Streisand takes on women film critics at feminist luncheon

By FRANK SANELLO, UPI Entertainment Reporter  |  May 31, 1984
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LOS ANGELES -- Barbra Streisand in an acceptance speech for an award presented by a feminist film group Thursday used the opportunity to complain about female movie critics who panned her recent film 'Yentl.'

'I wanted women to review my film, but the harshest comments were made by women,' she told members of Women in Film, a support group for film and TV professionals, at a $100-a-plate luncheon at the Century Plaza Hotel.

'I was surprised by the petty, superficial quality of the criticism,' she said. 'It started me thinking about women's jealousy of other women.'

Miss Streisand said she knew that at functions like the awards luncheon she was supposed to discuss women supporting women, 'but I want to talk about women against women.'

Mary Tyler Moore and Emmy-winning cinematographer Brianne Murphy were also presented WIF's 8th Annual Crystal Awards for professional achievement in the entertainment industry.

Miss Moore could not attend the luncheon because she was shooting a film in Canada, but the actress sent a filmed thank-you speech which was screened at the gala.

Miss Murphy, the only female member of the cameraman's union, in her acceptance speech recounted her early days breaking into the male stronghold of cinematography.

'In the early '60s, producers would call up and ask to speak to 'Brian' Murphy. I'd lower my voice on the phone and get the job. When I showed up on the set it was too late to fire me,' she told the sell-out crowd over 1,800 men and women.

The cinematographer, who has worked on films and TV's 'Little House on the Prairie,' and who was presented her award by the series' star, Michael Landon, scoffed at the old belief that 'You can't put too many women on the film set -- They'll fight.'

Miss Moore echoed that feeling in her acceptance speech and said 'It's bye-bye time to the myth that women are destructively competitive with each other.'

Her award was accepted by long-time friend and TV co-star Valerie Harper, who played Rhoda on 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show.'

The luncheon dais was packed with a who's who of both sexes of the enterainment industry: James Brooks, the Oscar-winning writer-director of 'Terms of Endearment' and co-creator of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show;' NBC programming chief Brandon Tartikoff; Marilyn Bergman, who co-wrote the songs for 'Yentl;' Lynne Litman, producer-director of 'Testament;' and studio executives Alan Ladd, Jr., Marcia Nasatir, Brandon Stoddard and Barry Diller.

At a news conference before the luncheon, Miss Streisand said, 'Sexism is pandemic in the film industry,' and said it had hurt her career and her life.

She agreed that her failure to receive an Oscar nomination for 'Yentl,' which she produced, co-wrote, directed and starred in, was also partially due to sexism, but 'I feel it was actually more beneficial not to be nominated. It brought the lack of women filmmakers to the fore ... or maybe people didn't like the film.

'Why is it men are permitted to be obssessed about their work, but why is it only permitted for women to be obssessed about men,' she asked.

Miss Streisand speculated that all the studios that turned her down on 'Yentl' feared that a woman and an actress could not be financially responsible for a big budget film.

In her acceptance speech, she conceded that 'Yentl' went 11 percent over budget, but said the film had grossed four times its cost.

Women in Film was founded in 1973 by Tichi Wilkerson, owner of the Hollywood Reporter. It has been presenting the Crystal Awards since 1977. Past recipients include Lucille Ball, Shirley MacLaine, Lillian Gish, Carol Burnett, Jane Fonda, Bette Davis and Cicely Tyson.

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