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September 01, 2009

An Evening with Liza with a "Z"



A special night with Liza Minnelli
featuring the exclusive big screen
preview of Liza with a "Z" for
Television Academy members.

Wadsworth Theatre, Los Angeles, California
March 23, 2006

Story by Libby Slate
Photos: Mathew Imaging

Liza Minnelli's 1972 tour-de-force special Liza with a 'Z' which first aired in 1972 on NBC, has been restored and remastered for an April 2006 premiere on Showtime and a release on DVD.
Several hundred lucky Television Academy members and their guests were treated to a big screen preview of the landmark show, the first concert ever filmed for television, March 23 at the Wadsworth Theatre in West Los Angeles.

With Minnelli herself in attendance, the auditorium energy level was as high voltage as that of the then-twenty-six-year-old performer’s, with the audience cheering and applauding the star as well as the late Bob Fosse’s direction and choreography.

After the screening, Minnelli took the stage for a panel discussion about the show, which won four Emmys and the Peabody Award, and its restoration.
Joining her were Michael M. Arick, who reconstructed the special, the show’s director of photography Owen Roizman, A.S.C., and producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who shepherded the Showtime and DVD projects. John Stamos moderated.

Minnelli, who owned the rights to the special, had bought them, she said, because “My sister Lorna [Luft] and I had gone through such hell trying to get my mother’s [Judy Garland] work, that I was determined to keep everything I was associated with, to save it.”

She paid to safely store the footage, along with Fosse’s notes on continuity, mixing and camera coverage, and after restoration producer Arick asked her several years ago about reconstructing the show, financed the lab work herself.

When Zadan and Meron learned Minnelli owned the show, they approached their friend Robert Greenblatt, Showtime president of entertainment and a member of the Television Academy’s Executive Committee, who agreed to air the new version.

Fosse had been disappointed in the original, Minnelli noted, shot as it was in 16mm. With the digital restoration, she said, “You see the colors, the Elsa Peretti jewelry. Finally, it looks like Owen and Bob Fosse would like it to look.”

The Wadsworth audience enjoyed a bonus: A screening, for the first time ever, of Minnelli’s rendition of the Cabaret song “Mein Herr,” cut from the special; even Minnelli had not seen it previously. The evening ended with a short performance by Minnelli, who was obviously moved by the crowd’s adoration.

Rocci Chatfield produced the event. Robert O’Donnell is director of activities for the Television Academy.
Edited by J. Bolden

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