Monday night at the Ziegfeld Theater Liza Minnelli’s brilliant Bob Fosse-directed “Liza With a Z” TV special was screened. It was surreal in the best sense to watch 26-year-old Liza up there on the giant screen, in this sparkling, restored version of the special, with the live audience at the Ziegfeld screaming and applauding in unison with the black-tie crowd filmed back in 1972 at the Lyceum Theater. The effect was shattering, sob inducing and joyful. “Liza With a Z” presents every aspect of Minnelli at her peak. She mines every ounce of wistful fragility, brass, comic timing, a modern, scorching sex-appeal and, in the show’s emotional high point, a look backward at the vaudeville roots that spawned her mother, Judy Garland. Liza sings “Mammy,” getting down on one knee, Al Jolson style, to belt out her final, larynx bruising, “I’d walk a million miles/For one of your smiles, My Mammy…” Folks, everything Liza Minnelli ever needed to say about her heritage and her emotional connection to her mother is right there.
Liza, looking glam and vibrant in glittery black, took a microphone and charmingly thanked all the people at Showtime, who financed the restoration and will air “Liza With a Z.” She paid tribute to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS who co-sponsored the event. And then she thanked her audience, assuring them that only their love and support had helped her reach this great night.
Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, also vital to the restoration, were there, as well as John Kander who, along with the late Fred Ebb, literally created the Liza Minnelli persona.
THE PARTY after at the Supper Club was a low-key affair. Liza sat quietly and received homage from John Waters, Bebe Neuwirth, Rosie O’Donnell, Parker Posey, Alan Cumming, Isabella Rossellini, Jane Krakowski, David Hyde Pierce, Linda Lavin and pop star Rufus Wainwright.
Rufus, by the way, will appear at Carnegie Hall on June 14 where he intends to perform Judy Garland’s legendary concert.
“Liza With a Z” airs on Showtime April 1. Then it goes to DVD, an edition that includes “fabulous extras,” says Matt Blank, the network’s CEO.
IN NOVEMBER we told you here about a book titled “Ultimate Sacrifice,” which purported to offer new details about the death of President John F. Kennedy.
Now we can tell you that NBC has completed an hourlong documentary focusing on the information in “Ultimate Sacrifice” and this top-secret project will air soon on the Discovery Channel. It is to be titled “Conspiracy Files: JFK” and will include material withheld from the Warren Commission and from congressional investigations as well. Such material has never been seen on TV before.
TONIGHT, Charles Busch, who has moved brilliantly from camp cult figure to Tony-nominated playwright (“The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife”) will be feted as befits a man who knows how to keep his seams straight, and his bugle beads securely fastened, no matter what.
The Quad Cinema screens “The Lady in Question is Charles Busch” a documentary look at this unusual and creative figure — a man who found fame in ladies clothes, channeling the best (and hilarious worst) of his favorite movie goddesses, onstage and in films.
Cocktails and appropriate munchies will be served prior to the screening. Call (212) 620-7310 ext. 274. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center benefits.
WHILE IN L.A., I had my best night at a private dinner in the elegant Joss restaurant, which gives “Chinese” its best name yet. Joss is on Sunset just as you enter Beverly Hills.
Columbia’s rare intellectual producer Gareth Wigan and his wife, Patricia Newcomb, the onetime press agent for Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison and many another star, hosted.
P.S. Speaking of the abovementioned Pat Newcomb, I received a package from Los Angeles — a cache of gorgeous photographs of Marilyn Monroe — some as a teenage model, others later. What caught my eye in particular were many pics of Marilyn from the night she sang “Happy Birthday” to JFK. And as glorious as MM looked, she was accompanied by another stunner — Miss Newcomb, glamorously and fashionably decked out, sporting honey blonde locks. One wonders that Miss Monroe allowed her press rep to look so good on this night of nights! (All the biographies insist that the movie star more or less cautioned her rep — don’t get any blonder!)
The photos were sent to me by noted Hollywood hairstylist Kim Goodwin. He and another Monroe fan, Jack Allen, are working to release that recently discovered MM song from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” Thanks for the memories, Kim.