- The Washington Times - Monday, March 13, 2006

Reviving ‘Liza’

In recent years, Liza Minnelli has generated headlines because of her various addictions, illnesses and bizarre marriage to David Gest.

It wasn’t always that way. She once made news for her showstopping performances, as epitomized in the 1972 special “Liza with a Z.”

Showtime will revisit that storied past with a broadcast of the Emmy-winning program on April 1, Reuters news agency reports. (A DVD filled with extra features will follow on April 4.)

Perhaps the “Liza revival” campaign will help rehabilitate Miss Minnelli’s image from tabloid punch line to the powerhouse entertainer she is.

Yet even the star is edged out of the spotlight at times by director Bob Fosse’s breathtaking vision. The late, legendary choreographer’s dance numbers are positively psychedelic (it was, after all, 1972), filled with sexy, expressive gyrations that punctuate Miss Minnelli’s moves. She easily struts and shows her range through such standards as “God Bless the Child” and “My Mammy,” soulful renditions of “Son of a Preacher Man,” “I Gotcha” and “Bye, Bye Blackbird” — and, of course, a medley of tunes from “Cabaret.”

“When Fosse died [in 1987], a lot of people who loved his film work felt very sad because in his career he didn’t do very many of them,” says Craig Zadan, who is producing the Showtime special with Neil Meron. “This is truly a lost Bob Fosse movie.”

According to Reuters, Miss Minnelli owned the special, but she didn’t know where it was. After a long search, the original master print was lovingly reconstructed by noted film restorer Michael Arick, and the soundtrack was given a state-of-the-art Dolby Digital 5.1 upgrade.

Although most music specials of the era were shot on video, Mr. Fosse insisted on using film, planting eight 16mm cameras in various spots at the Lyceum, where “Liza” was shot in a single night on May 31, 1972.

“It was produced with very deep insight into the life of this performer,” Mr. Meron says. “It’s the right tribute to who Liza is. People need to focus on the talent, not the tabloid headlines.”

Try, try again

“Clueless” star Alicia Silverstone crashed and burned in 2003 in “Miss Match,” the ratings-challenged romantic dramedy on NBC.

The setback didn’t sour her on episodic television. The actress will star in ABC’s comedy pilot “Pink Collar,” a sitcom about female relationships within the workplace, Reuters reports.

Miss Silverstone’s career highs and lows include a limited run (with Mary Steenburgen) in David Mamet’s “Boston Marriage” at the Geffen Playhouse near Los Angeles earlier this year and a forgettable turn as Batgirl in the 1997 feature film “Batman & Robin.” She was seen most recently in the comedy “Beauty Shop” and will next appear on the big screen in “Stormbreaker.”

Bravo digs ‘Six Feet’

Bravo has landed the exclusive rebroadcast rights to all 63 episodes of HBO’s award-winning “Six Feet Under,” with an eye toward a fall debut, MediaWeek.com reports.

Financials of the deal were not disclosed, although industry sources say it’s worth more than $15 million — or $250,000 per episode.

Bravo’s window of exclusivity extends through 2009.

“SFU,” which wrapped its fifth and final season last summer, followed the lives of the dysfunctional Fisher family, owners of a mortuary in Southern California.

The Bravo deal is yet another example of how HBO profits from its original series long after they’ve ended. Last year, A&E; scooped up the rights to “The Sopranos” for the princely sum of $195 million, or $2.5 million per episode. In 2004, TBS bought the network’s “Sex and the City” for an estimated $1 million per episode.

Dishin’ with celebs

There’s something new on Sean “Diddy” Combs’ plate.

The hip-hop and clothing-line mogul will serve as executive producer (along with Ben Silverman of “The Restaurant” and David A. Hurwitz of “Fear Factor”) of “Celebrity Cooking Showdown,” a reality competition being fast-tracked for an April premiere on NBC, TVGuide.com reports.

Seen as “Iron Chef America” meets “Dancing With the Stars,” “Showdown” — a five-night miniseries — will pair superstar chefs with celebrities.

Compiled by Christian Toto and Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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