- The Washington Times - Monday, December 17, 2007

Final bow

Celine Dion called it a wrap at Caesars Palace on Saturday, acknowledging in her final show that pregnancy and poor early reviews almost sank her titanic five-year engagement.

While the show was still in development in 2000, Miss Dion, 39, became pregnant and told husband-manager Rene Angelil she did not want to continue. “I had a life for the first time,” the French-Canadian chanteuse said in a video before her 717th show. “I knew then that I wanted to have more success as a mother than a singer.”

But Mr. Angelil told her that too much money and too many people were involved. Not only would the Caesar’s Colosseum venue cost $95 million to build, her initial three-year, $100 million contract broke records for a live entertainer. So she pushed on, fighting through initial bad reviews to make it five years of filling a 4,100-seat arena.

After her last number, Miss Dion invited her husband and son, Rene-Charles, now 7, onstage with her. Rene-Charles repeatedly reached down to grab rose petals that rained down on the final bow, giving them to her, Associated Press reports.

Since opening in March 2003, Miss Dion’s show, “A New Day … .” grossed more than $400 million and was seen by nearly 3 million fans. Miss Dion said one fan had seen her Las Vegas show more than 100 times. Tickets for the final show were for sale on EBay for as much as $1,899, AP said.

Last month, Miss Dion released “Taking Chances” her first English-language album in four years. The album was most recently the 12th best-selling in the U.S., according to Billboard magazine. She starts touring with a first concert date set for Valentine’s Day in Johannesburg.

Taking Miss Dion’s place at Caesars Palace will be Bette Midler’s “The Showgirl Must Go On,” which is set to open Feb. 20.

Papal makeover

Franco Zeffirelli would like to make over what he called Pope Benedict XVI’s “cold” image and his “showy” clothes, AP reports, saying the film, stage and opera director offered his services in an interview.

Coming after the media-savvy Pope John Paul II, “Benedict XVI still has a cold way of communicating, little suited to what is happening around him,” Mr. Zeffirelli was quoted as telling the Turin daily La Stampa.

“Even his wardrobe needs to be revised,” the 84-year-old Mr. Zeffirelli was quoted as saying. “These are not times of high-tailored church wear.” Instead, his vestments should reflect “sobriety,” the director said. “The papal vestments have been done over to be too sumptuous and showy.”

John Paul II, often spontaneous and sometimes outdoorsy, had little use for fancy papal attire. But Benedict has taken to wearing some eye-stopping outfits in his public appearances, including a red velvet cape trimmed with ermine, a fur-trimmed stocking cap that some first mistook for a Santa Claus hat, and bright red Prada loafers.

Mr. Zeffirelli, who has directed ceremonies at the Vatican, sounded eager in the interview to be an image consultant for Benedict. “If they give me an official supervisory role, I would dedicate myself to it full time,” Mr. Zeffirelli was quoted by La Stampa as saying. “There is a great need for it.”

“I know (Joseph) Ratzinger personally,” the director said, using the German-born pope’s name before he became pontiff. “He’s very attentive to the importance of how the sacred is represented.”

Weinstein weds

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein married British designer Georgina Chapman at his waterfront Connecticut estate Saturday night before a star-studded crowd that included Jennifer Lopez and her hubby Marc Anthony, Cameron Diaz, Renee Zellweger and Naomi Watts — and topped it off with a grand fireworks display.

According to People.com, the intimate winter ceremony under the stars took place one month after Mr. Weinstein, 55, proposed to the 31-year-old Miss Chapman. It is the second marriage for Mr. Weinstein.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports