Minnelli’s remarkable ’72 TV concert resurrected, restored
A major event in gay iconography, “Liza with a “‘Z’: A Concert for Television” represents two major talents at their peak. Between filming “Cabaret” and picking up their Oscars for it, Liza Minnelli and director-choreographer Bob Fosse collaborated on this special that would also win them four Emmy Awards.
Fosse used eight 16mm cameras (resulting in a grainy look) to capture the live performance on May 31, 1972, at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre.
This is Liza in her prime, 26 years old and still technically married to Peter Allen. Well on her way to becoming as popular with gay men as her mother had been, she sings 15 songs and dances to several of them, dressed in four Halston creations. Her hair is like a helmet with bangs and her eyelashes give her an expression of perpetual astonishment.
At this early date the concert is already a career retrospective, with several songs, including “Liza with a “‘Z’” and a medley from “Cabaret,” by John Kander and Fred Ebb.
You may laugh at some of the styles, but you’ll marvel at the energy and talent of arguably the greatest entertainer of the day, whose development had not yet been arrested: Lisa Minuli or whatever.
April 1 at 7 p.m. on Showtime. Comes out on DVD, April 4 ($30).
“‘EDNA JEAN & PITIFUL’ DIRECTOR TODD SAVELL, DEAD AT 41
Todd Savell, pictured, proved you didn’t need a huge budget to create sublime entertainment. The Dallas filmmaker, co-creator of the popular DCTV cable-access drag comedy “The Edna Jean and Pitiful Bitch Show,” died March 24. He was 41.
According to a Dallas Police Department incident report, Savell was a known drug user and drug paraphernalia was found inside Savell’s apartment. Cause of death was “unexplained,” pending toxicology results.
Savell grew up in Dallas, attended Lake Highlands High School and studied theater at Southern Methodist University. This week, Richard Curtin (aka Edna Jean Robinson) e-mailed Dallas Voice about Savell’s death
“I am deeply saddened,” Curtin wrote. “Todd was an incredibly talented man, actor and director. And he demanded only the best performances from me in the “‘Edna Jean and Pitiful Show.’ I will miss him but will always cherish our friendship and the brilliant work we made together.”
Graveside services were held March 27.
Daniel A. Kusner
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, March 31, 2006.