Who's ready for her close-up in new `Sunset Boulevard' film?

CELEBRITY NEWS

August 20, 2007|By LIZ SMITH | LIZ SMITH,TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

DO you believe what you read in the English papers? If so, you'll believe that Glenn Close, Barbra Streisand and Meryl Streep are all elbowing and shoving in order to win the coveted role of a lifetime. That is to play the silent-screen actress Norma Desmond in the eventual movie version of the musical Sunset Boulevard.

In this triumvirate, Streep, an Oscar winner many times over, is the youngest contender - she's 58. Her good friend Close is 60. And superstar Streisand is 65 and now riding high after a moneymaking concert-tour abroad.

I don't think any of our Big Three is elbowing or even jockeying. They are probably fatalistic about the project and philosophical as to which one will get it. I suppose this friendly "contest" has more or less been going on for the 14 years since the 1994 musical version of the famed Billy Wilder film noir opened on Broadway. Every actress wants to portray Norma Desmond, who utters those immortal words, "I'm still big. It's the pictures that got small," plus "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!" (And many talents have played Norma on the stage - the aforesaid Ms. Close, who had a triumph in L.A. and on Broadway. Patti LuPone, Betty Buckley, Elaine Paige, Rita Moreno and Petula Clark also starred as Norma. Faye Dunaway tried but failed vocally.)

Producer and multimillionaire musician Andrew Lloyd Webber, plus his book writers, Don Black and Christopher Hampton, say that Glenn, Barbra and Meryl are on their list. All three can sing. But it is believed that Paramount, which owns the rights to the original 1950 film, favors Streep. Her recent successes, including The Devil Wears Prada, have been at this studio.

And there's always talk that another stage production of Sunset will be mounted. Ms. Streisand would never again agree to a stage role with a long run. (Several years in Funny Girl cured her of that.) And maybe Ms. Streep wouldn't either. Glenn has already done it, and now she's a TV star. The movie version is something else. Any one of them will jump at the chance for Norma's immortality.

Speaking of Babs

Incidentally, Streisand not only sold out all four of her United Kingdom concerts, but also her CD The Essential Barbra Streisand (circa 2002) is back on the UK charts. Her Greatest Hits CD and two new recordings are No. 12 there. She also set house records in Paris, Zurich, Vienna and Berlin.

So the rumors of Ms. Streisand's "death" at the box office as a result of over-priced tickets was greatly exaggerated. In fact, it was downright wrong.

Small-screen Star

In recent TV commercials, there's a woman who bears no resemblance to Star Jones, late of The View. This slim, trim female says she is Star Jones, although she sure doesn't look like the full-figured Star we remember. She's quite intimidating onscreen, insisting she's the real deal, that she "doesn't intend to hold anything back," that she'll be telling the whole truth and nothing but. (Really? Nobody does that on TV.)

Anyway, if I had ever crossed the original Star Jones, I'd be shaking in my boots waiting to find out what she won't be holding back. This show bows Wednesday on Court TV.

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