Streisand writing about house, pondering memoir

By Hillel Italie

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Barbra Streisand has finished building her dream house and started to think about her life.

The singer, director and actress has reached an agreement with Viking for "A Passion for Design," an illustrated book scheduled for fall 2010 that includes photos of the Malibu, Calif., oceanfront compound she worked on for more than five years, and of other residences, back to her early years in New York.

In writing about where she lives (the book is expected to have up to 50,000 words of text), she has been writing about herself "because I’m spurred on by the writing process," Streisand said during a brief telephone interview with the Associated Press.


Long reluctant to discuss her private life, the 67-year-old Streisand said she has been working on chapters, in longhand, for a separate book. But she hasn’t made up her mind whether she will complete the memoir and publish it.

"I go back and forth," said Streisand, who has received numerous show business honors, including Academy Awards, Grammys and Emmys. "Do I really want to write about my life? Do I really want to relive my life? I’m not sure."

But she is deeply committed to her current project, calling it the culmination of a lifelong passion for American architecture and design. She spoke of visiting landmarks around the country, from the Monticello estate of Thomas Jefferson in Virginia to Edith Wharton’s house in Lenox, Mass. — The Mount, which Streisand explored with camera and tape measure.

She sees the book as answering questions she has often asked herself: Why is she so fascinated by furniture, gardens and how homes are constructed? Why was she buying antique clothing as a teenager? Why, in the basement of her new house, did she reproduce a city street? Why did she even write a script about her home?

"As a filmmaker even, I got very involved in set production and design and colors," said Streisand, a known perfectionist whose directing credits include "Yentl" and "The Prince of Tides."

The deal with Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), was negotiated by Robert Barnett, better known as the literary representative for political leaders, including President Obama and former President George W. Bush. Barnett says he met Streisand through mutual friends and Barnett clients — former President Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Financial terms were not disclosed. Viking President Clare Ferraro, who declined to say how much the publisher paid, said she visited Streisand’s home in April, a planned two-hour stop that lasted 4 1/2 hours and didn’t begin to cover all that Streisand had done.

"Everything is perfect, down to the flowers, to the metal plates on the doorknobs," Ferraro said. "I remember her living room. The color scheme was in pink and burgundy and green and if you looked out the window you saw there were roses in the same color. And throughout the house, the outside matched what was inside.


"It’s just breathtaking, her whole house. I went home and ripped the flower bed out of my porch because the flowers didn’t match my porch furniture."

Ferraro said Streisand will "get pretty personal" in the book, saying that she likely will offer childhood experiences and stories about her career. "She discovers a lot about herself through her passion for design and fashion," Ferraro said.

Married to actor James Brolin, her second husband, Streisand said she wants to get back into filmmaking after setting her career aside to work on her house. She is hoping to obtain rights to Larry Kramer’s play "A Normal Heart," a story she has been interested in for years, and has recruited some "interesting cast members" whom she declined to identify.

"This house has taken a lot out of me," she said. "It was a project. Instead of directing a movie, I built a house. And it’s so much more complex than doing a movie."

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