Liza Minnelli hires lawyer over VH1's cancellation of the 'Liza and David' reality show
By Reality TV World staff, 11/23/2002
Zap2It.com reports that Liza Minnelli and husband David Gest have already gone on the public-relations offensive against VH1 over the cancellation of a planned reality show about their lives, now it appears the couple is ready for a legal battle as well. Minnelli and Gest announced they have hired attorney Michael Sherman -- who recently (unsuccessfully) defended Michael Skakel in the Kennedy relative's murder trial -- to seek "appropriate remedies" in their dispute with VH1, the AP reports. What such remedies are, at this point, remains unclear.
At the time they announced the series cancellation, VH1 said they were "not given the cooperation that we were promised." Stories sudsequently circulated about Gest being a control freak, restricting access to Minnelli and doing such unusual things such as insisting that crews wear surgical booties over their shoes while in the apartment. The New York Postquoted one unnamed production source as saying, "David Gest redefines the term 'control freak.' He was almost insane."
For their part, Gest and Minnelli say it was actually VH1 and series producer Robert Weiss trying to exert too much control. Appearing on "Larry King Live" Wednesday (Nov. 20), Gest said Weiss demanded that Minnelli perform with Michelle Branch and Kelly Rowland of Destiny's Child at the first party VH1 was taping. When he said no, Weiss blew up at him, Gest claimed.
According to E! Online, the couple say Weiss was upset that they'd invited so many supposed old fogies (see Ray Charles, Sandra Bernhard, Luther Vandross, etc.) to the bash, which was being filmed for the TV show. The problem, according to Minnelli and Gest, was that neither Rowland nor Branch wanted to sing--Rowland was tuckered out from a recent tour; Branch, a last-minute invite, was minus sheet music. Both said they'd return to Liza and David's penthouse to offer command performances at another time.
According to Gest, that answer wasn't good enough for Weiss. "[He said,] 'Our audience is these two [Rowland and Branch], and if you don't bring them up, your show is canceled,'" Gest told CNN's Larry King on Wednesday. "The next day he called and said, 'I have news for you. Your show is canceled.'"
In a statement on Friday, the VH1 said it "stands by the integrity and professionalism of Robert Weiss." In an apparent reference to the cocktail party from hell, VH1 said "the termination of Liza and David was not based on one incident."