If you’re familiar with the title song, you’ll know that I loved it because the first few words are, “It’s Liza with a ‘z,’ not Lisa with an ‘s’…” And as a kid, few things are more exciting than having your name in a song.
Now, all these years later, I’m even more excited — because Showtime has re-mastered the original TV special and will air it April 1. While I’m familiar with most of the music, I’d never seen the show until I attended Showtime’s premiere earlier this week.
Not many entertainers can pack New York’s enormous Ziegfeld Theater for a screening of a production that aired about 30 years ago. But Liza can.
Despite recent press about her aberrant behavior and bizarre husbands, “Liza with a ‘Z’” showcases Minnelli as one of the greatest entertainers of our time.
Forget Madonna, Britney or just about any other modern pop diva who thinks they’re deserving of hundreds of millions of dollars because they can shake their bottom or grab their crotch.
Liza’s got it all going on: a powerful, emotional voice of heartbreaking vulnerability, and a sultry, curvaceous form that was made to slide into choreographer Bob Fosse’s sensual moves.
“Liza with a ‘Z’” should be required viewing for any pop wannabe, as well as young record company execs quick to hire untalented, near-future flameouts for a quick buck.
The night before the premiere, Liza celebrated her 60th birthday. This prompted the entire crowd at the Ziegfeld to serenade Liza with “Happy Birthday.” And at the end, we got to hear her sing, as Liza grabbed a Showtime executive’s microphone, smiled and belted back to us, “You bet your a—!”
Wy says 'Why Not' When Conquering Illness
Chatting with Judd this week at FOX News, I was curious to know how she thinks she’d have fared on a show like this when pursuing her career.
"I would not have done as well,” she confessed. “I'm just now at a point in my life where I don't stay in bed all day when I get a bad review. I'm way sensitive, always have been. I don't really belong in the music business. It’s not a place to get your self-worth."
It’s hard to believe that a woman who’s had platinum-selling albums doesn’t belong in the music business.
But music is music, and business is business. And the decidedly unmelodic business end is part of what ate at Judd’s soul and contributed to a food addiction — a disease for which she recently spent seven weeks in rehab. But what ultimately triggered the illness?
"Well, one of the little jokes that I would say often is, 'If it's not one thing it's your mother,'” she cracked, alluding to mom and former singing partner Naomi Judd. “And then I would realize, ‘This is about me. I cannot blame, which is to b-lame.” Did you get the word deconstruction there?
Wynonna explained that she put her needs last, essentially forgetting to take care of herself emotionally. Time spent in the treatment center taught her to love herself.
"For 42 days and two hours I walked around being hard on myself. I said, ‘I've got to get rid of this guilt and shame.’ It's a disease, people — it's not a moral issue, it doesn't mean that you're incapable."
Still, it was hard, and part of her recovery is re-learning how to communicate with mom Naomi and actor/sister Ashley.
"We're not competitive in career, we're competitive at the supper table, trying to get a word in,” she said. “We're the American dream, but just like every other family, very dysfunctional. So we had to learn how to do it right."
Speaking of doing it right … let me do just that. In an on-air report earlier this week, I mentioned that Wynonna “stashed food” as part of her addiction. She did not. She simply ate too much as a symptom of emotional issues. This can cause a person to have plenty of food around, but in Wynonna’s case she didn’t “stash” food. I regret the error.
So here’s to Wynonna conquering the illness and helping others along the way. As she told me, “I’m 41-and-a-half and I’m still here and it’s awesome.”