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April 23, 2014

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Christmas show and ‘Loberace’ are the start of CeeLo’s Strip conquest


Tyler Golden/NBC

Carson Daly and CeeLo Green on NBC’s “The Voice.”

Superstar CeeLo Green plans to conquer the Strip with a longer run of his new show “Loberace” debuting in February and hopes it will develop into a full-blown entertainment experience that makes him a resident Las Vegas headliner.

“I have taken on the name ‘Loberace’ not as theft but as an homage to someone whom I adored. I respect the bravery of entertainers and their contributions to creative culture. I just want to pick up that torch and carry it even farther.

“I believe somebody has to do it, so why not CeeLo Green?” he told me in an exclusive interview on Monday. “If I had a blank check, I would have done anything and everything to give people the greatest show on Earth.”

CeeLo Green

The 38-year-old singer-songwriter and producer took a break from crammed rehearsals between his NBC hit “The Voice” and his one-night-only Christmas show Wednesday at Planet Hollywood to talk with me. The latter promotes his new holiday album out Oct. 30 and benefits our beloved charity Keep Memory Alive. CeeLo took part in the Muhammad Ali TV special for Keep Memory Alive paying tribute to the champion’s 70th birthday in February 2011.

Wednesday’s holiday show features Caesars Palace headliner Rod Stewart, the Muppets and 19 of “The Voice” contestants and premieres Nov. 26, on the new Warner Music Group Sound YouTube channel at

CeeLo and I worked together on an Eminem music video project for Slaughterhouse this year and talked about the Christmas special filming here Wednesday and the development of “Loberace,” which premieres Feb. 27, both at Planet Hollywood. “Loberace” was delayed until the end of his current “Voice” schedule as a mentor judge.

Robin Leach: You’ve got Rod Stewart, you’ve got the Muppets, you’ve got “The Voice” contestants. What other surprises do you have up your Santa Claus suit sleeve for Wednesday night?

CeeLo Green: I think it is going to be really well articulated and executed. I believe that it will truly be something very special for the holiday season with a really positive and profound energy. I’m proud to be a part of it. I’ve got so much stuff to give. Baby, it’s cold outside, but you’ve got your hands full with CeeLo Green. There is no doubt about that.

CeeLo Green

R.L.: Is Christmas a special time of the year to you?

C.G.: Definitely -- especially when you are doing what you love with spirit and generosity, when those type of things come natural to you. Every day you get a chance to do what you love, and mine just happens to be music. It really is the gift that keeps on giving. Every day of my life is very fulfilling.

There is a bittersweet balance to it, being that doing what I love keeps me away from family. My family, they are all still in Atlanta. With that being said, Christmas is very important and special because it is a formal time that I totally set aside for family.

R.L.: Do you think you’ll be back home with the family for Christmas?

C.G.: I do. I’m actually going to London for Thanksgiving and taking them all to London with me. We are going to have Thanksgiving in London. What’s great about it is I get a chance to share the success and culture with my kids. It’s wonderful they are able to travel and be a part of the actual mechanics in making such a big move.

Who knows at some point down the line they may even find themselves interested in entertainment and music. They will definitely be informed if ever they decide to follow in their father’s footsteps. I feel like I’m killing a couple birds with one stone; educating them and also giving them culture and also sharing my success and spending quality time together.

Cee Lo Green and ‘Jubilee!’ at Hollywood and Highland

Cee Lo Green and Launch slideshow »

Definitely we are going to make this Thanksgiving something that we have never done, and Christmas will be traditional just being at home with Grandmamma and eating and enjoying each other’s company.

R.L.: What is your favorite track on the Christmas album that you will be performing Wednesday?

C.G.: Believe it or not, every cover of every classic Christmas song I breathe my soul into it, and they are all very special renditions. Also, to the mastery of Adam Donald, who did a wonderful job of producing this album.

You know, everything is special. It’s truly a magic moment all throughout. But you know me, I have a quirky sense of style and music, so I’ve gotta say the one that truly I enjoy listening to, like an out-of-body experience, is, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

R.L.: Do you realize yourself that you are now the busiest man in show business with TV, records, concerts and preparing a residency in Las Vegas?

C.G.: It does seem like that, doesn’t it? I am pretty sure everybody is doing 100 percent of what they are involved in, so I can’t discredit anyone else who is truly working hard -- so many hard-working Americans. As far as me in this industry, I am certainly multitasking, and I think I am doing a respectable job.

There is some of that movie magic there, too; some of these things are pre-recorded, like “The Voice” will be on TV and someone will see me at the gas station at the same time and wonder how I’m in two places. I usually get a block of time to rest and get braced for the next thing. I am working very hard, and it is paying off, so, therefore, the most gratifying part about this is I know that I deserve what success I have because I am working very hard.

R.L.: You sure are. Tell me how “Loberace” is progressing because all of Las Vegas is waiting for it with baited breath.

Cee-Lo Green at the Hard Rock Hotel

Cee-Lo Green at the Hard Rock Hotel on May 22, 2011. Launch slideshow »

C.G.: Well, it is progressing positively, and we are being productive. I really feel like this could be what would be square one in a larger goal that we would like to accomplish, a larger task that we would like to take on. I hope everybody is pleased. It truly is a passion of mine to satisfy people, to shock them with spectacle, sound, sight, color, creativity and charisma. All these different things are very important to me. Let’s just say it is a big responsibility in doing so.

This first trial run, what it will be technically, we are in all hopes that it goes over well. This 30-day run that we are going to do starting Feb. 27 at Planet Hollywood, we are hoping that everyone knows that we are there to stay, and therefore, we extend it in that kind of way. I know that everybody is excited about the project, especially us.

I know there will be a few out there waiting for me to fail, but that is me just trying to be brutally honest with myself. I always go into a situation grounded and reality based. With all that, all I feel is positive energy and support.

The only thing we did not do with this show is what our budget could not afford. Trust me, if there was a blank check, I would have had fireworks, dragons, unicorns, you name it. I would have done anything and everything to give people the greatest show on Earth.

R.L.: It will still be the greatest show on Earth. One question just to clarify: If “Loberace” goes over well, you’ll extend it, or you will expand it into a bigger form of a resident spectacular?

C.G.: Definitely. Each show has to start somewhere to where you have to get out of body to look at it and see exactly what it is, make the assessment of the pros and cons, and then fine tune from there. In all honesty, we will be growing in front of people, as well.

CeeLo Green

It’s no different then me going back to see “Love” [the Cirque du Soleil and Beatles show at the Mirage] three or four times. There is a part of me that is looking to see if I could see anything that is slow from the last time. That is one thing that I respect from the work of entertainers in Las Vegas: It is perfection each time.

Every time I go back to “Love,” I am taking someone to experience it again. It is always brand new, it always gives me this fantasy, but it is very fundamental for me, as well, because I am watching and trying to learn and taking pages out of that constant professionalism that they all seem to be practicing on a daily basis.

I can only hope that I can work as hard to perfect my craft and respect the craft. I am there to learn, and I am there to be a student, which is why I have taken on the name “Loberace” not as theft but as an homage to someone whom I adored. I respect the bravery of entertainers and their contributions to creative culture.

I just want to pick up that torch and carry it even farther. I believe somebody has to do it, so why not CeeLo Green?

R.L.: I can’t wait for you to drive the Rolls-Royce across the stage and step out in the biggest, brightest fur coat of all time. All the flashy costumes and eye-blinding jewelry.

C.G.: Oh, yes, sir. We can’t wait, either. Please thank all of Las Vegas for having me.

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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