Barbra Streisand Was ‘So Insecure’ She Demanded Her Own Lighting Designer on This Daytime Talk Show
Celebrities are allowed to make certain requests of venues and hotels when they’re performing. They may ask that only a certain colored M&M be in their dressing room, or that they be provided bottled water from one particular stream in Switzerland.
The legend that has followed icon Barbra Streisand in regards to her own requests is her insistence on being filmed from a certain side of her face.
Here’s what the lighting director flown in for her appearance on a wildly popular daytime show had to say about her requests and how insecure she had grown through the course of her career.
Barbara Streisand has a ‘good side’
It’s a well-known fact by now that the legendary singer and actor won’t appear on anyone’s shows unless it’s guaranteed that she will be filmed from the left side of her face only.
Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel told Andy Cohen in 2019 on the latter’s What What Happens Live that he at one time had Streisand booked on his show. Until she asked in advance of the show to switch seats with him.
Kimmel told Cohen he was fine with it, as long as he could joke about it during her appearance, namely because it would be glaringly obvious to the audience that an enormous change had taken place on the set. The Guilty singer cancelled her appearance.
“It was the condition,” Kimmel explained. “The condition was we couldn’t talk about the fact that we’d switched around, and I was like, ‘I just don’t see how this will work.’”
The lighting director speaks
In a 2001 conversation with the Archive of American Television, lighting industry expert Bill Klages spoke at length about his career. He’s worked with countless celebrities from Liza Minnelli to Muhammad Ali and also was hired for John F. Kennedy’s inauguration.
He described his experience in receiving a call to fly out to arrange lighting for Barbra Streisand’s 1997 appearance on The Rosie O’Donnell Show.
“A couple of years ago, I got a call from The Rosie O’Donnell Show. They said, ‘Barbra Streisand is coming on the Rosie Show and she’s not bringing a lighting man. Somebody suggested that you might be able to come and light her on [the show].”
He explained that he was flown in to handle Streisand’s lighting needs for the show and marveled at how well the singer looked since the last time he’d seen her.
“When you see Barbra today, she looks terrific considering her age, everything, she looks beautiful,” he said. “But what has happened to her is that she had become so insecure in her ability to appear and to be gracious, that I had to be here for Rosie.”
Streisand’s ‘mind puzzles’
Klages went on to say that the work for that particular episode of The Rosie O’Donnell Show wasn’t straightforward or easy. It involved getting the lighting just right for Streisand, and the lighting specialist seemed to be restraining his words to avoid saying outright that it was not a pleasant experience for him or his crew.
“We went through a lot of mind puzzles to get her lighting to appear right,” he said. “All of which I predicted and all which came from a basic insecurity on her part. Once she got on [the air], she was ok, she was fine, she was Barbra Streisand.”
Klages had worked with Streisand earlier in her career and noted that “people do change. She was no longer the little 18-year-old in the corner. She had a lot to say.”