Celine Dion said her husband, Rene Angelil, who is stepping down as her manager of 33 years, is “doing well, really well,” in his recovery from cancer surgery in December.
“It’s a long process but we’re all here, the family and friends are here,” she said. “He’s playing poker so I think he’s doing good.”
She made the comments Tuesday in an interview with the Review-Journal before her show at Caesars Palace. It was her first night back after a scheduled break of almost three months.
In a statement Wednesday, it was announced in Montreal that Aldo Giampaolo will take over as CEO of Feeling Productions, which manages Dion’s career.
The announcement said Angelil was stepping back with mutual agreement from the Canadian superstar.
Before taking a question, Dion told me she might be nervous during the show and maybe it wasn’t the best night to see her. “It’s our first show back and it’s always so scary to be back again,” she said. But if she had things on her mind, it didn’t affect her performance.
She told me she thought Angelil was a “strong person” when he fought back from throat cancer in 1999.
“I thought I had seen it all. I didn’t,” she said proudly.
“You know life imposes things and it’s not always easy. But oh my goodness … he’s such a source of inspiration. So strong, so strong.”
“We have a lot to learn from him,” she added.
Dion said Angelil, 72, continues to offer advice.
“He was here today, still commenting. You know it’s wonderful, still commenting on and saying maybe we do this, and what you do you think of that and try this, and after the show, ‘Let’s talk about it.’
“He’s still passionate, he’s still driven and that’s the most important thing because life imposes things on you.
“But you still have the option of how you’re going to go through it.”
SMITH CENTER’S TEAM EFFORT
Myron Martin often refers to The Smith Center for the Performing Arts as “the living room of Las Vegas.”
It has lived up to the name since opening in March 2012.
The Smith Center’s 2,055-seat Reynolds Hall has hosted joyous weddings and icons of Broadway, opera and country music. Even a memorial service for community champion Robert Forbuss.
But never a funeral. That will happen at 9 a.m. Saturday when the Church of Latter Day Saints conducts funeral services for Alyn Beck, one of the two Las Vegas police officers slain Sunday during an ambush.
The Smith Center, with 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. “The Book of Mormon” performances scheduled on Saturday, teamed up with the touring company to pull off the funeral “because it’s the right thing to do,” said Martin, president and CEO of The Smith Center.
“What better place to have it,” he added.
He sent a note Thursday to The Smith Center team saying how proud he was for their “volunteering to make it happen.”
Beck, 41, an LDS member and a father of three, will be buried in Wyoming. Beck and fellow officer, Igor Soldo, 31, were fatally shot while having lunch at a pizzeria. Soldo’s funeral was Thursday.
A third man, Joseph Wilcox, was killed at a nearby Wal-Mart while trying stop the couple, Jerad and Amanda Miller, who died in a shootout at the Wal-Mart.
THE SCENE AND HEARD
Longtime Las Vegas headliner George Wallace noticed I had the wrong date for Diana Ross’ last appearance here. I had Ross here in 2009, for the opening of The Palazzo. Wallace said she appeared at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in November 2010. And he should know.
“I opened for her because she’s the first to bring me to Caesars in 1981,” Wallace said. “She’s still great.”
Clint Holmes said during a sold-out show at Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center last weekend that he is one of three major performers saluting Ella Fitzgerald at the Hollywood Bowl next month. He’s been busy recording a new CD.
Former mob enforcer Frank Cullotta, who ran with notorious mobster Tony Spilotro, dining at Pasta Shop Ristorante on Wednesday.
THE PUNCH LINE
“Kim and Kanye are honeymooning in Mexico. Republicans and Democrats agree that if there’s ever a time to seal the border, this is it.” — Craig Ferguson
Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke.