Barbra Streisand and writer/gay activist Larry Kramer have launched into a war of words over their failed attempt to turn his 1985 Aids epidemic play The Normal Heart into a new movie.
Streisand has attacked Kramer in a new Entertainment Weekly interview, and the playwright has responded by blaming the diva for holding up the adaptation.
Calling Kramer "brilliant, courageous, stubborn, and self-destructive," Streisand states, "I love this play, and I love its cause... I was using the best of it. But there are certain things you do for film. Larry only wanted to use his screenplay. I couldn't have my hands tied artistically."
But the writer claims Streisand rewrote the script to make her character the star.
He says, "She cut (lead character) Ned's part so much that when she offered the movie to a major star who had played the part on stage, he said, 'I can't play this. The character has no motivation anymore'... She subsumed all of the motivations into her part, as the doctor."
Following up after hearing his claims, Streisand adds, "Larry's claim that I wanted to expand the role of the doctor to make her the star and marginalise the gay characters is nonsense."
The actress/director, who purchased the film rights to The Normal Heart after seeing its original Off Broadway incarnation in 1985 and then spent 10 years working with Kramer and another screenwriter to adapt the story, also claims the playwright rejected a deal from executives at TV network HBO to turn the play into a TV project after major studios balked at its subject matter.
She adds, "Larry wouldn't accept their highest offer of $250,000. He wanted a million dollars. Larry held out for the money. I didn't. Why not advance your cause? Why keep this movie unseen for all these years?"
Kramer claims he never heard about such an offer and says Streisand repeatedly abandoned the project to work on other movies.
He says, "She's a mighty force, and I certainly agree she has done a good deal for the gay world. She just wasn't going to make this movie right."
It now looks like Glee creator Ryan Murphy will be directing the film - and Streisand may still be onboard to play the doctor role she was slated to play, opposite Mark Ruffalo.
She's still passionate about the drama: "If I could direct it today, I would direct it today, because it has been very hard for me to find a piece that I feel as passionate about. I mean, I love this play."