Wayne Newton, meet Celine Dion.

Wayne Newton, meet Celine Dion.

Wayne Newton, meet Celine Dion.

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March 26 2003 7:25 PM

Wayne Newton, Meet Celine Dion

For a cool $100 million, the diva becomes a Vegas lounge singer.

Celine's "New Day" will go on and on and on ...
Celine's "New Day" will go on and on and on ...

When Celine Dion was a nappy-headed boy, her only worry was for Christmas what would be her toy.

Virginia Heffernan Virginia Heffernan

Virginia Heffernan is a contributing editor at Politico. Follow her on Twitter.

Or so she told the loving crowd on Tuesday night, during the live broadcast of her eclectic stage show, Celine in Las Vegas … Opening Night (CBS). The premiere—which included a song made famous by Frank Sinatra as well as the great "I Wish" by Stevie Wonder—was broadcast from the gleaming new Colosseum Theater at Caesars Palace. The $95 million Colosseum, which was custom-built for Celine, is now her home; she'll be performing there five nights a week for the next three years and taking home $100 million for her trouble.

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Justin Timberlake hosted the CBS special, which included a pretaped trailer, backstage interviews, bloopers, clips from the show (which is called "A New Day"), and a quick interview with Celine. In the interview, Celine unveiled her new look: golden, short hair; modest makeup, and a human-looking unbotoxed face. As usual, she looked super-slim; for five months, she's been rehearsing the show's many saltatory dance numbers. She told Timberlake that she was happy to be in Vegas, where she wouldn't have to cope with the unpredictable acoustics of the venues she plays on tour.

In concert, Celine, who has been resting her voice recently in preparation for the show, was unadulterated Celine. She still can turn out, with no trickery, on-the-money renditions of broad songs. And last night she also showed she could incorporate techy elements (created by Franco Dragone, the Cirque du Soleil designer) into her act, fly like Mary Martin, and sing about her black male childhood—all without cracking her easy sisterly persona.

Amid all the LED screens and big-tent touches—it was hard to follow the stagecraft on television, but it seemed to combine chiefly circus and video art—Celine did, at one point, mention the Events Overseas. "Let's try to focus on peace," she said, without just calling a war a war. "And let's try tonight to have a good time. All right? Let's do it. Let's have a good time."

Have a good time we did—at well under an hour, the CBS highlights from the concert whipped by—and Celine, the top-selling female recording artist in history, guaranteed her place as the silent majority's diva, the one whose music fills minivans, hair salons, prom halls, and lonely bedrooms.

She's also the one whose Titanic song, "My Heart Will Go On," can, dammit, still get to a person.