Liz Smith: Cher — Still a “Female Force” Despite Saying NO to “American Idol” and “The Voice”

And more from our Liz: rare Liza Minnelli album to be released … Tanna Frederick — smart cookie in a tough business … Kathy Bates, ghostly

“THE TROUBLE with some women is that they get all excited over nothing — and then they marry him.”

One of my favorite quotes from the incredible Cher. The star herself has only married twice: her long famous union with Sonny Bono and that roller-coaster ride with Gregg Allman. That was quite enough. However, years ago Cher stunned me during an interview, confessing that she “absolutely” would have married Rob Camilletti, but neither one of them thought a marriage could survive the press intrusions (he was unfairly characterized as “the bagel boy.”) Cher rarely shows her feelings, but on this one occasion, heartbreak was obvious — as well as her bitterness toward the media.

* * *

SPEAKING OF Cher, “American Idol” has tried for years to get her on the show, but to no avail. Last week, a rumor flew that Cher was still saying no to “Idol,” but has agreed to appear as a judge on “The Voice.” Also, she was preparing a musical on her life in the 1960s with Sonny, partnered with producer Ron Dante. Mr. Dante produced, among other things, “Children of a Lesser God” on Broadway. One of his lesser-known credits was singing lead on the 1967 bubblegum hit “Sugar, Sugar” with The Archies. (This was the song The Monkees refused to do, leading to a break with their management. “Sugar, Sugar” was a huge hit.)

Interesting rumors, yes? So I went straight to Cher’s press rep, Liz Rosenberg. (Liz has also repped Madonna for more than a quarter century. The woman is a walking mass of Purple Hearts.) Liz said, “Cher is absolutely not doing ‘The Voice.’ And this musical project has been talked about for ages. It is still in its infancy.” Oh, well. Then Liz said, “But I do have something cute on Cher. Her comic book had sold out its second printing and is going into a third, with a new cover. That’s how popular it is!”

I recall writing about the comic book a while back, which is published by Bluewater Productions. It is part of the “Female Force” series, which offers comics on strong women, such as Ellen DeGeneres, J.K. Rowling, Madonna, Sarah Palin, Angelina Jolie, Lady Gaga and Britney Spears. (I suppose they feel Britney’s amazing pull back from the abyss is an inspiring story.) But nobody yet has sold as well as Cher. Even the publishers were amazed at her appeal. Forty plus years since her first hit and still an icon.

If you want to browse the comic, or know somebody who might, try Amazon, Barnes & Noble online or log on to www.comicshoplocator.com Some of the subjects for upcoming issues include Carrie Fisher, Selena Gomez, who rocketed to stardom on Disney’s “The Wizards of Waverly Place” and … The Three Stooges. I can’t imagine Moe, Larry and Curly are part of the “Female Force” series. Must just be a tie-in to the coming Stooges movie.

* * *

WHILE WE have survivors on the brain — a happy belated birthday to Liza Minnelli who, turned a vibrant 66 on March 12th.

On April 3rd, Liza fans will receive a present from the birthday girl. MasterworksBroadway will release, for the first time, CD and digital versions of Liza’s legendary “Live at the Winter Garden” concert, circa 1974. This was recorded at the very pinnacle of Liza’s popular success, and her voice is a dream. Also included are three recently discovered bonus tracks — “You and I,” “It Had to be You” and “My Shining Hour.” Miss Minnelli won a special Tony for this show. She “added luster to the Broadway season.” And she still does. I think I’m ready to watch Liza walk the tightrope again, bringing her nervous fans to a frenzy, at NYC’s Palace Theater. Or, any old Broadway theater.

* * *

ACTING IS a tough business, especially for women. Good projects are few and far between. Some stars become powerful enough to find their material and produce it. But with the right amount of grit, even actresses with names not known in every household can work continuously.

Take Tanna Frederick. She’s starred in Henry Jaglom’s last three movies, with two new ones on the way: “Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway” and “The M Word.” But she’s not just resting on her Jaglom. Tanna is a smart cookie. She put on and starred in two long-running plays in Los Angeles in the past few years. And she directed her latest stage effort, Clair Chafee’s “Why We Have a Body.”

Miss Frederick watched a lot of old Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney movies. You know, the ones where Judy or Mickey would suddenly exclaim, “Let’s put on show!” (Usually in a barn or an abandoned warehouse or a theater about to be torn down.) And of course, the little show was always a great big hit. Tanna thought, “if Judy and Mickey could do it, why can’t I?” Miss Frederick’s got a lot of grit, and greasepaint is her middle name.

This summer, Tanna will accept a distinguished alumnus award from the University of Iowa. She will be the youngest recipient ever. And Tanna has saved enough money to make four indie movies, also funding fellow Hawkeye filmmakers.

Tanna Frederick. I must say I never heard the name. But now that I know her story, I won’t forget it. And don’t you, either. I have a feeling we’re going to hear more from this girl.

* * *

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the idea of Kathy Bates making an appearance on “Two and a Half Men” as the ghost of Charlie Sheen’s character. Obviously, producer Chuck Lorre hasn’t forgotten one word Charlie said about him when Chuck and Charlie battled last year, leading to Mr. Sheen’s character being killed off rather gruesomely. Oh, well. In real life everybody survived. Ashton Kutcher is doing well as Sheen’s replacement; the ratings are good and Charlie himself seems calmer. (Sheen’s new commercial for DirectTV is actually very funny.)

Now, if we could only find Mr. Right for Demi Moore.

Comments are closed.