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September 19, 2014

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Brainstorming who’s in and out as Elton John departs The Colosseum

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Leila Navidi

Elton John sings during his final performance of “The Red Piano” at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace Wednesday, April 22, 2009.

Before the giant, phallic apples-and-banana stage prop was deflated for the 241st and final time, Elton John plugged The Village People.

“Who’s going to fill my shoes?” Sir Elton asked. “You’ve got Bette Midler and Cher. Next, it’ll be The Village People.” Is this such a bad idea? The Colosseum is losing Elton John, whose “Red Piano” performances played for 4½ years and was a commercial and creative success in a 4,000-seat venue whose ticket prices (topping out at $225 apiece) were among the highest on the Strip. It’s a limited field of candidates that could replace him, no question. Anyone’s list should include Elton himself, as he not so subtly claimed near the end of the show. “I’ll see you with Billy Joel, and by myself, and one day I might even see you back in Vegas.”

Elton John's final show at The Colosseum

Elton John sings during his final performance of Launch slideshow »

But until then, how do you fill those 4,000 seats? I imagine, while typing, the meeting of AEG Live/Concerts West executives as they sort out who makes the vaunted “short list” of performers considered to play The Colosseum:

Executive I: OK, again, we are meeting to sort out who makes the vaunted “short list” of performers to play The Colosseum …

Executive II: Celine Dion!

Executive I: … and we need to think out of the box on this one. First, nobody is permitted to use the term “out of the box.”

Executive II: OK! I’m thinking out of the … out of the crate here. How about The Village People?

Executive I: Elton mentioned that from the stage in his last show, but I think he was joking.

Executive II: I know I laughed.

Executive I: The Village People are so past it. The Village People are so old, the military guy actually stormed Normandy!

Executive II: They’re so old, the American Indian guy posed for the Buffalo nickel!

Executive III: You know who’s not old? Celine Dion!

Executive I: What about Billy Joel?

Executive II: We didn’t start the fire!

Executive I: What! What fire?

Executive II: That’s his song. And, I love you just the way you are.

Executive I: You need a vacation.

Executive III: You know who’s on vacation? Celine Dion!

Executive I: I like Billy Joel. Note that. Do not note The Village People, unless we can package them with KC & The Sunshine Band and maybe Tavares for an All-Disco Extravaganza!

Stevie blows up the Street

Executive II: Hey, here’s another thought: Stevie Wonder.

Executive I: Has he ever seen The Colosseum?

Executive II: What the hell are you talking about?

Executive I: Oh. Sorry. But I saw him play “Superstition” on “Sesame Street” when I was a kid, so he’s in.

Executive II: I can see it -- “Songs in the Key of Live!” It’ll be great. Note that!

Executive I: What about going in more of a folksy direction with, say, Simon & Garfunkel?

(Sounds of silence)

Executive I: We might have to alert security.

Executive II: Why?

Executive II: So they won’t arrest them for loitering.

Executive I: But if we can get David LaChapelle to work his wizardry with the video screens, and get the dancers we had before …

Executive III: With -- who, kids? Who? Celine Dion.

Executive I: … Simon & Garfield might work, with that kind of staging. They have a ton of hits. Note that -- Simon & Garfunkel. Anything else?

Executive II: Hey, Jimmy Buffett does ridiculous ticket sales.

Executive I: Yes, but those fans … and we thought Cher’s fans dressed weird.

Executive II: We’d have to make sure the Parrot Heads and Cher fans are never allowed in the hotel at the same time. The place might implode.

Executive I: We’d have to put the gift shop on the roof, too, give ’em a conga-line destination. But note that -- I like me my Jimmy!

Executive II: What about Donny & Marie?

Executive I: Brilliant! They could fill the theater just with family members.

Executive II: They’re at the Flamingo now. They are already residents, and we could have a rotating group of lesser Osmonds join them onstage. Note that!

Executive I: My list tops out with Rod Stewart.

Executive II: Lots of hits, great performer -- when he shows up to sing, anyway. But I’m iffy on his age. What’s he, 70?

Executive I: He’s 62 -- same age as Elton, actually.

Executive II: Hmmmmm. OK, note that. Rod Stewart. But we have to tell him to go easy on the standards, which will make him seem really old.

Executive III: You know who’s not old?

Executive I: Celine Dion?

Executive III: Yes!

Executive I: We have to keep Celine on the list, for sure. Elton, too. What’s the term we use for them?

Executive III: “We are leaving the door open.”

Executive I: Damn straight. Note that!

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