Tag Archives: Liza Minnelli

Toronto gets Broadway’s Dr. Frankenstein, and Ms Smith’s wisdom falls on glamorous but deaf ears

BROADWAY BABIES: He’s so good in Desperate Housewives that we sometimes forget that it was Roger Bart who originated the title role of the

BART: T.O.-bound

sexually deprived, spiky-haired Young Frankenstein on Broadway in 2007. Good news is, he’s set to reprise his star turn when the Mel Brooks musical opens in Toronto next spring. And coming with him are two of his Great White Way co-stars, Shuler Hensley as the Monster and Cory English as Igor …  Liza’s at the Palace, a recording of Liza Minnelli‘s most recent show as it was performed at the MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theatre in Las Vegas, will be broadcast as a 60-minute special on PBS

USHKOWITZ: back to Broadway?

stations this month. A DVD version of the full two-hour production will be available on February 2 … former Spring Awakening star Jenna Ushkowitz, currently playing Tina on the hit FOX-TV series Glee, says she still dreams of returning to Broadway in a revival of Miss Saigon. “And I’ve been pushing and pushing to be seen for the film version, too!” … and here’s one for your Daytimers: The indefatigable Elaine Stritch officially returns to soignée saloons January 5 – 30, with a new show titled At Home at the Carlyle: Elaine Stritch Singin’ Sondheim.

JAMES: New Year's Eve

NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS: The Toronto Banjo Band headlines this year’s annual King Township Historical Society concert this Friday at 7:30 PM at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in King City. For reservations, call 905-841-5048 or 905-833-3324 … Ballets de Monte-Carlo and the Monaco Dance Forum next week open a seven-month salute to the 100th anniversary of Ballet Russes. The festivities run Dec. 2009 thru July 2010 in Monaco … shhhh, it’s a secret, but there may be some seats still available for the taping of the Ron James’ New Year’s Eve Special, tomorrow and Friday at 7 p.m. at the CBC.  Special guest stars include Gemini

SMITH: advisor to the stars

Award winners Peter Keleghan, whose new CBC-TV series 18 To Life bows in January, and Patrick McKenna. To become part of the live studio audience, contact tickets@enterthepicture.com … and Manhattan gossip girl Liz Smith says she was surprised to see herself in the December issue of Glamour magazine. Go to page 86, she says, and “you’ll see me giving unwanted advice to A-listers like Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Mariah Carey and Madonna. None of these big stars will read or take my advice, of course. Never mind! … I gave it.”  Attagirl!

SHARPS ‘N’ FLATS: Nominations for the 10th Annual Canadian Independent Music Awards – “The Indies” – are now open. Submissions are being

KIM: Christmas with friends

accepted through The Indie Awards website at http://www.indies.ca, as well as through Sonicbids at http://www.sonicbids.com/indies2010 until December 15, The awards will be handed out on Saturday, March 13, 2010 in Toronto as part of Canadian Music Week.  For additional eligibility requirements, voting procedures and a complete list of award categories, click here ... Kim Mitchell, Divine Brown, Broken Social Scene and The Beauties (a.k.a. Now magazine’s Top Indy Band Of The Year) have all signed on to spread musical cheer at the fifth annual Andy Kim Christmas Show on Dec. 9 at The MOD Club. All Proceeds will benefit the Regent Park School Of Music. Call Ticketmaster to

MARSHAK: only A Matter Of Time

reserve your seats now … and at long last, veteran showstopper Judy Marshak has finally released her first album, A Matter Of Time, and as expected, it’s a musical bonbon to savour. Marshak brings a unique interpretation to tunes by Harold Arlen, Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman, but the real revelation is the calibre of her lyrical collaborations with John Alcorn, including the title track (not to be confused with the John Kander-Fred Ebb song created for the 1976 Vincente Minnelli film of the same name.) Add such top-of-the-heap musicians as Rob Piltch, Marc Rogers, Denis Keldie, Guido Basso and Davide Direnzo, and your ears will thank you for listening. To sample some of the Marshak’s musical magic, just click here.

TOMORROW:

Emilio shows his dad The Way,

and Jason & Carly indulge in some hot text

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Julia plays charades, Dragons get an iTunes sound and The Frantics get ready to turn 30 (who knew?)

NOISES ON: Can’t believe it, but they swear it’s true. The Frantics, the certifiably insane, oooh, oops, sorry, the mentally extrvagant comedy troupe

THE FRANTICS: Noises-makers

comprised of Paul Chatto, Rick Green, Dan Redican & Peter Wildman, are about to turn 30. (I know, I know, they don’t look a day over 29 .) To celebrate they’re launching a new Greatest Hits CD, Frantic Noises, and working on anniversary release dates for (1) The Very Best of Frantic Times (“more than 1,000 bits compiled from our CBC Radio show,”) (2) The Frantics Walk Upright

STOJKO: Red Door booster

(“the lost tapes of our final performance together in 1998,”) (3) an all-music CD that they’re recording now, and (4) the DVD of their Frantics Reunion Show, which aired on the Comedy Network. Big news is, they’re set to perform live at The Royal on College street — for one performance only, to launch their new CD — on Monday Dec. 7 at 7 pm. All proceeds from tickets ($10 +tax in advance, $15 +tax at the door) will go to PAL (the Performing Arts Lodge.) To order your tickets now, go to their website at http://www.thefrantics.com, or just click here.

GOING, GOING, GONE: Today is your last chance to bid on a unique online jewelry auction where all of the proceeds raised benefit the Red Door family

PINSENT & PINSENT: all about Uniti (photo: Zoomer magazine)

shelter. Called the Uniti Collection, the pieces are created by 18Karat Goldsmiths and inspired by celebnties partnered with designers. Sparklies adding their lustre to this cause include Leah & Gordon Pinsent, Elvis Stojko and Breakfast Television charmers Dina Pugliese and Jennifer Valentyne. To review the collection and get your bid in, click here … surfers are finding more and more treasures at on-line auctions, which is why they’ve become so popular. BID 2 BEAT AIDS, LIFEbeat’s fifth annual 10-day eBay Celebrity Memorabilia Auction honouring World AIDS Day starts December 1 at 12 noon, with proceeds going to ongoing AIDS/HIV programs in the U.S. Up for grabs are personal items from Michael Feinstein, Debbie Harry, Cheyenne Jackson, Lady Gaga, Cyndi

PUGLIESE: Breakfast jewel

Lauper, Patti LuPone, Madonna, Ricky Martin, Tim McGraw, Liza Minnelli, Stevie Nicks, Cynthia Nixon, Bernadette Peters, Joan Rivers, Henry Rollins, John Waters, Vanessa Williams and the late Bea Arthur, among others. For more information, including a complete list of participating artists and images of many of the items, click here … and  Julia Roberts is among the glitterati reportedly ready to act up for the Labyrinth Theater Company’s seventh annual gala benefit called Celebrity Charades 2009: Jackpot. Beginning

ROBERTS: charity charades

December 7, celeb teams do battle in charades competition, so in addition to Julia look for Eric Bogosian, Bobby Cannavale, Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni and more. And feel free to  follow the action online — where else?!? — at  www.LABtheater.org.

SEE/HEAR: Ever heard of a rock group called 30 Seconds To Mars? Not to worry. You’re not alone.  But clearly we’ve been missing something, because this band delivers an uncommonly visual punch with their words and music, which have even been incorporated into video gaming. First, click here to check out the seductive ‘biker’ film created to illustrate their new single, Kings And Queens. Then, to sample This Is War, the song they created for the in-game soundtrack for the new epic RPG, Dragon Age: Origins, click here.

Like I said — not yer average rock band.

TOMORROW:

Why Liz Smith always makes me laugh.

Plus, Brangelina update, and more!

Atwood brings her Flood show to Church street, Mercer meets Bono, and it’s Liza with a D(VD)!

APRES MOI, THE FLOOD: Tub-thumping novelist Margaret Atwood is keeping her fans abreast of her current Year Of The Flood promotional tour via

ATWOOD: on tour

ATWOOD: on tour

Twitter, although getting on line is sometimes a challenge. In Cardiff, Wales she stopped at an Internet Café and found it distressingly difficult to connect. “If the Internet is a highway,” she noted, “there is much roadwork going on.” Atwood, who calls her Twitter followers her “T-pals,” will join David Ferry, Susan Coyne and Michelle Monteith on stage – on altar?? – this Thursday when she brings her performance-art show (with some Tell) to St. James Cathedral. Meanwhile,

COYNE: altar girl

COYNE: altar girl

fellow novelist Jeanette Winterson reviewed Atwood’s new Giller Prize nominee for the cover story in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. “Atwood,” she writes, “knows how to show us ourselves, but the mirror she holds up to life does more than reflect — it’s like one of those mirrors made with mercury that gives us both a deepening and a distorting effect, allowing both the depths of human nature and its potential mutations.” To see more of her review, just click here.

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Choreography queen Twyla Tharp, who created a major Broadway hit by staging Billy Joel’s songs for dancers in Moving Out, is about to go for gold again. Her new show, Come Fly With Me, is

MINNELLI: new PBS special

MINNELLI: new PBS special

set to music associated with Frank Sinatra, and opens tomorrow night at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. Fingers crossed … still wishing you’d been able to catch Liza Minnelli at the Palace last year, or even at Roy Thomson Hall this spring? PBS is planning to tape her Sept. 30-Oct. 1 performances at the MGM Grand in Vegas. Those brilliant Chicago producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who also worked on Showtime’s digitally restored version of Liza with a Z, will produce the special, which will air on PBS in December and go on sale in January 2010. Now there’s a New Year’s Eve gift! … and leave it to Oprah to out-do all previous flashmob events. Did you see where she got 21,00 of her closest fans to dance in the streets of Chicago? Amazing. If you missed it first time ‘round (I did,) you can still see it. Just click here.

THE LIFE OF RICK: Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on Rick Mercer’s wall? Or maybe a button on his lapel? Two Fridays ago he was one of a select few invited

MERCER: high life

MERCER: high life

to Sarah McLachlan’s lush Vancouver garden, where guests sat on plush divans under Moroccan tents lit by Indian Lanterns and were serenaded by Sarah, Sheryl Crow and dynamic Blue Rodeo duo Jim Cuddy & Greg Keillor at an intimate gathering to celebrate Sarah’s music outreach program for inner-city Vancouver youth. Then this past Friday he joined his Spread The Net partner-in-crime Belinda Stronach at her reception for another fund-raising pal, Bono. Mercer pal Seamus O’Regan was hobnobbing at that one too, as were T-D deputy chair Frank McKenna and War Child founders Dr. Samantha Nutt and Dr. Eric Hoskins. But don’t look for Mercer on the glamour party circuit this Friday — he’ll be in his CBC studio with a few hundred of his devoted fans, taping the first show of the seventh season of his top-rated Rick Mercer Report.

SHEEEEEE”S BACK: Attention  Erin Karpluk fans (and you seem to be growing in numbers every day) — your favourite TV heroine returns to your living rooms tonight when she and Michael Riley kick off the much-anticipated second season Being Erica at 9 pm on CBC. Enjoy!

TOMORROW:

What are Tom Arnold, George Stroumboulopoulos

and Red Green doing in Vancouver??

On a personal note: Remembering Michael and Farrah, with a little help from Liza, Larry and Liz

I met him only once, and you could hardly call it ‘meeting.’

LIZA & MICHAEL: friends

LIZA & MICHAEL: friends

We met at the Academy Awards, at the Governors Ball, the big ballroom party immediately following the telecast at which the Academy celebrates the winners and the runners-up. I was sitting on the mezzanine having dinner with my friend Shirley Eder, the Detroit-based show business columnist, her husband Edward Slotkin, and our mutual friend Ginger Rogers. A number of studio executives had stopped by our table to ask me if I would introduce them to “Miss Rogers,” which of course I did. They regarded her as an icon, which of course she was. But since she didn’t regard herself as one, she was always willing to flash that dazzling smile and say hello to perfect and occasionally imperfect strangers, when they approached her. It was the third executive, a senior exec at Columbia Pictures, thriller-michael-jacksonwho asked me if I’d seen “your friend Liza Minnelli. She’s just sitting over there,” he whispered, trying to not to point —  “with Michael,” he added almost conspiratorially.

I looked up and saw Liza. She was sitting next to a well-respected young agent, a hotshot named Michael Black. I wondered why the studio exec had whispered his name. Was Michael Black involved in some scandal so new that I hadn’t heard of it yet? I could see that there were a lot of people gathered around their table, and not just the usual table-hoppers. Women in glamorous farrah_fawcettevening gowns, studio wives mainly, were pulling little instant cameras out of their Christian Dior evening bags and taking snapshots, their little flashbulbs popping. Very odd behaviour, especially at this very A-list event.

Or so it seemed to me, until I got closer to the table. There he was, in the flesh, much bigger and much taller in person, dressed – well, costumed, really — in one of those prince uniforms that looked like they just came out of a Sigmund Romberg operetta. He had his own security team with him, flanking him on both sides, with two more standing behind him. If he was going for incognito, he’d clearly misunderstood the word. I said hello to Liza and Michael Black; I forget who else was at the table. When I said hello to

FARRAH: refreshingly sweet

FARRAH: refreshingly sweet

Michael Jackson, his security goons bristled, but he just looked up shyly, smiled and looked down at his empty plate again.  I don’t suppose he or Liza ever had anything to eat that night. Not when they were so surrounded by diamond-laden Hollywood matrons who continued to walk right up to the table and stare at them as if they were freaks in a sideshow.

Later they actually escaped to the dance floor, and Shirley Eder and I (and half the ballroom, if I remember correctly) immediately followed suit. I think Shirley got a cute story out of it — how she’d sorta shared a dance floor with Michael Jackson, that kind of thing. Still later I learned that Liza had discovered that Jackson was a great fan of her father’s film work, and had spirited

MINNELLI: phone call from the Ladies loo

MINNELLI: phone call

him off to the ladies room, where she found a public telephone – this was long before iPhones, kids — dialed her father’s private number, and beamed while Michael shyly interviewed Vincente Minnelli for his own personal pleasure. I thought of that moment when I watched Larry King‘s show on Friday night, with Liza commenting from Paris, looking profoundly unhappy and a little angry. But she rallied, as she always does. On Saturday, before her evening performance at the Palais des Congres, she danced through Paris on a float in the Gay Pride parade, crying “Freedom!”

Over the years I met Farrah Fawcett two or three times, and each time I found her to be refreshingly sweet, polite, respectful. It was always a pleasure to be in her company. Another gal from Texas, my esteemed Manhattan colleague Liz

SMITH: fellow Texan

SMITH: fellow Texan

Smith, shared her February 2 birthdate and thought of her as one of the nicest women in show business. “I well remember how this dear girl, who became an iconic sensation with her good looks and great hair, always remained devoted to her family and worried about their welfare,” said Liz on her website at wowOwow.com. “We never had a conversation that didn’t lead back to her parents!”

I imagine Liz was as intrigued as I was to see all three U.S. majors, ABC, CBS and NBC, turn over most of prime time to news specials remembering Jackson and Farrah. CBS’ Life and Death of Michael

Jackson garnered the most viewers of the three network specials about the singer, drawing 7.6 million, but ABC’s 20/20 special devoted to Farrah attracted more viewers than any of the Jackson specials, leading the 10 p.m. hour with 8.2 million viewers.

At the end of the day, CBS won the night, but not because of its Michael Jackson special. They attracted the biggest audiences of the night with an 8 pm rerun of The Mentalist, followed by a repeat of CSI at 9 pm.

Were younger viewers glued to their TV sets watching the specials on Michael or Farrah?

Nope. They were all watching So You Think You Can Dance, on Fox.

Ain’t showbiz grand?

TOMORROW:

Raves for stage lions Anne Hathaway and Bruce Dow,

Mia Kirshner’s little sister writes a book,

and Sacha Baron Cohen’s outrageous gay supermodel Bruno

(why wasn’t he in last weekend’s Pride parade?)

-/-

Sandra & Ryan switch bait (and nationalities,) Kirstie gets a crush, Maggie hosts a Buddies bash, and Joan hits off-Broadway with a drag band

I’VE GOT A CRUSH ON YOU: Twitterbug Kirstie Alley admittedly gets crushes like crazy. Two weeks ago it was Jamie Foxx. Her new swoon? Violinist David Garrett. “Mr. Foxx is on the back burner today,” she confided last week

GARRETT: Kirstie crush

GARRETT: Kirstie crush

to her more than 40,000 Twitter followers. “Hottie violin player on front burner … boiling …” But she’s also an ardent admirer one of television’s true Golden Girls, Mary Tyler Moore alumnus Betty White. “I want to be Betty White when I grow up,” Kirstie insists. “I love her!” … which reminds me, Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds clearly had a lot of fun shooting their new romantic comedy The Proposal, and it shows. The plot involves a transplanted Canadian boss who forces an American underling into a marriage to avoid being deported from the U.S. The inside joke is, Hollywood screen queen Bullock plays the Canadian boss and Canadian heartthrob Reynolds plays her harassed American assistant. Funnier still is the ‘secret’ out-take they manufactured to promote the movie on Will Ferrell’s 

WHITE: friction causer?

WHITE: friction causer?

Funny Or Die website, in which they both royally send themselves up as spoiled movie stars. Why did Kirstie’s crush on Betty White remind me of Sandra & Ryan? Because Betty is the cause of the fictitious friction between the two stars on the set in their sly rehearsed romp for Ferrell fanatics. To see for yourself, just click here.

GUESS YOU HAD TO BE THERE:  Okay, last night was not the Tony’s finest hour. Granted all the stars gathered at Radio City Music Hall seemed to love that overblown  musical opener, but despite Elton, Dolly and Liza it was mostly a train wreck on television. Camera direction was disastrous most of the night, as were persistent audio problems. New musicals were well represented but new dramas were given alarmningly short shrift

What was good about it? The Tony win for David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish, who continue to make Billy Elliot, The Musical the ongoing talk of the town. And, as predicted here Friday, Tony host Neil Patrick Harris’ clever closing number was almost worth wading through the three (!!!) hours preceding it, which he so masterfully sent up.  And despite this flawed smorgasbord showcase,   I can’t wait to get back to Broadway to see some of these great shows. George & Ira Gershwin wrote, I like New York in June / how about you?  Over the years I’ve been there every month of the calendar year, and still can’t find a time or a season when I don’t love New York. So take a few days to lick your wounds, Tony TV producers, and then go back to the drawing board and fix it. And in just case you’ve forgotten: Yes You Can.

CASSELLA: Vent-ing

CASSELLA: Vent-ing

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Gorgeous Natalie Portman makes her directorial and writing debut behind the camera directing Lauren Bacall, Olivia Thirlby and Ben Gazzara in Eve, one of the ‘hot tickets’ for the Canadian Film Centre’s upcoming Worldwide Short Film Festival June 16-21. For more info on the WSSS line-up, click here …  Tragically Hip icon Gord Downie narrates Mongrel Media’s dazzling new doc, Waterlife, about the future of the Great Lakes, a gift enjoyed by 35 million North Americans that may not be able to continue giving if we don’t change our corporate ways. Want a sneak preview? Click hereMaggie Cassella’s much-anticipated new series The Vent premieres June 28 on Out TV and on the web at http://www.getoutthevent.com. La Cassella will host a Vent launch party – an

RIVERS: stand up

RIVERS: stand up

official Gay Pride event — on Sunday June 21 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and will preview the series’ first episode, Celebutantes, at the party. Sounds like fun … and speaking of Pride, Joan Rivers, who championed AIDS victims and fund-raised for research long before it became fashionable to do so, is set to do two shows on Thursday June 25 at off-Broadway’s Gramercy Theater, at East 23rd Street and Lexington Avenue, timed to coincide with New York City’s annual Gay Pride Week. The historic venue had been transformed into an intimate nightclub for Rivers’ show, with cabaret tables in the orchestra section, a full bar and waiter service. Her opening act? Rising indie drag band She-Dick. (And no, I’m not making that up.) Tickets are $25-$125 with net proceeds going to Rivers’ favorite charities: God’s Love We Deliver and Guide Dogs for the Blind.

TOMORROW:  Catching up with Anne Murray.