BootLeg Betty

BETTE MIDLER’S FAREWELL INCLUDES GLADYS, MARIE & CELINE

BETTE MIDLER’S FAREWELL INCLUDES GLADYS, MARIE & CELINE
Posted February 1, 2010 • 9:36 a.m.
Robin Leach

International recording superstar Celine Dion returned to “her stage” at The Colosseum in Caesars Palace last night for the final concert of Bette Midler’s two-year-run of The Showgirl Must Go On, and Marie Osmond and Gladys Knight also made surprise appearances.

Celine was present via video, and it seems to confirm our Vegas DeLuxe stories that the Canadian songbird is returning to Las Vegas. Barbara Brander of Zeropower even went so far as to advise me that Ticketmaster would start selling tickets for Celine’s return on March 25 next year! Ticketmaster actually posted that date last week, but because there’s been no announcement, it was quickly taken down.

However, last night, one official with AEG Concerts West did unofficially confirm to me that an announcement would be forthcoming with Celine’s return dates for an all-new show. It certainly looks as if Celine is putting her pregnancy attempt on hold because she also turned up last night in the 3-D Michael Jackson tribute with Usher, Smokey Robinson, Jennifer Hudson and Carrie Underwood at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.

BETTE MIDLER’S FAREWELL PERFORMANCE

It was an emotionally charged evening for Bette and her cast and crew as they ended their run. (We posted a story on Friday of all the fun facts of her 180 shows.) Our contributing photographer Erik Kabik was there to capture highlights of the final spectacular. The finale began 15 minutes late for the sold-out 4,200-member audience, and when Bette appeared amid her 2,200-pound stack of Louis Vuitton luggage, she exclaimed, “I survived!”

In one hysterical highlight, the 64-year-old Divine Miss M “collapsed” from her “exhaustion” of running all over the stage and pleaded with Celine to return home and asked Cher to take over. Then she said she’d even take Donny and Marie from across the Strip. Despite a rat-a-tat delivery of F bomb-laced laugh lines, a blushing Marie stepped up onstage from the audience, and to loud cheers and applause joked, “I know what it’s like to faint!” She explained Donny’s absence, saying: “He should be here to help you up like the winds beneath your wings, but he’s so full of hot air, he just flew off.”

Marie added that with 45 years of experience, she’s actually been in showbiz singing longer than Bette, but admired her for everything she’d done with her career and during her Las Vegas contract. Bette said she’d hold off on her dirtiest joke of the night until Marie had left the theater!

Bette Midler appears with Gladys Knight in her final performance of The Showgirl Must Go On in The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on Jan. 31, 2010.

Superstar singer Gladys, who lives here in Las Vegas, also surprised Bette with a walk-on appearance and sang “The Way We Were,” the memorable “Memories” song. Bette sat on a piano stool behind her and was reduced to tears along with many in the audience with the song rendered beyond perfection. Bette explained that she’d invited Gladys because she’d been the one to tell her how much she would enjoy her move to Las Vegas from New York.

Bette had the audience in laugh-out-loud mode with her savage and sarcastic spears at Tiger Woods: “When he said he was going out to play 18 holes, she never imagined. His poor wife. So she beat him with his own golf club. Now that’s a girl who loves irony-y. Especially three iron-y.”
It’s been a week of celebrity celebrating for Bette: Magician David Copperfield, actress Glenn Close, former L.A. Lakers star Rick Fox and actress Eliza Dushku were all backstage in Bette’s final days. Our Friday story lists the stars who’ve seen Bette.

On Wednesday, Bette had given her own farewell party for the cast and crew with a dinner reception at Bradley Ogden opposite The Colosseum. Then she’d taken them to see Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas across the Strip at Imperial Palace. Bette’s cast hired Bette impersonator Joe Santelano and Cher impersonator Steven Wayne to upstage and unnerve her with a practical joke as she went on for the large-feathered “The Showgirl Must Go On” number holding up a large-lettered placard “Get Off My Stage, Bitch.”

Bette Midler watches a video message from Celine Dion in her final performance of The Showgirl Must Go On in The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on Jan. 31, 2010.

Bette returned to Bradley Ogden again last night for a farewell party for her trio of backup dancers the Staggering Harlettes and her dance troupe the Caesars Salad Girls. Also attending were choreographer Toni Basil and comedy writers Bruce Vilanch and Eric Kornfeld. After the show in her dressing room, she held an intimate reception catered by Wolfgang Puck’s Spago for 65 of her closest family and business associates, including AEG honchos who’d sent her a bouquet of red roses to mark each individual show she’d performed. Celine also sent flowers congratulating her on the successful run. The usher staff at the theater presented Bette with a perfect attendance trophy for never missing a show.

Among other Strip stars attending the fond farewell were Terry Fator, Rita Rudner, George Wallace, Anthony Crivello, Carrot Top and Wayne Newton, plus Paula Abdul, who is featured nightly on a video clip in Bette’s show. Mr. Las Vegas told me: “Ironically, I’ve been in her show every night on video but never had the opportunity to see it until tonight. I was determined not to miss this one. She is phenomenal.”

Also there, Elaine Wynn and boxing promoter Bob Arum and wife Lovee, who told me they’d attended Bette’s opening night and had seen Bette’s show several times during the two years and thought each one was “simply great.” Bob and Lovee are close friends of Bette and her husband.
Bette says she now wants a long rest and isn’t planning any serious tour dates. There had been rumors that after an extended vacation, she might sign a solo acoustic singing deal similar to the Garth Brooks appearances at Steve Wynn’s Encore Theater, but my gossip guru colleague Norm Clarke denied that in a report this morning. Our Las Vegas Weekly colleague Joe Brown also attended last night’s farewell concert.

Beyonce at The Colosseum?

There are still rumors in the industry that AEG has been in negotiations with Beyonce to fill some of the vacant dates between Bette’s finale and the return of Celine. Last night at the Grammy Awards, the superstar pop diva won six Grammys, making her one of the most decorated female artists in Grammy history. Her anthemic “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” won Song of the Year and soaring “Halo” Best Female Pop Vocal.

Beyonce’s manager father Matthew Knowles had been negotiating with hotel mogul Steve for a return to his Encore Theater for limited weekend concerts.

Although a deal was said to have been completed and an announcement expected during January, it has not happened, leading to rumblings that she’s instead jumping to The Colosseum. An AEG Concerts West executive told me that they’d heard no word of any such negotiations for Beyonce to appear at Caesars, but “anything is possible in Los Angeles headquarters.”

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images for AEG Live/Concerts West
Marie Osmond surprises Bette Midler onstage during the final performance of Bette’s show The Showgirl Must Go On in The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on Jan. 31, 2010.

Bette’s boutique of souvenir memorabilia at Caesars Palace was mobbed by fans before and after the show, snapping up drastically discounted merchandise. The store will close when everything has been cleaned out and remain Cher’s boutique until Celine’s return. Although Bette pleads for vacation time, she will reportedly star in New York this month alongside James Taylor, Eric Clapton and Sean Lennon in a musical tribute to Yoko Ono.

Vegas DeLuxe will continue to keep watch over the return of Celine to Las Vegas with all the up-to-date breaking news.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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