“Funny Girl and the Gagman: No Sale”
September 17, 1999, 1:00am

Barbra Streisand doesn’t mind paying for
jokes — but, as in all things, she wants a bargain.

The last time she went on tour, the
deal-diva asked star gag-writer Bruce Vilanch to work up some stage
banter. But when it came to talking money, the singer offered Vilanch a wage he found “ridiculously low.”

Vilanch, who has written for Robin Williams,
Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, and practically every awards show,
said no way. Streisand asked, “Well, what should I do?”

Vilanch told the antiques maven: “Sell a lamp.”

He didn’t end up writing for her tour. But
now that Streisand is unloading some of her home furnishings at
Christie’s she’s apparently ready to meet his price. After the
premiere of his documentary “Get Bruce” Wednesday night, Vilanch
told us that Babs has asked him to scribble some shtick for her New
Year’s Eve extravaganza in Vegas.


The following letter was sent to George Rush at the NY Daily News:

Your September 17 story on why Bruce Vilanch has not written comedy
material for Barbra Streisand is thoroughly in error. The real and
only reason he hasn’t contributed material for any of her
professional engagements is that…he wasn’t asked to. According to
Ms. Streisand’s manager, Martin Erlichman, who would have conducted
any negotiations, none ever occurred. You must understand that in his
career-long representation of Ms. Streisand, only Mr. Erlichman
(never his client) has negotiated on her behalf. Other than a couple
of lines at award shows where he was the writer, the only time Mr.
Vilanch worked with Ms. Streisand was a charity event honoring David
Foster when they collaborated on her comments. There have been no
discussions between Mr. Erlichman and Mr. Vilanch concerning any
concert performances, so it follows that there were never any
discussions of money. By the way, Mr. Erlichman has tried to reach
Mr. Vilanch to refresh his memory, but has not heard back from him.