The word "legend" is as overused in the entertainment world as "diva" and "superstar."
But in Liza Minnelli's case, it really is apt. Not only does the songstress have four Tony Awards, two Golden Globes, an Emmy and a special "Legends" Grammy, but she has "legend" in her genes as the daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli.
With that lineage and experience comes a very Zen attitude when dealing with the jabs of pop culture, be it Kristen Wiig's "Liza Minnelli Tries To Turn Off a Lamp" skit on"Saturday Night Live" or tabloid speculation about her health.
"Move really fast," Minnelli offers by way of explanation on how she deals with it all. "Just keep moving."
Minnelli moves her concert tour to South Florida with a performance 8 p.m. Tuesday at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood.
"I have always loved Florida," she says. "I have a lot of friends there, lots and lots of friends. But I'm not telling you their names."
We caught up with Minnelli for a quick Q&A over the telephone from her home in Manhattan.
So how is this concert different?
It's different from the rest because it's very intimate. It's just seven musicians and me. I have this album called "Confessions." When I made it [the album came out in September 2010], it was fun. It was such a fun album to do. I had broken my ankle, so I decided to make an album in bed. I had to lie still for so long afterward. So I called [longtime accompanist] Billy Stritch, and I said, "I'm going bananas. Let's move a small piano in here – in the bedroom – and we'll sing." Suddenly, it just came together. It was funny, but all the songs seem to be about a woman's point of view about love. And that's what the album and the show are about: different points of view from different women – songs such as "On Such a Night As This," "You Fascinate Me So," "He's a Tramp."
You were hysterical on "Arrested Development." Is that going to be a return engagement for you if the series returns in 2013 or if there's a film version?
I haven't heard a thing. If they've written something, you bet I will certainly do it.
I loved you in "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" and "Drop Dead Diva." You're such a good actress. You teach at the Actors Studio. I don't think you get enough credit for that.
Everything starts with the acting. The way you dance. It's the way you connect … It's the way I connect it to myself, so you're not just doing steps, so there's a feeling behind it.
But can you do all that and still entertain onstage? I mean, the mechanics of performing live and maintaining a scene in your head.
Yes, you do all of that and now on top of that … you know? With a song, it's who was this girl? Who is this woman? What happened to her? It's like she's at a window. OK. Where is she? Is she in the country? Is she in the city? What's she looking at? What is she thinking? That's how I work. [Songs] are scenes. They are stories. Each song is different.
I guess it's the Broadway background – that you can do that and still find your light onstage, remember the blocking, interact with the audience.
Yes, I do all that before so that when I get onstage, I can focus on who that person is. It keeps it fresh. You got to do that. It's like when I sing, "Cabaret." Well, I remember that it's a new audience. I've got to sing it like I am singing it for the first time so that they can discover it, too.
I went to a White Party in Miami with your sister Lorna Luft once, and this guy asked for the straw from her drink so he could have some Judy Garland DNA. Does fame take such a surreal turn with the fans in your experience.
Never because of my mom. I remember when I told her I wanted to go do Broadway, when I told her that I wanted to be on the stage. … The one thing I promised her was that I'll never sing your songs. And I never did. So that was my deal with her. And she came to see "Flora" [the musical "Flora the Red Menace"], and she was so proud. What's White Party?
It's an annual AIDS fundraiser with mostly gay men, just a sea of men all wearing white.
Yes, and Lorna. Speaking of gay men, why do you think gay men love you so much? What is it about you, Barbra, Diana, Cher, Dolly? Is it because you are strong women who are also very feminine?
There's a sensitivity in gay people, I think. They've gone through it, too, so they are relating to that in the song you are singing and what you have been through. You know, I get the gay couple sitting next to the grandmother and the daughter and their daughter. I really don't see that, though. I think of the individual.
I know you used to live – around 2000 and 2001 – in Florida.
Yeah, but that wasn't such a good time. I have brain encephalitis, and the doctors told me that I would never walk or talk again. And I decided I would. A lot of prayer and a lot of practice.
There's that Broadway discipline again.
Yeah, that's a Broadway thing, that discipline. My dad would always tell me – when I would ask him what should I do about this or what do you think would be the best way to handle that – he would say, "Think about it. Just think about it. If you can stop for a minute [and] look at the situation. Take a step back and really look at the situation."
I don't think some of today's stars ever get the time to do that, do you?
I remember Andy Warhol saying there would be a new star every 15 minutes. And now, there is one every 15 seconds. I don't think they ever have a chance to appreciate anything.
How did you get along with Bob Fosse?
We got along just sensational. We were great, great friends. We could – I just got him. I'm a director's daughter, so I just got him. I understood how he thought, how he communicated. With him, I would watch him the first time to learn the step. Then, the second time, I would just watch his face.
Note: A few minutes after our interview ended, Minnelli's assistant Nicole called back saying, "Liza wants to say one more thing" and apparently handed the phone to the star.
"I just wanted to add something about that question you asked about gay men and why they love us," Minnelli said. "They have great taste. OK. Goodbye."
When: 8 p.m. April 10
Where: Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood