Liza Minnelli Ready for 11th Album, Loves Lady Gaga
By Ben Widdicombe Posted Sep 27th 2010 12:00PM
The showbiz legend spoke with PopEater about everything from performing for her famous parents at the age of 3 to the Russell Brand remake of her classic film "Arthur" (hint: she's underwhelmed) and the phenomenon of Lady Gaga.
"I'm running around like a wild woman!" Liza tells PopEater from her home in Manhattan, where she is still rebuilding strength after her latest surgery. "You know it's quite traumatic, having a full knee replacement. But I'm back in dance class every day, plus I go to the trainer. The strength is getting really great, and I'm touring all over the place. My god I'm everywhere!"
And then she follows the remark with that famous Minnelli laugh-"Ha!"-so warm and kooky and such a gift to celebrity impersonators. She lets it loose again a moment later, when asked about who she likes in contemporary pop music.
"I love Lady Gaga! I haven't had a chance to see her live yet, but I like that she goes for it. I like somebody who says 'wait a minute, watch this' Ha! And that's what she does."
"Going for it" has also been a trademark of Liza's own career, winning a Theater World Award for her first ever Off-Broadway appearance at age 16 and collecting plaudits ever since. Her new album, she says, is based on songs she likes to sing around her own piano when friends come over. Those friends may include names like Janet Jackson and Tony Bennett, but, she says, "It's not like celebrity time. These are just people who know each other and like each other."
But we have to wonder if she could she be picking a celebrity fight one of the more recognizable tracks, "At Last," the signature tune of blues great Etta James. You'll recall that James roundly criticized Beyonce Knowles for singing "her" song at the inauguration of President Obama. So is Liza worried that Etta will come after her too?
"No! Ha! And she can't [claim to own the song]. I just have to say, who says?" says Liza. "I liked the Beyonce version very much too--that's the trouble, there's so many wonderful versions of this song. What I thought of, is this is not a lonesome, wailing song, this is a 'thank god.' So I put a smile in the song, and that's the difference."
After she dodged the tricky question of which was her favorite cast of Bravo's Real Housewives ("None! And I don't watch them because it's not reality. You know, it's set up and if somebody burps or something they retake it, trust me. Hahaha!"), it was time to ask about 'Arthur.' Minelli co-starred with comedy legend Dudley Moore in the 1981 original, which is currently being remade with British bad-boy (and Katie Perry fiancé) Russell Brand and Jennifer Garner.
"I haven't thought about it much," she said. "I mean, how do you copy Dudley More? How do you top Dudley More? I think they're two different films. Just like a lot of the remakes. You know my father [Vincente Minnelli] directed 'Father of the Bride' with Spencer Tracy, and when Steve Martin redid it [in 1991], it was a completely different point of view."
In fact, it was the music taught to her by her director-dad that inspired many of the tracks on "Confessions." The then three-year-old would play on the MGM lot while her father worked, she recalled, and in the evening they'd return to her mother, the singer and actress Judy Garland, who at the time was one of the most famous women in the world.
"At night when my father went home he would set me on his lap so I could pretend that I was driving, but he taught me a song every night, just to keep me occupied," she said.
"When we got home one night, he called my mom, and I remember she was at the top of the stairs and he said, 'Liza, sing the new song you learned.'
"So I went 'Love for sale! Appetizing young love for sale!' My mother howled, but she couldn't, because I'd cry if anybody laughed at me at that point. So she said wonderful!' and kind of ducked away."
The memory brings another emphatic "ha!" from Minnelli.
"I would get crazy at that point if anybody laughed at me," she said. "Now, I'll do a pratfall in a second"
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