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Barbra, can you hear me?

Haas recalls excitement when Streisand offered her part of Golda

Award-winning Israeli actress will portray Israel’s only female prime minister in the upcoming TV series ‘Lioness’ produced by Hollywood icon

Israeli actress Shira Haas receives the prize for Best Supporting Actress at the 2018 Ophir Awards, sometimes called the Israeli Oscars, in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, September 6, 2018. (Flash90)
Israeli actress Shira Haas receives the prize for Best Supporting Actress at the 2018 Ophir Awards, sometimes called the Israeli Oscars, in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, September 6, 2018. (Flash90)

That phone call from Barbra Streisand was “one of the most exciting phone calls ever, if not the,” Israel’s newest international celebrity, actress Shira Haas, recalled in a weekend interview.

Haas, 26, best known internationally for her star turn in Netflix’s “Unorthodox,” will portray Israel’s only female prime minister, Golda Meir, in an upcoming TV series produced by Streisand.

“Lioness,” produced by MGM/UA Television, is based on the book of the same name by Francine Klagsbrun. It marks Streisand’s first foray into scripted TV work.

Haas was in Hollywood in late February for the Golden Globes, which took place on February 28, some two months late and mostly online due to COVID restrictions.

In Los Angeles, Haas, who was up for a “Best Performance in a Miniseries or Television Film” award for her portrayal of Esther Shapiro in Unorthodox, was approached by a number of Hollywood producers about additional roles.

One of those producers: 79-year-old Streisand, an icon of Hollywood royalty.

President Shimon Peres with Barbra Streisand at Peres’s 90th birthday party, June 19, 2013. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

In an interview published by Channel 12 news over the weekend, Haas said she chose Streisand’s “Lioness” project over the competition.

She recalled Streisand’s matter-of-fact friendliness when she called her back later from Tel Aviv to let her know.

“It started with ‘hello.’ It was wonderfully friendly,” she said. “[Streisand] asked, ‘Where are you?’ I said, ‘I’m here, in Tel Aviv.'”

Asked about portraying a woman generally remembered as an elder stateswoman of Israel, Haas pointed out, “Golda wasn’t always 70 years old. She was a young woman with dreams, like us all.”

According to a March report by Deadline, “Lioness” will follow Meir’s story from “her birth in Kyiv to her American upbringing in Milwaukee, her role in the formation of Israel and her rise to become the new nation’s first and only female prime minister.”

Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel, is shown as a young woman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, circa 1915. Meir was born Golda Mabovitch. (AP Photo)

“One of the things that frustrates us is that there are so many incredible women in history whose stories have not been told,” co-producer Denise Di Novi told Deadline back in 2018 after acquiring rights to the book.

“Golda Meir is one of the greatest and most prominent figures in world history and her entire life as a wife, mother, teacher and creator of a country in one of the most complicated nations in the world should be told.”

The author of the book “Lioness,” Klagsbrun, has worked on and written about feminist Jewish issues for decades, and through the Women of the Wall activist group is known as the first woman to carry a Torah to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The show will be written by “Handmaid’s Tale” writer Eric Tuchman and directed by Mimi Leder, a Jewish filmmaker known for her work on shows such as “ER” and “The Leftovers.” Leder also directed “On the Basis of Sex,” the 2018 biopic about the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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