LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- I got to meet a true icon when Liza Minnelli stopped by our studio. Yep. THE one and only Liza-with-a-Z. Now that’s Hollywood Royalty! She was here to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Bob Fosse-directed classic “Cabaret,” and Liza’s famous role as showgirl Sally Bowles.
“It is sexy, man,” she said of the film. “Sally would say it’s ‘divinely decadent.’ I can’t believe it’s such a good movie! And I know I’m in it, but I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
A huge part of it, obviously! Liza made an indelible impression as Sally Bowles, showgirl at the Kit Kat Klub in 1930s Berlin.
“I was cast as Sally Bowles. I knew I could do it, but I didn’t know quite how. I still felt completely unsexy and unattractive and Bob Fosse had to teach me all of these things like how to, the moves you know.”
Liza unsexy? She makes the perfect Sally. Who can forget the sexy showgirl wardrobe? The ’20s-style hair. The signature heavy eye makeup and red lips.
“I created the makeup myself with a lady called Christina Smith,” Liza revealed. “In fact, the night before we started shooting, I put on all the lashes and dyed my hair black and put it in a point and everything, and went across the hall to Fosse’s room. We were all staying at this hotel, and I knocked and said, ‘So what do you think?’ And he went, ‘What did you…?’” Liza demonstrated how the director paused to take a look at her and then gave his approval. “‘Yes!’ he said of the look,” Liza laughs. “It was really funny!”
Liza told many fun stories during her visit and even did a sexy dance with Billy Bush. Afterward, she stayed and posed for photos with us—such a sweetie and a trooper, and it was just such a thrill to meet her in person—even if only briefly.
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“This is more exciting than winning the Academy Award!” Liza Minnelli told the crowd that had gathered at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre last night for the unveiling of the newly restored Cabaret. Co-hosted by Vanity Fair, the event kicked off this year’s Turner Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. Before the curtains parted to the strains of the “Willkommen” drum roll, however, Minnelli was joined by co-star Michael York and the Master of Ceremonies himself, Joel Grey, to recall a few memories of the making of Bob Fosse’s eight-time Oscar-winning musical. Ahead, the most fascinating revelations from Minnelli, who won best actress for playing singer Sally Bowles in the 1972 film, and Grey, who won both a Tony and an Oscar as the Kit Kat Klub’s M.C.
Nein-where Land Liza Minnelli: “We were sent off to Germany to make this musical about the Nazis. Because we were in Germany, that genius Bob Fosse did anything he wanted. Anything! At one point, he was sent a telegram from the studio saying that he was using too much smoke [as an effect in the Kit Kat Klub]. And in front of the whole cast, he tore it up and threw it over his shoulder. [The studio] couldn’t do a thing.” Styling Sally Bowles Minnelli: “The only thing that I knew about the 30s was Marlene Dietrich. So when they told me that I was going to play Sally, I figured that I would make my hair blond, but my dad [director Vincent Minnelli] said, ‘You know, there were other looks in the 30s.’ He showed me these pictures of Louise Brooks and all of these exotic, wonderful creatures. And I thought, ‘Oh great!’ and started thinking about the look. I was driving down La Cienega [in Los Angeles], and I saw this eyelash shop. I went in and said, ‘Hi there. Whaddya got? I’m making this character and I want her to be extraordinary!’ And she made those big eyelashes that she put on me tonight [laughs]. I dyed my hair and cut it in a point with Joel’s help. I knocked on Fosse’s door the night before we started shooting and said, ‘Whaddya think?’ He went, ‘What did you . . . you didn’t ask . . . I think it’s great.” Casting Liza in Cabaret Minnelli: “Well, I knew I was going to do the movie when I didn’t get the role in the [Broadway musical]. They decided to make [Sally Bowles] English [for the Broadway musical], so I asked what accent they wanted. Then they told me that they were going to cast somebody else. And for some reason, I thought right away, ‘That’s O.K. I’ll do the movie.’ I was young and I just knew it. Then the producer came over to Paris, where I was working on a show. And he said, ‘I’d like to see you.’ So I put on every scarf that I could find and this long coat, and I went and talked to him. He said he loved my ideas and loved that I thought that the boy [Brian, played in the film by Michael York] should still be homosexual. It shouldn’t be changed in the movie because that changes everything.’ I still wasn’t sure, though, so I asked him to come to my show that night and I did ‘Cabaret’ for him. And that’s when he said, ‘You got it.’ That’s when I got it.” The Minnelli-Fosse Bond Minnelli: “I listened carefully to everything Fosse taught me. He taught me the walk. I wasn’t sure how to play the character, but being a director’s daughter, I zoned in [on Fosse] and it worked.” From the Stage to the Screen Grey, explaining why certain songs didn’t make it into the film version: “They made very smart decisions. The Hollywood musical [movie] was in disrepair. [Audiences] were not buying the way in which it was done. And I think that Bob always wanted to be a director of straight films, so I think that he looked at this as a straight film with some musical interludes. I think it was really smart.” Money, Money Minnelli: “When Fosse would give direction, he said, ‘Liza, look, think money. It’s sexual. Money is here [points to her pelvis]. And he said to Joel that in Africa, when men go for the women, they wear a big rhinoceros horn on their equipment. That’s what you have to do.” Grey: “Not only that, but I think he staged two other versions fully and didn’t like them. We learned them and performed them as if we were being filmed the next day, but he would not accept anything but his vision.” Minnelli: “The other two weren’t dark enough. They were so fun. At one point, though, he got so mad and came up to me and said, ‘You weren’t as serious and sexual as I wanted you to be.’ I started to cry, because I tried my best. Then he had to tell Joel the same thing. We went down to Joel’s dressing room together, and Fosse was a little nervous. Fosse knocks on his door and says, ‘It didn’t come out the way I wanted it to. It wasn’t sexual enough. It wasn’t serious enough.’ And Joel just said, ‘Too bad! I’m sorry to hear that.’ And closed the door.” Master Rivalry Grey: “You could say that we had history. The truth of the matter is that Bob did not want me in the movie, and I was heartbroken. He looked at every other possible actor. I understood it in a certain respect, because he wanted to create this from the very beginning with all new actors. And, honestly, I think that he wanted to play the part himself. I’m serious. He was a great performer, and he never really got to do enough of that, so the fact that I was shoved down his throat caused a really interesting challenge for each of us. That’s why I closed the door.” Beer-Garden Surprise Minnelli: “The one sequence that Fosse hadn’t counted on doing—he didn’t rehearse it so he was terrified—was the sequence outside in the beer garden, where the Nazi boy stands up and sings. It’s wonderful because you see that there is a shot of a man and he was old enough to be really confused by seeing these Nazis again, even though they were in costumes. It’s just a brilliant little, chilling moment.”
Liza Minnelli will appear on "Access Hollywood Live" on Thursday, April 19 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Cabaret. Minnelli is the winner of four Tony Awards, an Oscar, a special "Legends" Grammy, two Golden Globe Awards and an Emmy. Cabaret, which underwent a major restoration, was recently screened at the 2012 Turner Classic Film Festival's Opening Night Gala.
One of the most acclaimed films of its era, the film starred Oscar-winner Liza Minnelli as an American singer looking for love and success in pre-World War II Berlin. Minnelli won the Oscar for Best Leading Actress for her performance. Joel Grey, who is currently co-starring in the Broadway revival of Anything Goes, also earned an Oscar as the ubiquitous Master of Ceremonies; Bob Fosse earned Oscar gold for directing the showcase for his unique choreography and imaginative visual style.
Access Hollywood Live airs on NBC markets including WNBC-TV New York, KNBC-TV Los Angeles, WMAQ-TV Chicago, KNTV-TV San Francisco, KNSD-TV San Diego and WVIT-TV Hartford.
8:00 PM -- Arthur (1981) A childlike millionaire must choose between keeping his fortune and marrying a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Dir: Steven Gordon Cast: Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, John Gielgud 97 min, TV-MA, CC
Won Oscars for Best Actor in a Supporting Role -- John Gielgud (John Gielgud was not present at the award's ceremony. Presenters Carol Burnett and Joel Grey accepted the award on his behalf.), and Best Music, Original Song -- Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, Christopher Cross and Peter Allen for the song "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)"
Nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role -- Dudley Moore, and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen -- Steve Gordon
At one point during the production, Liza Minnelli is supposed to board a bus in front of Bergdorf's on Fifth Avenue. When a real bus came along, she boarded it thinking it was the "movie bus". Not until she was halfway down the block did she realize her blunder when she looked back and saw the whole crew cracking up.
10:00 PM -- Private Screenings: Liza Minnelli (2010) The actress discusses her life and career with host Robert Osborne. C- 46 min, TV-14, CC
Because Liza constantly traveled with her mother, she spent most of her childhood in hotels. She was the inspiration for the character of "Eloise", who grew up in the Plaza Hotel. The books were written by Liza's godmother, Kay Thompson.
11:00 PM -- New York, New York (1977) A jazz musician and a singer fight and love their way through the show biz world of the late forties. Dir: Martin Scorsese Cast: Liza Minnelli, Robert De Niro, Lionel Stander C- 163 min, TV-MA, CC
Both Liza Minnelli and Martin Scorsese have said that virtually all of the dialogue in the film was improvised. This created later difficulty during the editing phase, as the director and editors struggled to create a streamlined narrative.
2:00 AM -- The Sterile Cuckoo (1969) An innocent college boy gets mixed up with a needy, neurotic young woman. Dir: Alan J. Pakula Cast: Liza Minnelli, Wendell Burton, Tim McIntire C- 107 min, TV-PG, CC
Nominated for Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role -- Liza Minnelli, and Best Music, Original Song -- Fred Karlin (music) and Dory Previn (lyrics) for the song "Come Saturday Morning"
After winning the part of Pookie Adams, Liza Minnelli had a copy of the script sent over to her mother, Judy Garland, who read it and thought the part of this troubled, friendless girl would be an unattractive role for her daughter. Liza says she became defensive and argued that Pookie was a great role for any actress, but that Garland was personally concerned Liza identified too closely with Pookie.
4:00 AM -- In The Good Old Summertime (1949) In this musical remake of The Shop Around the Corner, feuding co-workers in a small music shop do not realize they are secret romantic pen pals. Dir: Robert Z. Leonard Cast: Judy Garland, Van Johnson, S. Z. "Cuddles" Sakall C- 103 min, TV-PG, CC
Buster Keaton was working as a gag writer at MGM when this movie was made. The filmmakers approached him to devise a way for a violin to get broken that would be both comic and plausible. Keaton came up with an appropriate fall, and the filmmakers then realized he was the only one who would be able to execute it properly, so they cast him in the film. Keaton also devised the sequence in which Van Johnson inadvertently wrecks Judy Garland's hat, and coached Johnson intensively in how to perform the scene. This was the first MGM film Keaton appeared in since being fired from the studio in 1933.
Liza Minnelli will perform Tuesday at Hard Rock Live. (Ruven Afanador/Courtesy / April 6, 2012)
by Rod Stafford Hagwood, Sun Sentinel
11:26 a.m. EDT, April 6, 2012
The word "legend" is as overused in the entertainment world as "diva" and "superstar."
But in Liza Minnelli's case, it really is apt. Not only does the songstress have four Tony Awards, two Golden Globes, an Emmy and a special "Legends" Grammy, but she has "legend" in her genes as the daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli.
With that lineage and experience comes a very Zen attitude when dealing with the jabs of pop culture, be it Kristen Wiig's "Liza Minnelli Tries To Turn Off a Lamp" skit on"Saturday Night Live" or tabloid speculation about her health.
"Move really fast," Minnelli offers by way of explanation on how she deals with it all. "Just keep moving."
Minnelli moves her concert tour to South Florida with a performance 8 p.m. Tuesday at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood.
"I have always loved Florida," she says. "I have a lot of friends there, lots and lots of friends. But I'm not telling you their names."
We caught up with Minnelli for a quick Q&A over the telephone from her home in Manhattan. So how is this concert different?
It's different from the rest because it's very intimate. It's just seven musicians and me. I have this album called "Confessions." When I made it [the album came out in September 2010], it was fun. It was such a fun album to do. I had broken my ankle, so I decided to make an album in bed. I had to lie still for so long afterward. So I called [longtime accompanist] Billy Stritch, and I said, "I'm going bananas. Let's move a small piano in here – in the bedroom – and we'll sing." Suddenly, it just came together. It was funny, but all the songs seem to be about a woman's point of view about love. And that's what the album and the show are about: different points of view from different women – songs such as "On Such a Night As This," "You Fascinate Me So," "He's a Tramp." You were hysterical on "Arrested Development." Is that going to be a return engagement for you if the series returns in 2013 or if there's a film version?
I haven't heard a thing. If they've written something, you bet I will certainly do it. I loved you in "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" and "Drop Dead Diva." You're such a good actress. You teach at the Actors Studio. I don't think you get enough credit for that.
Everything starts with the acting. The way you dance. It's the way you connect … It's the way I connect it to myself, so you're not just doing steps, so there's a feeling behind it. But can you do all that and still entertain onstage? I mean, the mechanics of performing live and maintaining a scene in your head.
Yes, you do all of that and now on top of that … you know? With a song, it's who was this girl? Who is this woman? What happened to her? It's like she's at a window. OK. Where is she? Is she in the country? Is she in the city? What's she looking at? What is she thinking? That's how I work. [Songs] are scenes. They are stories. Each song is different. I guess it's the Broadway background – that you can do that and still find your light onstage, remember the blocking, interact with the audience.
Yes, I do all that before so that when I get onstage, I can focus on who that person is. It keeps it fresh. You got to do that. It's like when I sing, "Cabaret." Well, I remember that it's a new audience. I've got to sing it like I am singing it for the first time so that they can discover it, too. I went to a White Party in Miami with your sister Lorna Luft once, and this guy asked for the straw from her drink so he could have some Judy Garland DNA. Does fame take such a surreal turn with the fans in your experience.
Never because of my mom. I remember when I told her I wanted to go do Broadway, when I told her that I wanted to be on the stage. … The one thing I promised her was that I'll never sing your songs. And I never did. So that was my deal with her. And she came to see "Flora" [the musical "Flora the Red Menace"], and she was so proud. What's White Party? It's an annual AIDS fundraiser with mostly gay men, just a sea of men all wearing white.
And Lorna. Yes, and Lorna. Speaking of gay men, why do you think gay men love you so much? What is it about you, Barbra, Diana, Cher, Dolly? Is it because you are strong women who are also very feminine?
There's a sensitivity in gay people, I think. They've gone through it, too, so they are relating to that in the song you are singing and what you have been through. You know, I get the gay couple sitting next to the grandmother and the daughter and their daughter. I really don't see that, though. I think of the individual.
I know you used to live – around 2000 and 2001 – in Florida.
Yeah, but that wasn't such a good time. I have brain encephalitis, and the doctors told me that I would never walk or talk again. And I decided I would. A lot of prayer and a lot of practice. There's that Broadway discipline again.
Yeah, that's a Broadway thing, that discipline. My dad would always tell me – when I would ask him what should I do about this or what do you think would be the best way to handle that – he would say, "Think about it. Just think about it. If you can stop for a minute [and] look at the situation. Take a step back and really look at the situation." I don't think some of today's stars ever get the time to do that, do you?
I remember Andy Warhol saying there would be a new star every 15 minutes. And now, there is one every 15 seconds. I don't think they ever have a chance to appreciate anything. How did you get along with Bob Fosse?
We got along just sensational. We were great, great friends. We could – I just got him. I'm a director's daughter, so I just got him. I understood how he thought, how he communicated. With him, I would watch him the first time to learn the step. Then, the second time, I would just watch his face.
Note: A few minutes after our interview ended, Minnelli's assistant Nicole called back saying, "Liza wants to say one more thing" and apparently handed the phone to the star.
"I just wanted to add something about that question you asked about gay men and why they love us," Minnelli said. "They have great taste. OK. Goodbye." Liza Minnelli When: 8 p.m. April 10 Where: Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood Cost: $49-$79 Contact: 800-745-3000 or HardRockLiveHollywoodFL.com
"There's Las Vegas and there's Reno, but there's just something about Atlantic City."
It was just one of several anecdotes Liza Minnelli offered as she kicked off her March 24 concert at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. Not surprisingly, the legendary showbiz triple threat proceeded to bring the crowd to its feet several times throughout her performance, most notably after her signature tunes "Cabaret" and "New York, New York."
Truthfully, there are few places in the world more suited to hosting performers of the ever-glamorous Minnelli's caliber than Atlantic City. In fact, much Minnelli herself, the stylish Borgata is a comeback kid of sorts, having recently underwent a $50 million redesign that makes it more state-of-the-art and chic than ever.
Minnelli's appearance no doubt attracted a few more gay visitors than usual to Atlantic City, which has strived in recent years to appeal to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) market. Though there's still room for improvement, LGBT travelers will undoubtedly enjoy the Borgata's destination restaurants, which include the modern Japanese pub Izakaya and the Wolfgang Puck American Grille, as well as its top-notch spa treatments.
No visit to Atlantic City is complete without taking in some nightlife, too, and international DJs and keep the well-heeled crowd at the Borgata's Mixx Nightclub thumping until the wee hours of the morning. For those seeking a more LGBT-specific clientele, Pro Bar -- which opened last year to great fanfare -- at the nearby Resorts Casino is reportedly the city's first nightspot to cater exclusively to that audience. Here, casino-goers can enjoy the latest pop hits while taking in a spectacular view of the city's legendary boardwalk.