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VH1 cancels ''Liza and David'' two months before its debut

VH1 cancels ”Liza and David” two months before its debut. After shooting just one episode, sources say Minnelli was great, but her husband’s meddling made production nearly impossible

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David Gest, Liza Minnelli
Gest & Minnelli: rlw/ep/Ezio Petersen/UPI/Newscom

”Liza and David,” VH1’s planned reality series built around celebrity dinner parties at the home of newlyweds Liza Minnelli and David Gest, could have been brilliant, or it could have been a riveting train wreck, but we’ll never know. VH1 canceled the show Tuesday, after shooting just one episode of the series, which was to premiere in January. The network has no plans to air the lone produced installment, a VH1 spokesperson tells EW.com. ”We’re not moving forward with the show,” the spokesperson said. ”Liza’s amazing, but we were not given the cooperation needed to make the show happen.”

That lack of access was apparently due to concert promoter Gest’s meddling, according to a report in the New York Post. The paper quotes a source close to the show as calling Gest ”impossible to work with” and a ”control freak.” Show insiders reportedly told the Post and the Associated Press that Gest frequently blocked access to Minnelli, keeping her locked in their New York apartment while the crew waited outside; repeatedly canceled production dates; and engaged in such ”neat freak” behavior as forcing crew members to take off their shoes and wear surgical booties inside the apartment. Asked by EW.com about the Post and AP accounts, the VH1 spokesperson declined to comment. Gest and Minnelli also had no comment, though their publicist expected them to issue a statement soon, Reuters reports.

The series was originally going to focus just on the couple’s dinner parties, but producers hoped to expand beyond such staged events to show other facets of Minnelli’s day-to-day life as a performer, the spokesperson told EW.com. ”It was not going to be anything like Anna Nicole Smith or along those lines,” the spokesperson said, referring to E!’s ”The Anna Nicole Show.” Rather, the spokesperson said, ”It was very documentary-like, a day in the life of Liza.”

The one produced episode, shot on Oct. 21, did include a dinner party, to which the Gests invited such boldface names as Ray Charles, Luther Vandross, Michelle Branch, Destiny’s Child’s Kelly Rowland, Sandra Bernhard, author Dominick Dunne, fashion guru Isaac Mizrahi, gossip columnist Liz Smith, and others. Minnelli, Charles, and Vandross sang for their supper, but Gest didn’t let Branch or Rowland sing, despite producers’ desire to make the show a draw for a younger demographic, the Post reports.

Now that the show won’t air, VH1 has to eat whatever it spent preparing for the series, including the performance fees and the production costs of outfitting the Gests’ apartment with film gear. In a letter to David Gest’s attorneys, VH1 cited breach of contract as the reason for the termination, the Post reports. The network spokesperson confirmed to EW.com that VH1 sent a letter to David Gest’s attorneys, some of which was quoted in the Post, citing breach of contract as the reason for the termination. The spokesperson declined to speculate, however, on whether there would be any litigation.

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