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Did Barbra Streisand and Meryl Streep refuse to croon at the Oscars?

April 3, 2009 | 10:39 am

Barbra Streisand and Meryl Streep turned down invitations to participate in the big musical production number staged by Baz Luhrmann at the Oscars, according to a source close to the show.

At least Streep — who was asked to stand up at her seat in the audience and belt out a few bars of "Mamma Mia!" — declined immediately, according to the source. Streisand — who was asked to appear on stage to croon a few bars of "Somewhere" from "West Side Story" — insisted upon being wooed in grand diva style and kept Luhrmann dangling, waiting for her decision, then bowed out. The courtship included Luhrmann going to Streisand's home in Malibu where he "hangs out with her for a while, and almost talks her into it . . . but she drops out at the last moment," said the source who asked not to be identified because he fears backlash from the academy.

Barbra Streisand Meryl Streep OscarsStreisand's rep did not respond to our request for comment. Streep's rep denied that she was asked to perform, but a separate source, one close to Luhrmann's crew, called both diva reports "absolutely true, 100% accurate." When contacted by Gold Derby, Luhrmann did not deny the reports, but politely "declined to comment."

The Oscarcast production number ended up featuring other musical stars: "Dreamgirls" thrush Beyonce Knowles, "High School Musical" sensations Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgensplus "Mamma Mia!" love birds Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper. The segment included song bits from those tuners and "Moulin Rouge" "The Sound of Music," "West Side Story," "Grease," "All that Jazz," "Singing in the Rain" and "The Wizard of Oz." It ended with Oscar host Hugh Jackman proclaiming "the musical is back!" as the audience at the Kodak Theatre leaped to its feet to cheer the spectacle.

Why did Streisand and Streep refuse to join in? Gold Derby asked some ardent fans of both stars, who know their idols' peccadilloes well, to speculate.

"I'll bet you that several things made Babs say 'no,'" said a fan. "When Streisand performs, she doesn't just sing a few bars and she doesn't share the stage. When she did perform at the 1976 ceremony, it was to sing her own composition 'Evergreen' just moments before she and lyricist Paul Williams won the Oscar for best song. Also, she's always worried about how she looks, especially performing live. When Streisand filmed her concerts, she was in charge of the lighting and camera set-ups. This self-confessed control freak would have to cede that territory to the Oscar crew. She would not be able to show herself off in the most flattering light and that is especially a problem for her now that she has packed on a few pounds and can't seem to lose them."

The second source cited above says Streep told Luhrmann "no" because her schedule couldn't accommodate rehearsal time, but a fan offered his own speculation: "Streep isn't comfortable singing live in public. She doesn't do concerts. She only sings in the controlled environment of a recording studio, so Baz's request probably freaked her out."


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Photos: Associated Press, Universal Pictures

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The comments to this entry are closed.


Your site and your comments are becoming almost as ludicrous as National Enquirer. Don't fabricate stories if there's nothing to report.

Barbra is a Diva only in the best and most flattering sense of the word. She is the ultimate talent in the entertainment world.

I'm so happy Meryl said NO!
I suppose that both Meryl and Barbra just didn't accept because the number was awful! They had Hugh Jackman, but the rest of the 'cast' were really ridiculous and the whole medley was a mess.

Anyway, I'll use the opportunity to once again attack the show's producers for them pretending something and doing the opposite: it was supposed to be about the FILMS OF THE YEAR and the actual ORIGINAL SONG nominees lasted for 90 seconds, while they had a 6 MINUTES LONG MEDLEY! That was awful and did show NO respect for the song writers!

(And once again, each acting presentation LASTED for nearly 10 MINUTES!!! and they had a representative of a whole crew thank in the technical categories. Again, NO RESPECT!)

if these reports are true (who knows), those two "divas" (as you like to call them) really dodged a bullet there. the number was a mess.

The claim Streep isn't comfortable singing in public is just ludicrous... as Michelle pointed out there are many examples of Meryl singing in public. She has also appeared on stage in two musicals "Happy End" and "Alice In Concert" (winning an Obie to boot). So I think we can totally discount that particular Streep "fan" quoted in the article - he/she had no idea about Streep's career and clearly wasn't much of a fan at all!!

As for Streisand - the woman has nearly five decades experience in musical events - theatre, film, television, concerts and even the odd music video. I imagine Baz showed Barbra the concept and alarm bells went off... I bet she sensed "DUD" right away!

Incidentally who the hell thought Baz Luhrmann was the right man to stage a musical extravangza onstage? (doing one musical film and an opera or two aren't really the same skill set) The choppy, ridiculous mess of a medley proved musical staging is most definitel NOT his forte.... they should've gotten Rob Marshall or one of the Broadway hotshots like Susan Stroman or Jerry Mitchell - people who actually know how to stage a musical number.

Luhrmann clearly didn't have a clue!!!

Streisand performed at the Emmy in honor of the victims of 9/11. She wasn't a "control freak" about that. These kinds of stories always start out because someone didn't get what they wanted and start stories just to be spiteful.

I keep hearing that Streisand is very much a diva! If she were to sing at the Oscars she would definitely do it her way. Leave Meryl alone. She is a class act. and defintely not a diva. She was nominated for best actress and so maybe she would have been too nervous.

Umm, are we forgetting that Streisand performed during the Emmy telecast that followed 9/11? And must we throw titles like Diva and Control Freak when discussing how one controls the quality of their art? Gee!

Besides Tom, you forgot the most obvious reason neither wanted to do it, the concept and execution sucked.

decline does not equal refuse

I can't even imagine Babs dangling Baz. You would think she would of said no immediately.

Meryl has sung numerous times live on stage recently. She sang in Mother Courage in the summer of 2006 in Central Park as well as several apperances of a Praire Home Companion radio show whicj is in front of a live audience. She also has sung at the Kennedy Center honors, the Mothers and Others concert in 1989 as well as several other times I will not list here. I believe the schedule conflict response was 100% accurate as Meryl is had just started shooting a movie right before the Oscars. I wish she would have been able to participate, but to call her a diva ?? That is the first word I would use to describe Barbara, but NEVER, EVER Meryl Streep !!



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