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Taking Names: Streisand, Franklin, Minnelli sing for Hamlisch memorial

- - Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin and Liza Minnelli took turns singing songs by the late Marvin Hamlisch during a stirring memorial service for the composer on Tuesday.

Miss Minnelli sang "If You Really Knew Me" from the musical "They're Playing My Song," Miss Franklin gave a soulful rendition of "Nobody Does It Better" from the James Bond film "The Spy Who Loved Me" and Miss Streisand brought the crowd to its feet when she finished "The Way We Were" from the film of the same name.

The composer's wife of 26 years, Terre Hamlisch, welcomed the crowd.

"These are Marvin's melodies," she said. "Marvin Hamlisch lives in them. This is who Marvin Hamlisch was."

Hamlisch composed or arranged hundreds of scores for musicals and movies, including "A Chorus Line" on Broadway and the films "The Sting," "Sophie's Choice," "Ordinary People" and "The Way We Were." He died on Aug. 6 in Los Angeles at age 68 after a short illness.

Miss Streisand, who wore all black and sat on a stool, said she first met Hamlisch in 1963 when he was her rehearsal pianist in her breakout Broadway show, "Funny Girl." He also was tasked with getting everyone coffee.

Since Miss Streisand didn't drink coffee, he would bring her chocolate doughnuts.

"He always brought me two, and so our love affair began," Miss Streisand said as the crowd laughed.

Their lives would intersect in personal and professional ways over the years. She sang his "The Way We Were" to a Grammy Award win in 1974, and he played at her wedding in 1998.

Miss Franklin, in a white suit, changed some of the lyrics to the sexy James Bond song "Nobody Does It Better," to "Marvin, you were the best." Hamlisch had co-written the No. 1 R&B hit "Break It to Me Gently" with Carole Bayer Sager for Miss Franklin.

Miss Minnelli, in a beaded dress, said she met Hamlisch when she was 14 and he was 15 and they became friends immediately. He later arranged many of Miss Minnelli's albums.

"He was one of my few constants," she said, getting teary on stage. "He was always there. He always was and always will be."

There were few seats available in the 900-seat theater at the Juilliard School, where decades before Hamlisch had become its youngest person accepted at age 7. His widow urged the crowd to fund scholarships in his memory.

Hamlisch went on to became one of the most decorated artists in history, winning three Oscars, four Emmys, four Grammys, a Tony, a Pulitzer and two Golden Globes.

The 90-minute memorial, which also boasted performances by Itzhak Perlman, Michael Feinstein, Chris Botti and Maria Friedman, took place on a stage dominated by a huge photo of Hamlisch and two towers of flowers on either side. Performers would blow the photo kisses or bow to it after their turns on stage.

Lohan facing charges in hit-and-run incident

Lindsay Lohan was arrested in New York early Wednesday on charges that she clipped a pedestrian with her car and did not stop, police said.

The 26-year-old actress was arrested at 2:25 a.m. as she left a nightclub at the Dream Hotel in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, police said. They said no alcohol was involved.

Miss Lohan was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and causing injury. She was given a ticket and scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 23.

Her publicist, Steve Honig, declined to comment. Her attorneys did not immediately respond to voicemails and emails from the Associated Press seeking comment.

Police said Miss Lohan was slowly driving a black Porsche through an alley between the Dream Hotel and the Maritime Hotel on 16th Street when the accident occurred. The victim called 911. He was treated at a hospital for a knee injury and released.

Miss Lohan remains on informal probation for taking a necklace last year from a jewelry store without permission. She completed a strict counseling and morgue cleanup duty program implemented by a judge. She is not required to check in with a judge or probation officer, but she could face a jail term if she is re-arrested.

Actress Woodard working to distract from empty nest

Alfre Woodard says she was born to be a storyteller, but the greatest experience of her life has been raising her two children.

The 59-year-old actress, whose credits include "Primal Fear" and TV's "True Blood" and "Desperate Housewives," told the Associated Press that "being a mother to Mavis and Duncan was my high calling." She added that her 21-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son recently left home.

"I'm three weeks into my empty nest and I'm still a little weepy," Miss Woodard confessed Tuesday while promoting her new Lifetime movie, "Steel Magnolias," alongside co-stars Queen Latifah and Jill Scott.

Miss Woodard said she cooked meals for her kids daily throughout her career, and anytime she got a break from filming, she would fly home to "roast some chickens, go watch them throw a ball and get back on the plane."

Being a mother and discovering who her children are "was just the most incredible human experience I think that I could have, and I miss it terribly," she said.

Luckily, work calls.

"When you take care of [parenting] with good motives, then the universe takes care of other things and has people call you saying, 'Hey, snap out of it, mommy, and bring your storytelling butt to work,'" Miss Woodard said.

Compiled from Web and wire reports