Celine Dion returns to Caesars Palace on Thursday with a new show after a year’s hiatus.
She’s been missed, while she put the health of her husband and longtime manager, Rene Angelil, ahead of her career.
No headliner in Las Vegas history had had as much impact as Dion on the Entertainment Capital of the World.
Since her arrival in March 2003, Dion has performed 913 shows in 4,200-seat Colosseum at Caesars. She is approaching an incredible feat: 4 million fans. The strength behind her drawing power comes from her ability to draw big numbers of international fans.
Elvis and Sinatra didn’t match those numbers, not in 1,100- and 1,200-seat venues at The International (later the Hilton) or Caesars.
Some numbers crunchers at Caesars have penciled out another big number: If the average fan spends an average of $1,000 to see Dion, that $1,000 times 4 million is astronomical.
Former Mayor Oscar Goodman, who has lived in Las Vegas since the early 1960s, knows the difference Dion can make in the community.
When he was mayor Las Vegas experienced two massive floods. The first came in 1999, shortly after he became mayor.
When the second one occurred several years later, “I got the idea to call Celine. I asked her if she would join me on TV and appeal to the community for help.”
The Northwest portion of town was hit hard. “We had folks suffering and lives uprooted. She dropped everything in a matter of hours and we raised over a quarter of a million dollars,” Goodman said.
“She’s really a great lady in addition to be a great performer.”
Few people know that in June, Dion flew back from Boston, where her husband was receiving cancer treatment, to help Larry Ruvo’s Keep Memory Alive Foundation benefit. She kept her commitment to team up with Andrea Bocelli.
Ask the local charity community what Dion has meant to Las Vegas. She’s helped raise nearly $10 million for them and others.
“It’s Celine lending her name,” said a top executive familiar with Dion’s volunteerism.
She averages about one charity concert a year and each time it raises about $1 million. One year it was Opportunity Village. The next year she chose 10 local charities. Then came a benefit for Katrina hurricane victims. There was a UNICEF concert for tsunami aid. A Mother’s Day concert in 2005.
Then add in what she’s done for overall economy: the restaurants, bartenders, ushers, production, box office, security, valet, porters and taxi drivers.
Plus, she takes care of the media. She will conduct a Q-and A-with the media before Thursday’s performance.
THE SCENE AND HEARD
Joe Gillespie, former morning anchor and news director at KXNT (840 AM and 100.5 FM), has resigned to join his wife in Charlotte, N.C., where she works in sales for the Charlotte Observer. Gillespie joined KXNT in 2010. … It’s been quite a year for TV host and entertainer Tony Sacca and his wife, Josette LeBlond, who has operated restaurants here and Los Angeles. She was informed this year that she is receiving a Legion of Honor award from the French government for accomplishments in promoting French culture in her field as a French food manufacturer and chef. Sacca, a Las Vegan since 1981, was the recent recipient of a lifetime achievement award for his volunteer service. Over 40 years he has put together many benefits to raise money for numerous organizations. The plaque was signed by President Barack Obama. … Legendary illusionists Siegfried and Roy will kick off Oktoberfest at Hofbrauhaus as honorary mayors Sept. 18. They will tap a ceremonial keg about 7 p.m. The rest of the keg-tapping lineup: Sept. 19, Chippendales, 7 p.m.; Sept. 25, UFC star Frank Mir, 7 p.m.; Sept. 26, Million Dollar Quartet, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 2, Terry Fator, 7 p.m.; Oct. 3, Rick Harrison of “Pawn Stars,” 7 p.m.; Oct. 9, Australian Bee Gees, 8 p.m.; Oct. 10, Dirk Vermin, 9 p.m.; Oct 11, yours truly, 7 p.m., Oct. 16, Anthony Cools, 7 p.m.; Oct. 17, Legends in Concert (Frank Sinatra, Madonna and Elvis), 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 23, chef Rick Moonen, 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 24, Ricardo Laguna, 7 p.m.; Oct. 30, Thunder From Down Under, 8 p.m. and Oct. 31, the cast of “Fantasy,” in costume, 7:30 p.m. … Rehan Choudry, founder of the Life is Beautiful festival, not only delivered the keynote speech to UNLV’s incoming freshman class Friday, he donated about 3,500 three-day event passes to the freshmen and faculty in the room. The donation was the equivalent of $900,000 in tickets. The festival runs Sept. 25 to 27.
Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook, in a cabana with friends on Saturday at Encore Beach Club. Also at the club: mixed martial arts veteran Urijah Faber, with friends. … Oscar winner Jamie Foxx, hosting the first anniversary of SLS with an appearance at Foxtail Pool. Also at Foxtail: UFC sensation Conor McGregor, partying in a VIP cabana. … DJ and model Brody Jenner, celebrating his 32nd birthday with his first DJ set at The Bank nightclub (Bellagio) on Saturday. Jenner dined with friends at Fix at Bellagio. … David Werly, executive chef at food and beverage at Mandarin Oriental (Aria at CityCenter), checking out newly opened Chada Street in Chinatown on Friday.
THE PUNCH LINE
“Josh Duggar was outed for signing up on Ashley Madison using the screen name ‘Josh the man’ to meet women for sex. He released a statement today apologizing for cheating on his wife while serving as executive director of the Family Research Council. I guess that’s not the sort of family research they had in mind for him.” — Jimmy Kimmel
Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow him: @Norm_Clarke