After settling into her leafy new Belgian villa, Canadian star Celine Dion got down to work today (Oct. 17), preparing for a new Las Vegas show which will mark her return to the stage next year. In stark contrast to her retreat in the woods, Dion is rehearsing in the gritty steel town of La Louviere, about 30 miles south of Brussels, where Belgian producer Franco Dragone set up a studio for Dion and her cast.
Dragone, a La Louviere native, is best known for directing both of Cirque du Soleil’s Las Vegas productions — “O” and “Mystere.”
Dion is to appear at Caesars Palace’s new $100 million, 4,000-seat Colosseum theater in Las Vegas to headline an exclusive show to premiere next March. The show will run 200 nights per year for at least three years. The artist arrived in Belgium late Tuesday amid much anticipation, emerging from a tinted-window Mercedes at her house in Bousval, located 22 miles southeast of Brussels. She was greeted by many fans who traveled as far away as the Netherlands to see her, husband Rene Angelil, and their baby, Rene-Charles.
“I’ve just arrived in Belgium and I’m so surprised by this warm welcome,” Dion said. “I’m a bit tired, but happy to be here for a month.”
The as-yet-officially unnamed show was the subject of controversy earlier this week when British rock act Muse posted a message on its official Web site saying it had refused offers by the producers to use the word “Muse” in the show’s title.
The group said it was offered $50,000 to allow the show to be called “Celine Dion Muse,” as Muse owns the worldwide trademark “for any music related services including live performances, records etc etc.” The post went on to claim that after it refused the deal, representatives of the show notified the band that the show would be called “Celine Dion Muse” anyway, to which it protested, garnering headlines in the U.K. and Canada.
Paul Farberman, a lawyer representing Dion, tells Billboard.com that “Celine Dion Muse” was only one of the titles being considered for the show. “We were talking to them to try to work it out, but they made unrealistic demands to get the clearance,” he says. “Once negotiations broke off, we didn’t feel comfortable with it and decided to go with another name.”
According to Farberman, the show’s representatives never insisted that they were going to use the name despite Muse’s refusal. “[The band is just] getting some great press at Celine’s expense,” he says. “She’s such a star that her name gets in the press easily, for better or worse.”
The actual name of Dion’s show is expected to be revealed next week during rehearsals in La Louviere. “There is another name that we seem to have cleared that everyone is very happy with,” Farberman says. “Artwork is being manufactured, we have clearance from our lawyers, and everything is fine.”
— AP & Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.
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