Barbra Streisand Talks #MeToo at PaleyFest LA: ‘We’re in a Strange Time’

Barbra Streisand Talks #MeToo at PaleyFest: 'We're in a Strange Time'
Michael Bulbenko for the Paley Center

A night devoted to celebrating the TV legacy of Barbra Streisand was not without her reflections on the #MeToo movement.

Kicking off the opening night of the annual PaleyFest at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater on Friday, Streisand commented on how the fight for gender equality is currently at a fever pitch.

“We’re in a strange time now in terms of men and women and the pendulum swinging this way and that way but it’s going to have to come to the center,” she told Ryan Murphy, the veteran TV producer who conducted the Q&A with Streisand at PaleyFest.

Over the course of an evening heavy on misty, water-colored memories of her days as both a performer and producer of TV going back to the 1960s, Streisand also revealed to Murphy that she herself was never the target of sexual harassment.

“I wasn’t like those pretty girls with those nice little noses,” she recalled. “Maybe that’s why. I have no idea.”

Those who turned out for PaleyFest’s first event of its 35th season were also treated to many clips of Streisand’s TV work dating back to her first appearance on TV in 1963 on “The Jack Paar Show.” In addition, there was outtakes from her performances on CBS that won her many Emmys, including “A Happening in Central Park” in 1968, which drew a crowd of 150,000 people.

The evening, which was topped by Streisand’s acceptance of Paley Center for Media’s Icon award, also delved into Streisand’s history as a producer of both fiction and non-fiction programming that were noteworthy for tackling tough issues, including the 2001 drama “What Makes a Family,” which concerned adoption by gay parents.

A self-described control freak, Streisand also detailed separate conflicts she had with Mike Wallace and Barbara Walters after appearing on their TV programs. After an interview with Wallace in which she felt he was mean, she described calling him to complain. She alleges Wallace went on the air the following week and told viewers that Streisand loved the show despite the letters he received from fans saying he was mean.

“I thought, I don’t know what date rape is, it’s terrible, but it was such a violation,” she said of Wallace’s alleged betrayal. “Why lie?”

Of an interview with Walters on ABC during the 1990s, she disagreed with how footage was edited of her supporting Al Gore in his presidential bid, and went on C-Span to clarify her comments.

“She got really angry with me because I told C-Span what I wanted to say,” recalled Streisand. “She thought I betrayed her because I went on C-Span, but I wish her well. She’s a good woman.”

Streisand also revealed that she didn’t perform on TV for many years until resurfacing on HBO in 1994 because of crippling stage fright. It was only after “a lot of work on myself” that she overcame her phobia, with some help from a “a little pill called Inderal. 10 milligrams.”

Of the beta blocker medication she remarked, “When you have a pounding heart, you can’t sing, it affects your vocal cords.”

In addition, Streisand talked about what TV shows she’s enjoyed, from the first season of Netflix’s “The Crown” to Ryan’s own “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace.”

“I have only lived in a world where Barbra Streisand is the biggest star in the universe,” said Murphy, who confessed in his opening remarks that he’s been mesmerized by her since the first movie he had ever seen, which happened to be “Funny Girl.”