broadcast, which ran (with commercials) 2 hours. Numbers like “Miss Marmelstein” and “A Sleepin Bee” were not shown. FOX aired Timeless again on May 25, 2001.
In the Nielsen TV ratings, Barbra Streisand: Timeless attracted an estimated 8.7 million viewers in 6 million homes with an overall 5.9 rating, placing the program #62 for the week. For comparative purposes, the largest audience of the evening went to NBC's Law And Order (13.8 rating, 14 million homes).
“Timeless” on Home Video
Barbra Streisand: Timeless - Live In Concert
Release Date: February 20, 2001
Columbia Music Video/Sony Music
List Price: $29.98
Sony Catalog Number: CVD 54020
Features: Full Screen, English - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, English - Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, Discography, Song (Chapter) Access, Interactive Menus
Running Time: 2 hours 7 minutes
Disc Format: Single Layer/Single Sided
Region Code: 1 (no insert card or booklet)
VHS videotape released simultaneously ($19.98)
[Product Announcement #1] To celebrate the final concert tour of Barbra Streisand's unparalleled career, here is the complete version of her critically acclaimed "Timeless Concerts," which were the highlight of the Millennium celebration. Recorded at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas on December 31, 1999 and January 1, 2000, the program contains performances of over 40 songs that span Barbra's illustrious career.
Foreign Release Dates: Canada (March 20), UK & Europe (May 28), Australia (July 16)
Chart Action: Billboard Top Music Video Sales (VHS/DVD)
-- 3/10/01: #1 (debut week)
-- 3/17/01: #1
-- 3/24/01: #3
-- 3/31/01: #8
-- 4/7/01: #10
-- 6/16/01: #4
Billboard Top Video Sales (VHS)
-- 3/17/01, 3/24/01: #31
-- 3/31/01: #11
-- 4/7/01: #10
RIAA Gold certification: 4/12/01 RIAA Platinum certification: 6/4/01
The Timeless VHS and DVD (released on February 20, 2001) contained the complete Millenium-themed concert. It was the first Streisand music DVD available (and with a 5.1 surround sound mix!).
Barbra introduces the concert with some written words on screen: "The first of my last concerts happened while the whole world was celebrating the new millennium. In the hours before the clock struck midnight, I thought it was appropriate to look back in time." This is a variation of her FOX special intro.
Here is the complete list of Emmy nominations and wins for Barbra Streisand: Timeless.
- Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program — Barbra Streisand (Winner) (Others nominated: Steve Martin as Oscars host, Ellen DeGeneres, David Letterman, Will Ferrell, and Wayne Brady)
- Outstanding Music Direction — Marvin Hamlisch (Winner)
- Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety or Music Series or Special — David Reitzas (Co-Winner in tie)
- Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special — Michael Polito
- Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic, Multicamera) for VMC Programming — Peter Morse and Bob Dickinson
- Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video for a Miniseries, Movie or Special — Several individuals including technical director John Pritchett, 10 camera operators, and 2 video controllers (Winners)
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