Showtime to Present Restored "Liza With a 'Z'" Special April 1

News   Showtime to Present Restored "Liza With a 'Z'" Special April 1
Showtime will air a fully restored and digitally remastered version of Liza Minnelli's iconic 1972 concert "Liza With a 'Z'" on April 1.

Minnelli worked with producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, executive producers of the film "Chicago," to bring back the special, which was broadcast on NBC on Sept. 10, 1972; March 9, 1973; and September 1973. It has not aired since.

The show won a Peabody Award along with four Emmy Awards, including Best Performance for Minnelli, Best Direction and Best Choreography for Bob Fosse, and Best Music, Lyrics and Special Material for John Kander and Fred Ebb.

Along with the motion picture "Cabaret," the "Liza With a 'Z'" concert provided the world with an indelible impression of Minnelli as a performer, which has persisted to this day. In the event, which was filmed live at the Lyceum Theatre, she sang "Ring Them Bells," the self-referential "Say Liza (Liza With a 'Z')" and several Cabaret songs—tunes with which she has ever after been associated.

After the program's first three airdates, the negative was placed in the NBC vaults. During the mid-1980s, it was inadvertently misplaced and disappeared. After a search of several years, it was thought to perhaps have been destroyed. Once talk of restoring the program began in 1999, the picture negative was finally found in Los Angeles and New York.

Finding the film's soundtrack also proved a challenge. In the words of production notes by restorer Michael Arlick, "the film's original soundtrack had been... re-recorded as a 16mm mono track negative, which is decidedly Lo-Fi by today's standards. Surprisingly, no master mix source survived for the show itself, although a soundtrack album with subtle differences was released in 1972. But Liza had wisely stored away all of the sound elements associated with the project and buried among these I found hundreds of tiny sound rolls. Without a logbook, these presented quite a puzzle, and my initial concern was that I wouldn't find every track necessary to reconstruct the show. "But Fosse's incredible attention to detail saved the day. He’d produced this special as a musical film, so in addition to Liza's live vocals and the orchestra tracks, every finger snap and footstep had been re-recorded and logged. Nothing was missing, so nothing needed to be recreated.

"And best of all, Phil Ramone had recorded most of the musical program that evening in a multi-track format. So while the show was never designed for a stereo presentation, a full Dolby 5.1 mix was suddenly possible."

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