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August 2, 2014

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Michel Legrand rehearses for MGM tribute; Barbra Streisand on bill?

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Tom Donoghue/www.donoghuephotography.com

Michel Legrand rehearses with his orchestra at MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 25, 2010.

Michel Legrand Tribute Rehearsals

Michel Legrand rehearses with his orchestra at MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 25, 2010. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

Michel Legrand rehearses with his orchestra at MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 25, 2010.

Click to enlarge photo

Michel Legrand rehearses with his orchestra at MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 25, 2010.

Stars — including a possible appearance by Barbra Streisand — are all lined up for the ultimate tribute to the 50-year career of legendary Michel Legrand. The superstar concert Saturday at MGM Grand Garden Arena is being taped for later airing on PBS.

Legrand, who has been nominated for 13 Academy Awards, is a three-time Oscar and five-time Grammy Award winner and will be welcomed to the stage by stars Jennifer O'Neill and Jon Voight, who will host the program. Rehearsals began yesterday, and contributing photographer Tom Donoghue was allowed to shoot photos as Legrand rehearsed with the orchestra for the first time.

"Many hometown Las Vegas musicians are playing, and you could feel the pride they are showing for this very special show," Donoghue said. "It didn't take him very long to fix a few tweets here and there before the orchestra was sounding unbelievable. As the day progressed, you could feel in the room the show starting to build. It will be overpowering on Saturday night with all the stars. In watching him on the stage and at the piano, you could feel you were watching a true master at work."

"I did ask his wife which song was her favorite, she smiled and said, 'All of them.' "

During his 50-year career, Legrand has composed more than 200 film and TV scores, as well as several musicals. He was only 22 when his first album, I Love Paris, became one of the best-selling instrumental albums ever. He is a virtuoso jazz and classical pianist, as well as accomplished arranger and conductor who performs with orchestras worldwide.

At tomorrow's spectacular, Legrand will conduct a 66-member orchestra and perform with many of his superstar friends including George Benson, Melissa Manchester, Jerry Lewis, Dionne Warwick, Andy Williams, Patti Page, Frank Sinatra Jr. and Steve Lawrence. Quincy Jones and Roberta Flack also are taping tributes.

The event pays tribute to some of Legrand's Academy Award-winning MGM movies including Yentl, The Thomas Crown Affair and Summer of 42. Legrand has recorded more than 100 albums and worked with stars including Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Perry Como, Neil Diamond, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Lena Horne, James Ingram, Jack Jones, Frankie Laine, Johnny Mathis, Jessye Norman, Diana Ross, Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett and Liza Minnelli.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.