by Pat Cerasaro
Last week I had a true Broadway baby's dream come true by having the thrill of interviewing not only one of the best interview subjects (check out her episode of INSIDE THE ACTOR'S STUDIO for further proof of that) but also one of the very greatest and most highly-rewarded stars in Hollywood and Broadway history, the recipient of the Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, multiple Tony Awards and Hollywood Royalty like none other before or since: Miss Liza Minnelli. In this special preview of a much longer interview which will go live in a few weeks, we discuss her revealing and intimate new studio album CONFESSIONS featuring a riveting "At Last", her impressions and opinions on Lady Gaga and Beyonce, as well as discussing her blockbuster HSN Liza Collection success, the recent Snickers commercial with Aretha Franklin, GLEE, and much, much more. Plus, some stories about her father, director of GIGI and AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, Vincente Minnelli; as well as her mother, Judy Garland, by most accounts the greatest star in Hollywood history and as popular today as ever thanks to THE WIZARD OF OZ. Liza Minnelli has conquered every arena of entertainment and in the complete discussion she opens up and reveals fascinating, absorbing and electrifying new sides to her legendary, starry and incomparable career on stage and on screen. Even more coming soon, but here are some comments on her recent achievements and new insights, plus a look at her new album!
If you were lucky enough to catch the 2009 Tony Awards, you know that even on the stage of Radio City MusicAl Hall with a cast of over a hundred people - some even in green monster costumes, and some nearly-naked hippies - there was one true star on that stage that shone brighter than the sun. It was Liza Minnelli and she won her umpteenth Tony Award that night - as well deserved as any of them, perhaps even more considering everything she has gone through in the last ten years. Or her whole life. She has never had it easy and it is because of that - that survivor modus operandi - that she can be a hero and a friend, a poet and a pal, dressed to the nines but never above the sixes and sevens. Resilience personified. She is proof positive that the best and most talented people can rise to the top, but only if they are indomitable. She is and always will be. With that and with a Z.
As if any of Miss Minnelli's credits needed repeating - they don't - but a cursory film overview would include CABARET, THE STERILE CUCKOO, LIZA WITH A Z, NEW YORK, NEW YORK and ARTHUR, as well as hundreds of concerts, television specials, concert albums, studio albums, cast albums, soundtracks, DVDs and, first and foremost, her many appearances on Broadway: from FLORA THE RED MENACE to CHICAGO to THE RINK to VICTOR/VICTORIA and 2009's truly remarkable LIZA‘S AT THE PALACE! Be sure to pick up any of these titles you may not be familiar with - and also check out some of her lesser known work such as her television special with Goldie Hawn, the triptych TV musical-movie SAM FOUND OUT, her cameo on My Chemical Romance's BLACK PARADE and her many appearances on the cult hit television comedy ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT which is rumored to be leaping to the big screen soon. It is impossible to ever get enough of Miss Minnelli, but here is a tiny taste of what awaits in September both in the complete InDepth InterView: Liza Minnelli and the CONFESSIONS album itself (plus the detailed review and features on it and the illustrious career of Miss Minnelli)! The future looks bright for Broadway babies everywhere!
PC: Your new album, CONFESSIONS, is divine and sublime. It's so intimate and cool.
LM: Thank you. I loved making it.
PC: I heard you recorded a lot of while recovering from back surgery.
LM: I did!
PC: It gives new meaning to "Liza's Back!"
LM: Oh, that's too funny! (Laughs.)
PC: I am in love with the first song and the last song most of all.
LZ: Oh, really? They're both so great.
PC: The last song we'll get to in a minute - "At Last" - but, first things first: could you tell me about that fantastically risqué first song - which became the title of the album itself - "Confession"?
LM: OK. In 1960, maybe late fifty-something, my father was working with Judy Holliday. In BELLS ARE RINGING.
PC: Yes, yes. A great Jule Styne show.
LM: And she had just made her first album with Jerry Mulligan. And that was one of the songs on her album. And I just loved it.
PC: Oh, I've never heard that Judy Holliday album.
LM: Oh, you've got the world at your fingertips [with the internet]! You've GOT to get that album!
PC: I will, I will. I promise!
LM: OK! You better! (Laughs.)
PC: And everyone else needs to get CONFESSIONS!
LM: (Laughs.) Yes!
PC: You're on such a roll this summer! First off, congratulations on your HSN Liza Collection clothing line. It's a resounding success and one of the pieces - the Boyfriend Blazer - is their fastest-selling clothing item this year!
LM: Well, that's fantastic. I think it's great, great, great.
PC: Also, this summer you were in SEX & THE CITY 2 doing Beyonce's "Single Ladies", the fashionistas' film with the woman who originally introduced the miniskirt in the 60s now re-introducing it in 2010!
LM: Did I really re-introduce it? (Laughs.)
PC: Yes! You introduced it and now reintroduced it!
LM: (Laughs.) I love it! I love it!
PC: Everyone was - and is - talking about your performance and how great you looked, sounded and danced in that movie! You were by far the best part if only for "Single Ladies"!
LM: Oh, thank you so much for that.
PC: Could you recount that story of the original mini to me?
LM: Oh, yeah. Well, I'll tell you something...
PC: Please do!
LM: Well, you see, we had been living in England. Or, I had been working over there, actually. I was at... The Town Hall or someplace. Something like that. They were selling miniskirts there, and mini-dresses. So, I got them. And I came back... and it was incredible, the reaction!
PC: I can only imagine!
LM: I had cut-off hair, which was not in fashion. I had on a mini-skirt. And boots! And they just went, "Huh?!"
PC: And to this day that's still the height of fashion - the haute-est couture - to this very day. The hottest look.
LM: Oh, well...
PC: From you to Beyonce now to Lady Gaga. What do you think of Lady Gaga?
LM: Oh, I like her!
PC: She's emulating your performances and you, in a lot of ways. Everyone is. How could they not? Your influence...
LM: Nooo, no... I don't think so. But, what she is, is she's original. You know?
LM: You know, she finds these absolutely wacky outfits that absolutely demand attention.(Laughs. Pause.) And then she wears them for direction.
PC: Oh, how interesting to hear you say that! The muse of muses! So, her costume is an extension of her performance, or the song she wrote and is performing?
LM: Yes. Exactly. I didn't know I was going to have to be up on all this stuff [for this interview]! (Laughs.)
PC: Oh, but you are. You are! You're more on the cutting edge than anyone!
LM: Oh, thank you. I try to keep up!
PC: And the one last pop-culture moment I have to ask you about that you've been involved with: that hilarious SNICKERS commercial that you and Aretha Franklin premiered earlier this summer?
LM: Oh, it was funny to make!
PC: What was it like working with Aretha?
LM: Are you kidding? I'm such a fan. (Pause.) Just: wow.
PC: Had you two worked together before? Maybe a benefit concert or something?
LM: Yes, we did something together. She was the closing performer. Then, they wanted to get all the other performers to come back out onstage. So, they sent me out there to tell her! (Laughs.)
LM: And I kind of bounced around and backwards saying, "The cast! You've gotta introduce the cast!" And she said, "Oh, of course, I'm sorry," you know, and she went on.
PC: So you had a great time working together, a great rapport, then and now?
PC: The Queen of Broadway and the Queen of Soul together at last!
PC: So, the word on the street is Ron Howard has a script for the ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT movie and it‘s in pre-production now. Are they making the movie?
LM: I have no idea.
PC: Ron Howard has a script and your character is in it!
LM: Oh, did he say that himself?
PC: Jason Bateman has been saying in interviews it's on the fast-track, or was recently. So, let's hope it happens soon!
LM: Yeah. I just don't know yet, honey!
PC: They've mentioned you multiple times on GLEE. Do you like that show?
LM: Oh yeah!
PC: I hope you'll be on it soon! You and CABARET are so many young people's first exposure to musical theatre!
LM: You're such a darling.
PC: On the new album, CONFESSIONS, you re-invent "At Last" which was most recently performed to great acclaim by your friend Beyonce.
LM: Yeah, right. I loved the song. I always did. But, I wondered... I thought, "If you do it - you have to do it differently." So, what hasn't been done? So, then I thought, "Nobody smiles."
PC: Like Louis Armstrong's version of "What A Wonderful World", so, too, does your version bring a smile to the heart, face and ear! That's the best comparison.
LM: Oh, thank you! I'm so glad you liked it.
PC: Define collaboration.
LM: (Long Pause. Each Word Carefully Chosen.) Collaboration can only happen when you respect and honor your co-workers.
PC: What a woman, what a career! What a thrill it is speaking to you!
LM: Thank you so much, baby!