Britney Spears was the “800-pound gorilla” that prompted Planet Hollywood Resort’s dramatic makeover of its cavernous theater.
Mixing some jungle kingdom metaphors, Spears’ manager Larry Rudolph said the 7,000-seat venue was “sort of a white elephant for them.”
“We had this idea,” he said. Instead of being used 15 to 20 times a year, the theater will be downsized to 4,000-plus seats and host about 50 Spears shows a year over two years, Rudolph said.
When the makeover is completed, it will offer a nightclublike experience with multilevel seating and pricing, he said.
Spears’ arrival will coincide with the 15th anniversary of her “Baby One More Time,” which became a smash after it was released Sept. 30, 1998.
Rudolph confirmed he discussed a Spears residency deal with George Maloof at the Palms several years ago, but “it was a little premature. This will be a celebration of her career.”
Rudolph, who also is managing Miley Cyrus’ red-hot career, said she is preparing for a 2014 U.S. tour, “and I guarantee you she will be doing a few shows in Vegas.”
Cyrus drew a rabid crowd Saturday during her mini-concert at the iHeartRadio festival venue.
“Don’t judge her on her first chapter,” said Rudolph, referring to criticism of Cyrus after the Video Music Awards last month.
“These pop culture moments happen,” he said. “There are multiple chapters. These big moments happen: Madonna in the wedding dress, humping the floor; Britney and Madonna kissing.
“A portion of the population does not know what to make of it. It’s like peeling an onion. They’ve only seen the first layer. She’s not a one-trick pony. She’s a multifaceted artist. This girl is a such a winner, I can’t even tell you. She’s so smart and so creative.”
WYNN’S NEXT MOVE
The presence of Steve Wynn at Justin Timberlake’s sound check Thursday at the iHeartRadio festival raised eyebrows.
Was he courting Timberlake for a future headliner residency? Or did it involve something else?
Wynn didn’t get into the particulars during our chat at Piero’s on Thursday during Pia Zadora’s opening night show. But he volunteered that he’s making a major presentation Tuesday related to his super project to develop a new show for Wynn Las Vegas.
On Saturday, Wynn partially cleared up the Timberlake mystery.
The get-together with Timberlake was unrelated to the project, said Wynn, who has yet to fill the void left by Garth Brooks’ departure 10 months ago.
Wynn said his meeting Tuesday will include associates of acclaimed stage designer Mark Fisher, 66, who died in June after a long bout with cancer.
Fisher was part of what Wynn called his “A-Team” to come up with an alternative to Cirque du Soleil dominance on the Strip.
Wynn said he has spent $7 million so far in developing the $160 million concept, a marriage of acting and illusion.
Wynn told me in November that his team included Phillips, choreographer Kenny Ortega and master puppet designer Michael Curry of “Lion King” fame.
An architect, Fisher built his name through his world tour set designs for Pink Floyd’s The Wall and the Rolling Stones’ Steel Wheels tours. He rose to senior designer for the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was executive producer at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
THE SCENE AND HEARD
Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn plan a big announcement during Horn’s 69th birthday at The Mirage on Oct. 3. That happens to be the 10th anniversary of the tiger attack that nearly killed Roy. Siegfried &Roy will announce their commitment to a foundation dedicated to preserving big cats, with plans for a major fundraiser on Horn’s 70th birthday. Still tough as they come, Horn survived a recent fall off a horse with only bruises. ...
Michael and Jenna Morton have come up a name for their new MGM Grand restaurant: Crush, after crushed grapes. In the former Nobhill space, Crush: Eat, Drink Love will feature small plates and big wines. ...
Good news for Josh Strickland fans. The former featured “Peepshow” singer is joining the cast of “Vegas! The Show” in a lead role, replacing former “American Idol” finalist Lou Gazzara.
At Hakkasan (MGM Grand) on Friday: Drake, Kelly Rowland, Ashley Greene and Mario Lopez. ... At Elton John’s private party backstage during iHeartRadio on Friday: Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne. The latter has been denying reports that she’s pregnant. She married Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger in July. During iHeartRadio, Sir Elton was asked about his favorite artists. He singled out Bruno Mars, who is reportedly heading for a residency at The Cosmopolitan. ... Former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, ordering braised pork neck bones as his first course at the Bootlegger Bistro on Friday. ... At Zadora’s soft opening Thursday: Wynn and wife Andrea with Spike Edney, keyboardist for Queen. At another table: Shari Belafonte, daughter of Harry Belafonte.
THE PUNCH LINE
“Miley Cyrus and her fiancé have split up. I guess it just didn’t twerk out.” — Jay Leno
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. “Norm Clarke’s Vegas,” airs Thursdays on the “Morning Blend” on KTNV-TV, Channel 13.