Whitney Houston stays quiet about new album

BARBRA STREISAND has given up more than 400 of her cherished clothes, movie and stage costumes, furniture and collectables, which she has had in storage for years. These will travel in September aboard the Queen Mary 2 for an exhibit in Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland. Then, on Oct. 17-18, the collection will be in New York for sale. Proceeds go to Streisand’s pet charities for women, children, environmental and political causes.

“I am through with extra stuff,” says Babs. “What good does it do in storage? Let someone else enjoy it. I’m a collector, but now I have enough; it’s a good time to clean closets.” ‘

But forget closets. The really big Barbra news is her return to her small-scale nightclub roots for a one-night gig at NYC’s Village Vanguard on Sept. 26th. Only 100 free tickets will be made available to fans. You have to go to her official website to get all the details. One hundred inside the club and lord knows how many clamoring outside that night! This woman still fills stadiums; the logistics, the crowd control, are going to be daunting. But for those lucky 100 — what a treat to hear Barbra croon once again in so intimate a space.

SPEAKING OF great singing divas, the advance word on Whitney Houston’s long-awaited album is terrific; her voice has apparently retained its fabled luster. So that’s good. What’s bad? Whitney’s people are keeping the star on a low burner. Very few interview requests are being answered in the affirmative. Even this office, where we have spoken only well of her, was told the star is “conserving herself.” Hmmmm … I don’t know much, but I do know the record industry is in dire straights. Nobody’s selling a lot of records anymore. La Publicite, Whitney! Think about it.

WANDERED into Orsos after the theater and ran right into Ali MacGraw who is still beautiful and now lives quietly in Sante Fe, N.M. The star of the classic movie “Love Story” doesn’t always get the credit she deserves. As a matter of fact, later in life she made one of my all-time favorite movies with, of all people, the comic Alan King. “Just Tell Me What You Want” is partly the story of a tempestuous couple who stage a fight in Bergdorf Goodman. It is simply terrific as directed by Sidney Lumet and you should look for it on DVD.

I told Ali I had just been thinking of her because I had read that very day the details of her late love Steve McQueen’s unhappy death from cancer. It’s all in the coming new book “Morbid Curiosity: The Disturbing Demises of the Famous and Infamous.”

Ali mused for a moment — “Yeah, yeah. You know Liz, all these rumors and feelers that they are looking to film the Steve McQueen story. Where in the world do you think they’ll ever come up with anyone who looks and acts like Steve!”

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