Barbra Streisand and Netflix announced a new content deal tonight at the closing Netflix FYSee event in which the superstar appeared in conversation with Jamie Foxx at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood on behalf of her concert special Barbra: The Music … The Mem’ries … The Magic! It includes a number of her earlier TV specials stretching back to the beginning of her career in the 1960s but the really big news revolved around her 1976 film version of A Star Is Born.
The Netflix press release only says there will be a “special edition” of the film coming to the service including never-before-seen footage of Streisand performing an instrumental version of her Oscar winner “Evergreen” for the first time, and added footage to the iconic “With One More Look At You/Watch Closely Now” medley finale. No date has been given for the debut of this new footage but in an interview late Friday afternoon Streisand told me it would be in a few days. It hasn’t been set yet.
The rare interview I did with the legendary star had been scheduled to run on Tuesday, but since she gave the news of the new Star Is Born footage to Foxx earlier this evening, I can elaborate on it now.
My interview was timed to Netflix’s Emmy campaign for her special, but she surprisingly leaked the news of the new footage when I pointed out that she performs several songs from the film in the special and wondered if there was a particular reason for that. That’s when she mentioned the new Star Is Born footage and why she wanted it to come out now. “Because it was the truth when I said it was my philosophy then, and it’s still my philosophy, I want everything. As a matter of fact today [Friday], when I was doing the sound for the scene I put into my Star Is Born, it’s going to go on Netflix, my version of A Star Is Born, it starts in a few days,” she told me. “I just finished the sound and the color. I did a rock ‘n’ roll version of the last song in the movie, which I never got to edit because in those days, when I showed the one take of me singing, and the audience liked it so much, I left it alone, but now the studio has dug out the film that I never got to edit. It took three weeks to find the film, and I just edited it in the last two days and I think it’s much better.”
Streisand went on to elaborate why she wanted to do this. “It’s better, and then I put in the scene where I played him my song Evergreen for the first time, and I had no lyric to it, and it’s a scene that establishes her as a singer/songwriter, which is very good, and it kind of is much more…it gives more depth to their relationship, and I can’t believe that I, as the person who had final cut of that movie (the late Frank Pierson is credited as director), cut myself out of that scene because I was just looking at the pace, but I didn’t realize what I was cutting out until much later. Now, Netflix has given me the opportunity to do that and put these scenes in, so it’s a never before kind of scene, two scenes, with these songs that I think will also enrich the film, when I do sing the song with a lyric and it’s with (co-star) Kris (Kristofferson), and it’s about him, so now, the scene is no lyric, just me playing guitar, and I really learned it. I had to learn to play the guitar for this. I cut it out. I can’t believe I did that,” she told me adding that she had one hand with long nails to strum the strings, and the other practically with no nails at all.
Ironically the 1954 version of A Star Is Born starring Judy Garland also had issues with long lost footage resurrected at Warner Bros several years ago. Streisand told me she is pleased she had this opportunity to further enhance her own version of the classic Hollywood tale at this time. I asked her if she has seen any of the new version of A Star Is Born scheduled for release in October that Bradley Cooper directs and stars in with Lady Gaga. This one is set in the music world, but in the country music world this time around. “I saw parts of it and I thought it was very good. Bradley is a really good director, and he got a good performance out of Lady Gaga. I think it’s a story that works. It’s interesting to see my version, it’s interesting to see Judy Garland’s version, you know even to go back to 1937 (Janet Gaynor’s version), the story works every time,” she said. “But I just tried to make it about singer/songwriters. In Judy Garland’s version she was a singer, and he was actor.”
In addition to the new version of A Star Is Born, Netflix will be adding a number of TV specials from the Streisand Library including award-winning My Name Is Barbra (1965), Color Me Barbra (1966), Barbra Streisand: A Happening in Central Park (1968), Barbra Streisand and Other Musical Instruments (1973), Barbra Streisand: The Concert (1994), and Barbra Streisand: Timeless (2001).