Published Wednesday, June 8, 2011 | 12:05 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, June 8, 2011 | 4:16 p.m.
Country superstar Shania Twain has confirmed that she’s headed to Las Vegas as a the Strip's next resident performer, with her debut show Still the One at The Colosseum in Caesars Palace beginning in December 2012. Shania made the official announcement moments ago in a live Internet broadcast from Nashville, where she’s rehearsing for the first time in seven years at the Country Music Television Awards.
Shania’s noontime press conference confirms our earlier exclusive Vegas DeLuxe stories in early January and again last month. I will be talking to Shania at the end of her press conference, and we’ll update this report.
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The news follows 48 incredible hours of speculation about her new residency show. The news conference is being streamed live on her official Web site ShaniaTwain.com and also on CMT.com in advance of tonight’s telecast where she also is one of the presenters.
Shania is signing copies of her autobiography From This Moment On at the CMA Music Festival this week in Nashville. She has been promoting the book the past few weeks in an extraordinary PR blitz tied to her new reality TV show on The Oprah Winfrey Network.
It’s interesting when a notoriously private celebrity like Shania goes through a public divorce: On the one hand, you admire her staying above the fray and keeping details to herself -- you want that for her -- but on the other, you really, really want to know everything.
Three years after her husband and her best friend/assistant reportedly had an affair -- they’ve never admitted it to her; her friend’s husband, now married to Shania, broke the news to her -- Shania is finally talking. She has sat down with Meredith Vieira and Oprah in promoting the memoir and the series, Why Not? With Shania Twain, which debuts Sunday on OWN.
This morning on Today, Meredith was most interested in why Shania finally broke her silence and in such a grand way. Shania said that she realized she was obsessing about the death of her marriage and that while she’s not good at asking others for help, writing was always her form of expression. She wanted to write about something other than the betrayal she felt, so she began penning her autobiography, which put the divorce in perspective.
“I am genuinely a very private person, and I’ve probably been just too closed, and up to now, probably more closed than what was good for me,” she said. “And I also feel that a lot of that was just a bit of fear and anxiety, maybe worried about what people would think all the time, get criticized for it. And now I’m at a point where I feel sharing and giving testimony to a lot of things I’ve experienced in life will do more good for others than it would do keeping it to myself.”
Her talk with Oprah was more in-depth. She spoke about how she never got all the details she wanted about her ex-husband Robert “Mutt” Lange’s relationship with Marie-Anne Thiebaud, who Shania said had repeatedly comforted her when she asked Marie-Anne if she thought Mutt was acting strange. Mutt asked for a divorce, and the next day, Frederic Thiebaud, who said he’d discovered the affair in a “quite concrete way,” told Shania about it because Mutt and Marie-Anne refused.
The massive heartbreak Shania had already experienced in life made her want answers. ”Through my experience with my parents dying, the accident, for example, I was responsible for dealing with the lawyers and the insurance companies, and I had to know all the awful details -- how they died, every mark on their body,” she told Oprah. “It was hard at the moment, but I was able to then work through what I knew, and then in the end, I could come to understand it. By not understanding and knowing the details, your imagination is left to run wild.” Shania said she tried to call Marie-Anne, but she didn’t respond.
The anxiety of the divorce -- together with the fear she’s felt her entire life (she details family abuse in her memoir) -- literally silenced Shania, who’s been diagnosed with dysphonia, a condition in which those emotions restrict the muscles around the larynx and make it difficult for her to sing. Through the book and the TV show, she’s hoping to regain her voice.
“Stage fright, domestic violence in the home as a child, my parents dying, not knowing what’s next; just all of these different stages of fear in my life,” she said. “I’ve just trapped my own voice, and now I’ve got to unwind all that.”
Updated at 2:37 p.m.: In a long and wide-ranging exclusive one-on-one interview with Shania after her press conference, she told me that today’s announcement helped make her feel emotionally stronger and physically better as she progresses in rebuilding confidence and regaining full power in her voice.
“Today was very meaningful. It’s been a healing year, but I am now in a very happy place. I am genuinely excited about coming to Vegas to perform the show,” she told me. “My voice is stronger today than ever. My confidence is better than ever. Today really was a giant weight off my shoulders getting through the announcement -- and talking with you now.
“It’s made me feel wonderful. Happy is the right word to use, although it doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel. I’ve climbed a huge mountain and reached the top. I’m breathing rarified air. I’m now appreciating what I never realized I had. The whole experience I’ve been through has been cathartic. I had to go right to the bottom to get back to the top.”
Shania talked candidly with me about her production, rehearsal timetable and plans for the 60 Las Vegas shows she will perform each year for two years, and we’ll have that full interview with her right here at Vegas DeLuxe tomorrow.
I also talked with Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner and AEG chief John Meglen after the press conference. They talked about the “new era of entertainment” at Caesars Palace, and how Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, Sir Elton John and Shania are now the four huge superstars all under one roof at The Colosseum. We’ll have their comments tomorrow, as well.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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