Saturday, December 22, 2007

Celine Dion . . . What a Diva . . .

CELINE DION'S final night in Vegas a week ago Saturday was as over the top of any of her high notes, with its 45-minutes-late start (unheard of in Vegas), a maudlin and self-congratulatory introductory video, 11 standing ovations, 10 minutes of Dion's rambling to the audience about the various shades of meaning the night held for her ("It is amazing what believing and love can do and I can assure you it was worth it.") and those 100,000 rose petals falling on the stage.

Dion's show grossed over $400 million in a run that stretched for nearly five years, and it was a regular sellout. "As a business model we could have kept this going for years," said a wistful John Meglen, president and co-chief executive of AEG Live/Concerts West, promoter for the show. But there is nothing that can be done when a star is ready to move on.

It is hard to remember now what a risk "A New Day" was when the partnership between Cirque du Soleil veteran Franco Dragone and the diva was announced. Caesars Palace agreed to build a $95-million, 4,000-seat venue for Dion's massive show, which would include a band, sets and more than 50 dancers. Harrah's chief executive Garry Loveman remembers thinking what a risk his competitor was taking bringing Dion to Vegas at such cost. "I was nervous," he admits now. Soon he'd have more reason for nerves -- by the time the show opened in 2003, Harrah's owned Caesars but the gamble paid off.
(By Richard Abowitz, Special to The Times)

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