Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Elizabeth Taylor on A&E's 'Biography'; the Private Story of a Public Figure

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Elizabeth Taylor on A&E's 'Biography'; the Private Story of a Public Figure

Article excerpt

Byline: Nancy McAlister, Times-Union staff writer

Elizabeth Taylor, an actress whose off-screen drama may be just as enduring as her film performances, is the subject of a highly anticipated profile on A&E's Biography series.

Sunday's two-hour premiere kicks off the cable network's Award Winning Women, a week showcasing Diane Keaton (Monday), Faye Dunaway (Tuesday), Sally Field (Wednesday) and Vivien Leigh (Thursday). All telecasts are at 8 p.m.

Biography: Elizabeth Taylor is something of a coup because the Oscar-winning actress has been notoriously private about her life story, which has been grist for the Hollywood gossip mill over many decades. Producer Kevin Burns made overtures to her representatives several years ago. A breakthrough came when he and his team made a documentary about the film Cleopatra for another cable network. That project impressed those around Taylor and established something of a relationship with the star, Burns said.

Friends who stepped forward to be interviewed for her Biography include Shirley MacLaine, Janet Leigh and Mickey Rooney, the latter her co-star in National Velvet when Taylor was 12 years old. Other friends and colleagues who help document her life include Jane Withers (Giant), Michael York (The Taming of the Shrew) and Margaret O'Brien (Little Women). Interspersed are film clips, photographs and interviews with the featured subject herself.

Taylor has reached a point in her life when she is looking back at her legacy, Burns said. A book she recently published about her jewels is as close to an autobiography as she's going to get, he thinks.

Stories about her jewels, he said, are metaphors for her life.

"I heard a story that at the foot of her bed the pictures she keeps [are] one of Mike Todd and one of Richard Burton. Those are the loves of her life," Burns said in a telephone interview, adding that those former husbands also bought her the most jewels.

In trying to tell her story from a fresh perspective, Biography sets out to make it emotional and personal. One of the central questions is why Taylor is such an enduring legend.

"Even though she was born in England, she's the American dream," Burns said. …

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