Julie Andrews won’t be home for the New Year’s holiday, but she’ll be someplace that almost feels like it to her.
The Oscar-, Emmy- and Grammy-winning talent filmed the classic movie “The Sound of Music” in Salzburg, and she returns to Austria as third-time host of PBS’ annual “Great Performances” special “From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration” Sunday (Jan. 1). In presenting the Vienna Philharmonic’s traditional concert of Strauss music, she’ll also tour various sites throughout the city.
“It’s kind of a wonderful picture-postcard,” Andrews tells Zap2it, “particularly the way PBS frames it. I do get to travel around, and it’s a joy. And, of course, the music is spectacular and so is the hall (the Musikverein). In this case, I’m doing it right up to the moment … going to various spots and taping for four or five days, then hosting the concert itself on New Year’s Day.”
Andrews has done little singing in recent years, a byproduct of throat surgery she had in 1997, but she maintains her appreciation of great music. When she was a young performer, she sang Strauss compositions with what she now recalls as unfortunate lyrics set to the classic melodies.
“With ‘The Blue Danube,’ for example,” she says, “there I was, piping away, little guessing that I would be in Vienna and hearing it for real. And in that beautiful hall, too, which is exquisite. It’s filled with flowers, and the people are wearing the traditional costumes of the country. It’s lovely.”
Though she also was scheduled to host “From Vienna” last year, Andrews had to bow out due to the death of her husband, “The Pink Panther” and “Victor/Victoria” filmmaker Blake Edwards. (News personality Paula Zahn was the last-minute substitute.) Though she allows that she and her family are still coming to terms with his passing, Andrews is glad to be involved in the special again.
Before flying to Austria, she anticipated leaving “a lot of wrapping paper around, and I hope somebody gets it cleaned up before I return. I’m looking forward to this, and it’s a good thing to be doing this year. It helps.”
ABC aired “The Sound of Music” on Christmas Eve, and the Disney studio’s “Mary Poppins” — which earned Andrews her Academy Award — is being shown twice daily through Friday (Dec. 30) in a holiday-season family film festival at New York’s Lincoln Center.
“I’m so proud to have been a part of them,” she reflects. “That may sound a little Pollyanna-ish, but it’s the absolute truth. I mean, how lucky can anybody be to be asked to be in those movies? I’m thrilled that every seven years or so, a new generation gets to see them.”