I suspect that Larry Kramer’s persistent acting up about Barbra Streisand has little to do with spreading the good word about AIDS and everything to do with his dream of getting one more crack at an Adapted Screenplay Oscar (he had been nominated for 1970’s Women In Love, but lost to Ring Lardner, Jr. who wrote the screenplay for MASH).
He knows that without Barbra, the film may be well received, but not very heavy on buzz, something he’d need to grab a nomination and carry momentum to a victory on Oscar night.
Though he has always maintained that the most important thing was to get the movie made and the story told as urgently as possible,
It was a story that had a message and had to get out fast. I believed it would help change the world. I don’t think that was decent of her to do to me, her gay fans, and the people with AIDS she talks so movingly about. I love her, but she has pissed on this project for ten years.
(try to imagine Barbra urinating!) it’s been Kramer who’s blocked the project at every turn and not hesitated to block and delay until he got what he wanted (usually money and complete creative control). There was the time HBO offered him $250,000 for he rights, and were ready to roll, but he insisted on $1,000,000, at which point HBO walked away.
Also, during workshopping at the Malibu Compound, Kramer refused time and again to accept Barbra’s guidance that the material - a play - needed substantial structural change to transfer into a movie, and rejected a script Barbra commissioned from Richard LaGravenese which Ralph Fiennes and Kenneth Branagh thought was so impressive they were ready to sign on then and there.
And, Streisand also got nowhere with her point that the two brothers at the heart of The Normal Heart - one gay, one straight - had distinct identities and their sexualities were a fundamental point of difference, driving much of the play’s action and emotion. Kramer stood fast, insisting that the two men be framed as “the same”.
This weekend, Kramer sent Barbra raves and notices from the touring production of The Normal Heart and made snarky comments to the media, all of which sounds like his trademark skill at harnessing a famous name (Reagan, Streisand) to graft some free publicity onto himself.
Anyway, read Barbra’s latest reply here (which she warns will be her “last”).