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Liza Minnelli dances through enduring career

Of the Oakland Press

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We all know about Liza Minnelli's lineage -- the daughter of singer/actress Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli. But the Academy, Tony and Emmy award-winning performer has traced her entertaining roots back even further.

"My family tree on both sides go back to the 1800s, to the circus on both sides," says Minnelli, who turned 60 in March. "So I was really bred for the boards, so to speak. I knew it was in my blood, obviously, but I didn't know how deep it really went."

With her accomplishments in film, television, theater and music, Minnelli has kept her branch of the family tree strong -- and is continuing to do so. With a survivor's strength that's allowed her to overcome substance addictions, encephalitis, hip replacement surgeries and David Gest, she's as busy as ever. Earlier this year she released her award-winning 1972 concert special "Liza with a 'Z' " on DVD. After playing Lucille Austero in TV's "Arrested Development," she'll appear as a sex therapist in the summer film "The Oh in Ohio."

Minnelli is also working on an album of music by her godmother, former MGM music supervisor Kay Thompson, and she has tour dates booked around the U.S. and Europe.

"I'm still dancing as much as I did when I did ('Liza With a 'Z' ')," reports Minnelli, who broke a toe earlier this year. "I like being on stage the best in that it's very immediate. You have to be right in that moment to make that the truth. I find that's what's so attractive to me about my work -- not that I do it well, but it's a wonderful way to be in the moment.

"And I'm so thrilled that everybody thinks it's so wonderful. I'm not up there for myself; I'm on stage to entertain. So I look to see how people are reacting, and that's how I judge how I'm doing. "

Liza Minnelli headlines the Cars & Stars 2006 fundraising gala at 7 p.m. Friday (June 9) at the Music Hall Center, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $85, $65 and $55. Gala tickets that include cocktails, dinner and more are $350. Call (313) 887-8500

Web Site: www.musichall.org.

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