During Seth Meyers’ opening monologue, it was difficult to ignore the two empty seats directly in front of the stage, next to Oprah Winfrey and partner Stedman Graham. As?it turned out, those seats — temporarily filled by Gayle King and another guest — belonged to Barbra Streisand and husband James Brolin, who were running late to the telecast.
Upon their arrival, inside sources at HFPA wiped their foreheads in relief, as in?the days leading up to the show it wasn’t clear that Babs would make it at all.
Her breathy voice while presenting best picture, drama, was due to “a bad case of laryngitis,”?a source said, adding that HFPA tried to kill her illness with kindness by sending her a large bouquet of flowers daily for several days, each with a notecard quoting lyrics from one of her famous songs. Maybe that’s why she came out attempting to get the crowd to sit down during their standing ovation by explaining, “I’m not going to sing.”
A version of this story appears in the Jan. 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.