Liz Smith: Robert Redford Talks ‘The Way We Were’ Sequel

courtesy Robin Platzer

And more from our Gossip Girl: Natalie Portman — swanning to Oscar? … Harvey Weinstein vs. “The Social Network” … Remembering the great Jack LaLanne

“OH, GOD, please don’t start a sentence, with ‘Look”— it’s always bad news!”

That’s one of the many famous quotes from the super-duper Barbra Streisand/Robert Redford 1973 romance, “The Way We Were.” This was a movie that had more women weeping at the bittersweet finale than they had after Barbra broke up with Omar Sharif in “Funny Girl”— torrents of tears!

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OR YEARS — in fact, seconds after the movie was released and became a huge hit — there’s been talk of a sequel. The idea was never far from the minds of both Streisand and Redford.

And even now, with Bob at 74 and Babs at 65, the continuance of the Katie/Hubbell story is still on medium burn. At the Sundance Film Festival, which Redford oversees each year, the actor said of a sequel: “Yes, to me that would be an interesting love story. To see these people — who had this sexual passion, tremendous heat that led them into marriage — grow apart and mature … and then come back together again. That appeals to me a lot.”

Apparently, it even appeals to the rather distracted Miss Streisand, who would rather spend time at her beautiful home, with her beautiful husband James Brolin, and make movies that require no effort, like “Little Fockers.” (Of course, she still expends a lot of energy on politics, and we can expect more of that as the 2012 election nears.)   Redford said, “She had a good idea about the story.”

So, there’s hope for Barbra the mature actress. As you know, she’s also mulling a remake of “Gypsy.”

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I went to see “Black Swan” again in Manhattan on one of those frigid days we’ve all been having lately — and I felt sorry for the Kips Bay movie house, because the place seemed absolutely deserted and the theater I entered was empty. But about ten minutes before the film began, the theater began filling with young girls – and a few young men. With “Black Swan,” we entered an erotic, psychotic and beautifully filmed adventure — and thousands are having this experience. (Click here to see this column’s original review of “Black Swan.”)

“Black Swan” gave me a new appreciation of actress Natalie Portman, a big talent that the British press seems intent on tearing down. Never mind!

Natalie was born in Jerusalem, moved to Washington when she was only three, grew up in a small town in Long Island, was “discovered” at age ten emerging from a pizza parlor and became a model; then on to the theater, where she scored off-Broadway in “Ruthless!” The rest is history.

She just won the Golden Globe as best actress and will doubtless be up for the Oscar come February 27. I was ready for Natalie Portman to become a huge star. When I met her at the time she was promoting “V is for Vendetta,” I found her shy, adorable, and a girl with very good manners. And I thought she was just wonderful under Mike Nichols’ direction in “Closer.”

The British press seems to be willfully waiting for Natalie to self-destruct from success. They refer to her as “Hollywood’s most grounded starlet,” saying she “forsook Harvard for a world of obsession, cruelty and eroticism.” (Hey, she’s an actress; she didn’t write the movie “Black Swan,” merely agreed to star in it, suffering months of ballet pain, exercise and dieting.)

Miss Portman’s detractors simply hate that she is smart and well-educated. They can’t forgive her for being a vegan, and say she gets beyond herself by attempting to solve the Middle East crisis, talking international matters with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the late Afghanistan expert Richard Holbrooke, and meeting the President at the White House.

Better she should be a druggie, in and out of jail, or filling the pages of the weekly scandal tabloids than just being the gorgeous adult success she has become!

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P.S. Portman was charming this past Sunday when she was interviewed on CBS’s morning show. When asked about the diversity of her roles and her lack of a defined “public image,” Portman said she didn’t feel “people should know very much about me. I’m rather boring anyway. It’s better they feel they ‘know’ me through my work.” This is a revolutionary approach to success as a movie star these days, but it seems to be working for Natalie Portman.

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AS THE race for Oscar heats up, so does the rivalry between “Social Network” producer Scott Rudin and “The King’s Speech” big guy, Harvey Weinstein.

The Hollywood Reporter (my “must read” entertainment magazine) describes them as “the industry’s two mastodons!” Despite Rudin’s slight edge, author Stephen Galloway insists: “When it comes to winning the top prize — best picture — Harvey can still pull it off. Just.” The writer observes that despite the publicity surrounding the far more entertaining Golden Globe ceremonies and awards, “It’s easy to forget how rarely they and the Oscars align.”

In summation, this article places a win for “The King’s Speech” squarely on the massive shoulders of my favorite mogul, Harvey. Especially if H.W. truly retrieves his sometimes intimidating mojo. (He has been far less combustive and in-your-face recently, despite spending a good deal of money to promote his film.)  “Enough with Mr. Nice Guy, Harvey!” exclaims The Hollywood Reporter. “Bring back Tyrannosaurus Rex.”

Indeed, the big show biz carnivore is back. “The King’s Speech” was the upset winner of Best Picture from the Producer’s Guild of America.

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FAREWELL TO the wonderful and inspiring Jack LaLanne, who died the other day at 96, still in splendid shape, still working out nearly to the end.

I interviewed this guy not many years ago, and he was an incredible person — what a positive outlook! Jack became a legend, had a great life and accomplished everything he set out to do. I just wish he’d been able to celebrate his 100th birthday, decked out in his famous one-piece, body-hugging exercise get-up. What a guy! I know he’s up there right now, encouraging St. Peter to take a break from guarding the gates and do a few sit-ups.

17 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

    Be still my heart!  A sequel to “The Way We Were”.  If it can happen, I hope it does.  I am also doing the hope it happens “Gypsy” dance!  I am really moving these days!  Haha!

  2. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    A sequel to “The Way we Were”???? Do that and you can bet that the ending of the first film will never be as poignant as it is today? Yes, people wept over the ending. It was classic and it was how the love story was supposed to end. It made sense, and the reason the film did do so very well. Why destroy that with Redford, 74, and Streisand, 65, together again? They had a great on screen romance but, per the story line…they were only together a few years in the mid 1940’s….not a lifetime. Now, if the two reunite in a rest home after all these decades and go “The Notebook” route…that may make a decent story. But anything more contemporary than that will take away for the original. Those under 40 should see the original film and ‘feel’ the last scene, just the way we did in 1973… not knowing than there is a part two. Some films should never have a sequel. This is one of them. Are screen writers really running out of ideas? Instead of “The Way we Were” it would need to be titled, “The Way we Are” and I like how they were when they were briefly reunited (story line) in 1960…and then life went on for the both of them.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      The ending of The Way We Were is so haunting that I cannot imagine any sequel not ruining what was and is one of the great moments of film. So many emotions in that final scene. So many things both perhaps wanted to say but couldn’t.  A sadness beyond words. Both loved each other deeply. But simply were on different paths in life. And so they went their separate ways.  But always, obviously, remembering the way they were. If they do a sequel, I will not watch it.  As for the final scene, well, so many of us have been there. And knew the pain of saying goodbye a second time. Not wanting to. 

      Sequels work for some films. This is not one of them.

  3. avatar rick gould says:

    I think it would be great to see Streisand in a serious film.
    Just as I think it’s been too long since Redford’s been onscreen.
    But having Streisand play Mama Rose at age 69 is absurd.
    And doing a sequel to “The Way We Were,” a movie that came out in 1973, seems like a stretch, too!
    Put them in something original, if such a thing still exists in Hollywood!

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      Put them in something original, if such a thing still exists in Hollywood!
      You do have to wonder why there are so many remakes and sequels. Perhaps the answer is in lazy writers, directors and actors.  Best to leave well enough alone.  Sequels work for some films. But doesn’t work for others. And this, again, is one of them that it won’t work.

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear Baby…and it won’t happen. This is just yak yak yak, as it has been since 1973. 

        Nobody wants to see Katie and Hubbell a gazillion years later.  I sure don’t!   I saw “The Way We Were” five times in its first run.  There were flaws, particularly the last 20 minutes or so, but…it was still damn glam moviemaking, and Barbra was very good crying on cue.  (Even in the famous phone scene, where she hid her face because she didn’t like the way she looked, weeping.) 
        This is one of those things that will never happen.  Thank God.  I’d rather see her in “Gypsy.”  Or “Macbeth”  (What–did Shakepeare say Lady M. was such a gentile?)

  4. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Jack LaLanne was proof positive that you can grow old and feel young by keeping active both mentally and physically and watching the diet.

    My mother was one of the “Harriets” who after sending “Ozzie” off to work and the kids to school turned on the television and exercised with Jack LaLanne. One day she had the chair too close to a table and broke a toe. As soon as the toe healed, she was back with Jack LaLanne. Just more careful about where she put the chair.  The way we were indeed.  They were different times back then. Nicer times looking back.

  5. avatar Count Snarkula says:

    No, just no, to a sequel to ‘The Way We Were’.  It ends sadly, as it must.  Love is not enough.  There must be more in common.  (And please don’t ask the Count how he knows this).  Barbra as Mama Rose huh?  But wouldn’t we all much rather see it on the stage?  Or is that just me?  Its probably all rumor anyway.  Remember when everyone was talking about Barbra as Auntie Mame and Cher as Vera?  Nothing came of it.  (though I secretly think that could have been awesome!)

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Count…I thinkl you are right on all counts.

      However…nobody on this earth could embody Mame as did Miss Roz Russell. (Tho the screen version was much watered down from the novel, which was incredible.)

      • avatar Count Snarkula says:

        Oh thank you Mr. Wow!  I agree.  I am lucky enough to have a first edition of that novel that belonged to my Grandmere.  I also, when I read ‘Around The World With Auntie Mame’, picture Roz.  She and Angela Landsbury really WERE Mame.  And no matter what anyone says, Bea Arthur WAS Vera!  Thank you so much for responding to my comment!

        • avatar Baby Snooks says:

          Maybe they should do a “digital” remake of Auntie Mame. Rosalind Russell as Mame.  Bea Arthur as Vera Charles. 

          I have often wondered what possessed Lucille Ball.  She certainly added a new dimension to cinematography. Shooting through gauze takes about 40 years off.  Maybe if she hadn’t tried to sing. 

  6. avatar Paul Smith says:

    For years, I never got the movie.  And then that omnipresent song.  Frankly, I’ve always thought it was odd that Robert R. hooked up with Barbra S.  I mean, a “driveby” but a geniune commitment? Everything struck me as unlikely from the start. 

    • avatar Count Snarkula says:

      Its not always about looks.  Sometimes there is chemistry that you cannot avoid.  Obviously that has not happened to you.  I hope one day it does.  Its bittersweet, but worth experiencing.

      • avatar Paul Smith says:

        What chemistry?  I saw and felt none.  Differences in looks was the least of it.  Only in the movies.

  7. avatar rick gould says:

    The last I read on “Mame” was a TV remake of the musical with Cher as Mame, right after her Believe comeback in 2000. Or was that after her 2,000th comeback? 😉
    But Cher was pretty ambivalent as SHE loves the Roz Russell version, too… tho that was the non-musical. The musical starred Lucille Ball in the early ’70s with Russell commenting at the time that Lucy was too old and that Cher would have had the right “pizzaz” as Russell put it… Why I remember these things…
    Lots of talks of remakes lately! Pretty much all of them ridiculous!

  8. avatar Jay Gentile says:

    The Way We Were is one of my favorite movies of all time. But I have two words for Ms. Streisand and Mr. Redford: “Funny Lady.”

  9. avatar Deni says:

    I was watching the View and they were talking about Robert Redford being too old to get a movie deal.  He’s just as gorgeous now as when he was young.  He’s just mature and at 55 (me) I’d go see him in any movie, like Kevin Costner, Richard Gere. These are my ideas of male movie stars, there mature and still make my heart pound a little faster.  Let our daughters have their heart throbs like we had ours, but don’t let our heart throbs not work because they’ve gotten older, like a fine wine, THEY’VE JUST GOTTEN BETTER.