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March 17, 2003 -- David & Liza: Love knows no bounds

LAST WEEK, when Liza Minnelli re- entered rehab, what whizzed around quickly was that husband David Gest's tune was, "You take the high road and I'll take the low road."

"No, we are not getting divorced," he told me. "I love this woman. She loves me. We love one another. We're in love."

Referred to as a control freak - he changes numbers, stacks layers between himself and callers, wants even New Yorkers to leave messages in his L.A. office - he, however, did not duck speaking about this to me.

He said: "Yes, Liza is in the Caron Foundation. She'll continue having to go for self-help sessions. They have programs for those with alcohol addictions and for their families, like me.

"It's for people who've had alcohol or drug abuse. You go not only for recovery but for the family to learn how to progress. They teach how to deal with emotions. You need the specialists to help put all that into perspective. To look at feelings differently.

"I married Liza knowing her past history. There are times things are hard and you must stand by that person. All I can tell you is, I love her and we had a year nobody could take. Great highs but times also that were just plain tough.

"I didn't know much about alcoholism when we married. I've taken courses, and I now know it's a disease. Something you always fight to control. Caron takes special care to teach you it's hereditary. Liza grew up by age 6. At 13 she was mother to Judy Garland. At 16 already a Tony- winner.

"She has a great gift. She also has this disease.

"Liza's come so far in such a short time. In one year she conquered England, New York, toured the world, put out an album, was on the cover of 40 magazines and lost 109 pounds. People used her, manipulated her, almost paraded her like a freak. She was chain-smoking, stuffing herself, moving slowly.

"Has the year been pressure? Absolutely. To climb a mountain is not always easy. With that pressure comes reality. But there's no effing way she should have ended her days moving that slowly."

What about word she overdosed?

"Bull - - - -. My wife is completely fine. Totally in control. She's overcome everything. The rumors that she's in some sort of hospital and our marriage is over are not true."

He keeps saying he loves Liza. Why? Because she's a star . . . famous . . . a passport to the big time? Why, specifically?

"I fell in love and I love this woman with my whole heart. I love her nose. The way she smells. She's lovable and everything a woman's supposed to be. I'll do everything to make sure she's OK and has a great environment to live in."

And what's that mean?

"We bought this place in Hawaii, where she's the leader of her AA chapter. She goes twice a day. There we're not Liza and David. We're the Gests, and nobody cares. I'll bring her there. She'll keep all her concert dates. She's filling concert halls. She just won't take on every extra thing.

"Here if she goes to get a cigarette, we're getting divorced. If we visit separate tables in a restaurant, we've had a tiff.

"Hard to have times when you can't go out. We're human beings - each with our own frailties. Two people who, plain and simple, have the strains and stresses of any other two people. It's just that we haven't that quiet away time where we're not scrutinized. That's why we need Hawaii. There we can take care of just being Liza and David.

"Look, not every day is a perfect day. When things get nuts for me, I go for a walk. I'll see someone laying under a bench and remind myself how f - - - ing lucky I am.

"We're learning we've got to explore every way we deal with a situation. Maybe it wasn't Liza that created a situation, maybe it wasn't David, maybe it's neither one of us that did whatever got done, but a person's mind is like a clock. If it ticks wrong, the mechanism goes off. We're learning we must surround ourselves with the right environment and the right people.

"I've bought her two dogs to love. And we're getting two more. I have to pray to see the light and that we're shown the right way. I love the woman. I'll be there for her."

Today is their one-year anniversary.

MARTY Richards, producer of the movie "Chicago," is profiled in today's New York magazine. I had an advance copy. So Saturday morning, the hotshot who's up for an Oscar and who parties with little people named Zellweger, Gere and Zeta-Jones said, "Read it to me." So I'm reading this five-page spread aloud, word for word, over the phone.

That same night, I'm on CNN, being interviewed by Larry King because of my dog book. I have a late dinner engagement, so I couldn't see it. Marty says, "I'll be home, I'll tape it for you." So I read his p.r. for him and he taped my p.r. for me.

Only in New York, kids, only in New York.

Cindy Adams 2003

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