Tuesday, June 22, 2010
LIZA ~ San Francisco Chronicle - interview
David Wiegand, Chronicle Staff Writer
Liza Minnelli is a seemingly unstoppable force in the entertainment world, although, heaven knows, she's had more than her fair share of obstacles along the way.
A child of Hollywood who made her movie debut as an infant in her mother's arms in "In the Good Old Summer Time," Minnelli, 64, survived the drug-dusted Studio 54 heyday, four marriages, including at least one to a gay man, and health problems off and on for years.
Yet she keeps on going, doing TV talk shows like Joy Behar's, guesting on Kathy Griffin's "My Life on the D List," swiveling her recently narrowed hips and covering Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" in the otherwise horrifying "Sex and the City 2," and getting ready to introduce the Liza Collection of fashion and jewelry, inspired by her own stuff, on HSN, which used to call itself the Home Shopping Network.
With a new album ready for release ("Confessions," due in September), she's just begun an extensive national tour which brings her to Livermore's Wente Vineyards on Thursday and back to Davies Symphony Hall in December for one of the San Francisco Symphony's holiday shows.
Despite her film cameos and guest roles on shows including "Arrested Development," Minnelli is best in front of a live audience. As if continuing her mother's vaudeville background as the youngest of the Gumm Sisters (Judy Garland was born Frances Gumm), Minnelli is known for pulling out every stop onstage.
While past shows, including one paying homage to her father, film director Vincente Minnelli, and a more recent one honoring her godmother, Kay Thompson, have often featured Minnelli with large orchestras, many of the dates on her current tour will find her backed by a small combo.
What's it like to work with a smaller ensemble?
"It's wonderful," she gushes by phone from New York. "Just fabulous. It's just five pieces, and that's great for me. It's much more intimate. It's kinda sexy!"
What's on the touring program?
In addition to her signature material - "Cabaret," "New York, New York," "Maybe This Time," as well as other songs not written by Kander and Ebb - Minnelli will offer samples of songs on "Confessions," including "He's Funny That Way," "Confession" and "I Must Have That Man."
"Well," she says, "it's really stuff that I kind of learned when I was little, when I was just a kid. It's ..."
She pauses for a few seconds, searching for words.
"Well, it's just sexy!" she laughs heartily.
Liza Minnelli: 8:15 p.m. Thurs. Wente Vineyards, 5050 Arroyo Road, Livermore. (925) 456-2424. Other upcoming programs include:
Barenaked Ladies on July 20, Huey Lewis and the News, Aug. 10; Chris Isaak, Aug. 19; ZZ Top, Aug. 25; Earth, Wind and Fire, Aug. 30; Willie Nelson, Sept. 13; Harry Connick Jr., Sept. 21. Dinner is served from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets without the dinner option start at $89. Tickets for dinner and the show start at $169 for a buffet dinner and $259 for a four-course dinner with stage-front seating. (925) 456-2424.
Minnelli also will perform with her quartet at 8 p.m. Dec. 5 at Davies Symphony Hall, accompanied by Billy Stritch. Tickets go on sale Monday, July 19 and are priced from $15-$90; www.sfsymphony.org and (415) 864-6000.
E-mail David Wiegand at email@example.com.