Streisand on “Larry King Live”
(1992, 1995, 2010 appearances)
Larry King—born in Brooklyn, New York—was the television host who, from 1985 to 2010, broadcast a nightly interview television program called Larry King Live on the news cable station CNN. Barbra Streisand appeared on his show several times, and their rapport was always smart and congenial.
Streisand appeared three times on King's show [jump links below]:
“Two Jewish people from Brooklyn sitting here worldwide, Barbra don't be nervous.”
Streisand appeared on the show to publicize her new film that she directed, The Prince of Tides, and she also answered questions from Larry and some callers.
In the first segment of the hour-long show, King's first question was “Are you an actor who directs and sings? Are you a singer who directs and acts? What are you?”
“Do I have to label myself?” Streisand responded.
King covered Streisand's childhood and early career aspirations in New York.
After a break, King reminded Streisand that his show was broadcast live. “I like live. I like spontaneity,” Streisand admitted.
King asked her about the interview with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes when Wallace made her cry. “Well, I'm very naive, I suppose. I like Mike. I feel him. I feel his own pain, even, ya know? He's a complex human being. And I was just very naive in terms thinking, Well, he's part of my life and history—we started together 30 years ago. When I was 19 I was on his show. And I thought, God, this is wonderful. So I was kind of shocked to be attacked. I was hurt. But that's my naiveté, I guess. In other words, he's looking after getting a terrific show, I suppose. I don't know exactly what in me touches off that anger in him. I don't know what issues he has unresolved with his own mother ... Even though the show was painful at moments, it was spontaneous, it was alive. People got a chance to see who he was as well as who I am.”
Streisand and Larry King went on to discuss the press and interviews, then why she doesn't like to perform live. “I may want to,” she added, “it's a challenge for me!”
In the third segment, they discussed the price of fame, and Streisand stated she understands giving up her private life is part of that price.
Larry King showed and read the letter that the crew of Yentl wrote to the press, praising Streisand, in the last segment of his interview with her. “I'm not temperamental,” Streisand stated, when talking about how she's perceived as “difficult.”
Live callers got to ask Streisand questions next. Streisand told a Toronto caller she'd love to perform there. She told Larry King the chances were “fifty-fifty” that she would perform live again. A Houston, Texas caller asked about reuniting with Robert Redford for a Way We Were sequel. “I don't know. We have to have meetings again and talk about it.” Staten Island, New York asked Streisand about her son, Jason Gould. And Streisand told a Los Angeles caller that she didn't have any role models or stars she wanted to emulate when she was growing up.
When asked about the criticism she receives filming closeups of herself in the movies she directs, Streisand responded: “That's just nonsense. I would shoot me the same way I would shoot any actress playing the role—the way I would shoot Blythe Danner, the way I would shoot Kate Nelligan. You know what I'm saying? You want to make everything look as beautiful as it can in a movie. You're not going to try to make it look bad. So I don't understand criticism like that. It's very personal, trivial commentary.”
Another Toronto caller asked Streisand which album of hers she liked best (The Broadway Album) and least (“I think my album called Butterfly. That was pretty lousy. I think that's the only one that I didn't love. I just don't remember the songs. I can't remember what was on it. I don't remember doing it.”
Streisand talked about working with actors; directing herself; staying fit; how she only listens to classical music and film scores; President George H.W. Bush; and her sister, Roslyn Kind. “Well she's terrific, my sister. She has a great voice.”
When asked if she'd ever run for political office, Streisand laughed, “No. I'm too afraid of crowds!”
Taped in New York, Larry King welcomed Barbra Streisand back as a guest on his show in 1995. They spoke about politics and other subjects, which have been excerpted below:
On Stage Fright:
BARBRA: First of all, I think I’m like most—I would say 95% of the population, who would have stage fright standing up to speak publicly... I got this honorary degree a couple of weeks ago at Brandeis. I had to say nothing...I was not the speaker and I was totally frightened.
KING: Of what?
BARBRA: You see certain things are inexplainable. They’re irrational.
KING: But you stand on stage before thousands!
BARBRA: That took me 27 years to go back and do that ... I like to conquer my fears. It’s interesting, because I was able to do it with the tour. And then after the tour this sort of post-traumatic, post-performance stress set in and I was like, “I did that?” and I got frightened again.
KING: The other day, Bob Dole said and I quoted this to the president last night, “If President Clinton needs a million dollars he’s gotta go to Hollywood to get it so he’s not going to criticize Hollywood. If he needs two million dollars he’s going to ask Barbra Streisand to do a concert.” Why you?
BARBRA: Why do I get attacked? I’m a woman, I’m an actress, I’m a Jewess, I’m a liberal and proud to be one ...I’m an easy target, like Hollywood is an easy target. You know, Bob Dole talks about Hollywood and he grabs the headlines he wants. He’s running for president and everybody tunes in when it has to do with Hollywood. It’s glamorous, it’s--
KING: Easy to knock?
BARBRA: Very easy to knock ... what disturbs me is this blanket denunciation of an entire industry that has wonderful filmmakers and wonderful recording artists that give a lot to the American public and that make ﬁlms that uplift the spirit and that are life affirming and that give people a lot of joy. So I’m against the hypocrisy, I guess, the hypocrisy in what he says. In other words, if he’s against violence why is he for putting more guns on the streets? Fake guns in the movies don’t kill, real guns in schools and in the streets do kill.
On her interview with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes, in which his line of questioning made Barbra cry on screen:
BARBRA: I think he has a bit of a mean streak, sad to say. It was interesting, because the day after the show he wanted to know what I thought of it. I was in shock in a sense, although as a director l could appreciate the theatrics of it, you know. There were moments caught that were very real. So I said I would have to think about it. I didn’t like it, but I could appreciate the drama. The thing that really offended me was the week after the show he had some letters that said he was very mean to me and so forth and he said, “well, I talked to Barbra and she really liked it.” And then I felt like I was date-raped... that was a violation of what I said to him.
On Future projects:
BARBRA: I’m making two movie here... the first one is The Mirror Has Two Faces it’s because I couldn’t raise the money for my other film called The Normal Heart, which is about AIDS. And one of the things I feel passionate about is raising money for AIDS... I couldn’t raise enough money for this movie and I couldn’t get certain actors to commit in this time period, so it’s going to have to wait until next April.
On her movies:
KING: Is [The Way We Were] one of your favorites?
BARBRA: Yeah. I had a wonderful time making that movie.
KING: Because of Redford?
BARBRA: I loved working with him. I loved working with Sydney Pollack. I loved the script. I loved the story. It’s a wonderful story.
KING: Any movie you made you regret?
BARBRA: What a terrible thing to ask me. Yes, there are several movies I regret, but then don’t I hurt the filmmakers and people?
KING: Yeah, but there are some.
BARBRA: Uh, huh.
On her note-taking during the interview:
KING: You like writing better than anything else, right?
BARBRA: I like it better than talking, I’ll tell you that, yeah.
KING: Read something you wrote. Take something out of the journal and read it.
BARBRA: These are thoughts that I have. (reading from her journal)—“If I came to DC to say we need a trade war with China because they’re ripping off my CD’s and movies, everybody would say, ‘Good for her, she’s a business woman looking out for her own interests.’ But somehow it’s hard for some people to conceive of the fact that I’m interested in money for AIDS research, or that I care about children and education or the environment. It seems that it can’t be processed if there’s no self-interest. Except that the self-interest is that it makes me feel good.”
KING: Do you think that has to do with being a woman as well?
BARBRA: I think that what happens is that there is a need to discredit the accomplishments of strong competent women. I think that society isn’t quite ready for her, you know, she’s still a threatening figure in our cultures.
Closing the interview:
KING: Are you happy?
BARBRA: I’m happy.
KING: (to camera) Barbra Streisand ...
BARBRA: (joking) Happy it’s over...
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