Iain Johnstone Interview

Aired on BBC: March 6, 1977 & March 18, 1977

Iain Johnstone and Barbra Streisand at her Los Angeles home

English author and broadcaster Iain Johnstone suspected that Barbra Streisand would want to sit down for an interview about her new Warner Brothers movie, A Star is Born, after she had received some negative press in the U.S. “Through Warners, I secured an interview,” he wrote in his memoir.

Johnstone's interview with Streisand aired twice on the BBC. It aired March 6, 1977 as part of Barry Norman's show about cinema, Film ’77.

Title sequence of Film 77 with host Barry Norman

Two weeks later, BBC 2 aired the full ½ hour interview.

BBC 2 newspaper listing for Johnstone and Streisand interview

Johnstone filmed the interview with a three man crew at Barbra's Carolwood Drive home in Beverly Hills. “It was hardly an appropriate place to film as it was so immaculate and expensive,” he recalled. “She was petite, surprisingly attractive, wearing a simple pink jumper and a pair of jeans and radiated a woman in love.”

Barbra explained to Johnstone why she remade A Star is Born: “I was never fond of the passivity of the woman in the other two films,” she said. “I wanted my Esther to be proactive, to save this man. I have a scene where I propose to him and I’m wearing a man’s suit. I’m not a radical feminist or anything, but I do believe in women taking hold of their own strengths.”

Johnstone was able to discuss the film's director with Streisand. Frank Pierson had written a scathing article about making the film which upset Streisand immensely. “What made him do it?” Johnstone asked.

“I don’t really know,” she said, incredulously. “ It was destructive to the film and to himself. He could have waited.” She explained, “It was in the contract that he had first cut, but I had final cut.”

“The film was a nightmare,” Streisand continued. “Pierson may be a good director but he and I had … er … different chemistries. I would come up with suggestions about the detail on a set or a look for a costume and he implied I was being meddlesome. Well, a producer can meddle. There were a couple of major rows with Kris, especially when we were filming the live concert which I knew couldn’t be reshot. But we’re good friends. He gave up drinking after the film.”

Here's the interview, as posted on YouTube:



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