Barbra sings White House blues

GOOD MORNING: I am so glad to be feeling great again, because I wouldn’t have missed Sunday night’s concert at the Kodak starring Barbra Streisand for anything. This gig was the National Democratic Gala and Barbra made it a convincing night to benefit all Americans. She even quoted Shakespeare (“Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor — for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword.”) Barbra also borrowed from Alan & Marilyn Bergman to rewrite lyrics to their (and Marvin Hamlisch’s) “The Way We Were.” She chirped, “Scattered pictures of the house we left behind/Lovely Democratic mem’ries of the way we were.” She then segued into “Mis’ries — seems that’s all that fill the news/Blame the fella in the White House for the way we ARE! So, in November, let’s make the congress a Democratic Congress–The way we were, the way we were.” Before starting, she admitted to the packed house, “You know I don’t like to perform anymore, but I’d do anything to help the Democrats win back the House!” She received a standing ovation before walking onstage, plus repeated ovations during and, of course, at the close.

Popular on Variety

BARBRA SEEMED TOTALLY AT EASE. She glided across the stage in a full, flowing bouffant gown that made her even more imposing when her greater-than-glorious voice rang out in numbers like “My Funny Valentine,” “Little Boy Blue,” “The Shadow of Your Smile.” She said, “Some day I’d like to do an entire bossa nova album” and exchanged light patter with show producer (whatta job!) David Foster on a stage flanked with 10 flowing white curtains lighted with differing colors to meet the mood of the songs. A giant U.S. flag draped the shimmering stage backdrop as Barbra and a choir joined on Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” She introduced Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.), who thanked the performers. He acknowledged that he receives faxes from Streisand, “while the Republicans get faxes from Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson.” He admitted, “I have never felt so strong about an election in my life” and apologized to his wife for coming home at night, screaming. “But if you were locked up in a building all day with those (Republican) nuts, you’d be screaming, too!”

WOLFGANG PUCK’S PLATOONS were busy all night with the pre-party reception plus the after-show supper in the Grand Ballroom. (Wolfie was also busy Friday with his Meals on Wheels charity; whatta guy!) … In the Kodak, we sat alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus (returns midseason for NBC) and her husband, Brad Hall, and in front of environmentalist par excellence Ed Begley Jr. At the dinner we sat alongside AFI’s Jean Picker Firstenberg and Roz Wyman (the first L.A. councilwoman, whose credits include chairing the Demo Convention in S.F.). Also at our table, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the youngest femme member to achieve the highest post in the House. She’s no stranger to Hollywood, with friends including the Kirk Douglases … David Foster introduced his latest talent find, Michael Brube (pronounced Brubay), with whom he completed a WB album. Steve Harvey was the evening’s m.c. who mused about the fact there were 10 donors who contributed $250,000 apiece. “For $250,000 Barbra Streisand would have to sing to me alone — on stage.” The Three Mo’ Tenors brought the house to its feet for their remarkable voices, from opera to hip-hop. Barry Manilow performed generously and volunteered to appear anytime for the Dems … And I’d go anywhere again to hear Barbra perform like she did Sunday. She was courageous, convincing, spellbinding!

“NEWMAN HERE,” was the voice on the phone Saturday night as Newman, as in Paul, called to inquire about my health as he was about to go on stage in “Fandango III” at the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang camp in Connecticut. Newman, Joanne Woodward and friends raised $949,000, bringing to $10 million the amount they’ve raised for the camps for kids with incurable maladies. Paul was in drag for his role, as were Kevin Kline and Ben Vereen. Paul joked to me, “Joanne once said, ‘If you want to keep your husband, put him in a dress!’ ” The show was written by Newman’s Own partner A.E. Hotchner, with an all-star cast … A sad note, Harvey Silbert, one of the town’s leading humanitarians and longtime chairman of the American Friends of the Hebrew U., died Saturday. Services will be held at noon today at Hillside. He personally brought delegations to Israel to encourage awareness and support. He received countless honors from civic groups in both the legal and showbiz fraternities. Over the years he represented studio heads and stars dating back to Howard Hughes with the firm of Wyman, Bautzer, Rothman, Silbert & Kuchel. He built and owned the Riviera in Las Vegas.

More Voices

  • Sam Mendes Bong Joon Ho 1917

    Final Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win in the Major Categories?

    The 92nd Academy Awards are almost here… For films like “Joker” and “Marriage Story,” the journey to the Oscars began five months ago with their premieres in Venice. “1917” had the least amount of time on the campaign trail: The Sam Mendes war movie didn’t start screening until late November. Popular on Variety In the [...]

  • Harriet Movie BTS

    Academy Needs to Start Taking Chances With Noms; Rewards Will Follow (Column)

    Throughout its history, the Academy Awards has been subject to intense criticism for the issues it embraces — and ignores. This year’s uproar over the lack of diversity among nominations in the highest-profile awards categories is the latest example. This failure reflects a chronic dearth of opportunity at Hollywood’s top artistic and financial levels. The milestone nominations [...]

  • Baby Yoda The Mandolorian

    Media Giants Make Smaller Moves With an Eye Toward Future Gains in Streaming Era

    Maybe the empire can strike back. Or at least strike anew. Over the past few months, a number of developments have emerged for traditional media companies that indicate a spirit of reinvention and experimentation is spreading across the industry. There’s a new willingness to take a hard look at long-standing operations and make big and [...]

  • Olivia Wilde Booksmart BTS

    Olivia Wilde on Her Move From Acting to Directing With 'Booksmart'

    Olivia Wilde began acting in 2004 when she was 20 years old. It never occurred to her that she might also enjoy stepping behind the lens. “I always wanted to make movies and be a part of the moviemaking process,” she tells me. “I always assumed acting was the way in, because for many young [...]

  • Oscar Statue Oscars Placeholder

    Oscars 2020 Predictions: Who Will Get Nominated?

    The Oscar race is on. And it’s about to get a lot more intense when the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announces the nominations for the 92nd Oscars on Jan. 13. Popular on Variety Golden Globes shutout “The Irishman” is favored to earn several nods, as will “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” [...]

  • Golden Globes Analysis Oscar Race

    Why Golden Globes Will Likely Have Little Effect on Oscar Nominations (Column)

    With the Globes now behind us and Oscar noms rapidly approaching on Jan. 13, what should we be paying attention to in Hollywood’s biggest film awards race? Surefire bets are Globe winners Renée Zellweger (“Judy”), who already has one Oscar, and Brad Pitt, who should garner his third acting nomination for his work in Quentin [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content