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Tina: "Sophia Loren talked me in". April 27, 2008

One Last Tour?

TINA TURNER, CHER & OPRAH SPILL SUPER SECRETS AT TALK SHOW TAPING: A VERY SPECIAL LUXE LIFE! For superstar TV titan Oprah Winfrey her taping with legends Cher and Tina Turner was memorable television—and maybe the best ever talk show of her career! Although both Cher and Tina have been interviewed separately by Oprah in the past this was the first time they all sat together—and the first time sice Divas Live,that Cher and Tina sang as a duo!

For 4000 lucky ladies packed into the Caesars Palace Colosseum at the weekend it was spilled secrets and gorgeous gossip at its finest:• Both mega-star singers revealed the hundreds of thousands they shelled out from their messy marriages.• Oprah, at 54, admits to a special thrill, being cuddled up to Tom Cruise on a snowmobile—and gives Cher his love-message!• Tina, at 68, admitted Oprah and Sophia Loren talked her into coming out of retirement for one last tour that will start this fall.• Cher, now 61, says that backstage she’s still in frightened panic before the ‘curtain up’ signal.• Oprah confided, in most startling details, the most intimate of her bathroom hygiene secrets.

The only way to describe this “almost ladies only” unique once in a lifetime gab-fest was akin to an Elvis Presley or The Beatles hysteria concert but as orderly as a Billy Graham stadium-packed evangelical revival. The guys were outnumbered a thousand to one with just five of us highly privileged ink-stained wretches let in to cover history-making TV! The other guys there were dressed as Cher & Tina Turner impersonators plus Mandalay Bay’s celebrity chef Rick Moonen, who just returned from taping an Oprah segment on “summer sandwiches” in Chicago. “She’s my new best friend,” he told me, “and she invited me to this show.”

Caesars Palace president, Gary Selesner joined his wife, Peggy in the front-row orchestra seats. Tony Hsiah, president of our hometown Zappos.com online shoe empire, who is main sponsor of our Las Vegas Marathon, sat right behind, but the spotlight really fell on our Strip female impersonators Larry Edwards as Tina Turner and Steve Shumate from La Cage at the Riviera as Cher.

Both went up on stage during the 50-minute audience warm-up to sing and dance, and Oprah ordered her cameras to get a shot of the sequin-sparkled drag queens during the taping for the May 8 broadcast—just two days after Cher’s red carpet star-studded gala premiere. For the Caesars Palace executive it was a glorious and incredible free 60-minute “commercial” for his Vegas headliner entertainment that will go around the world to more than 200 million viewers in 135 countries, plus more than 200 American TV stations. Gary told me, “This was an once-in-a-lifetime experience with three titans of iconic status on stage in our hotel all at once. It’s hard to say there’s ever been better. Cher is looking fabulous and everybody wants to see her. Even she is amazed, like us, at how well the show is selling. Her first run premiering a week from Tuesday is completely sold out and she’s breaking all of our box office records. She’s fitted into the show really fast with a shortened run of rehearsals and has great confidence. It’s a winner and will be the hottest show in town. It’s like Elvis all over again—everybody wants a memory of her, a piece of her magic. It is extraordinary to see the rebirth of a female megastar all over again at 61 years of age.”

Cars jammed and fought their way through nearby cross streets to get into the casino-resort. A dozen different lines of ladies, sometimes four deep, snaked everywhere through slot machines and around gaming tables. One went right out to the adjoining Forum Shops mall before the Colosseum doors were opened at high noon. It took almost an hour to load in the audience!

I said hi to Oprah’s best female friend Gayle King, who I’ve known for many years back when we both worked in Connecticut. Oprah’s top producer told us: “After last night’s final rehearsal of two days of run-throughs and watching Tina and Cher sing together this may well be the best show of Oprah’s career.” There is no question that it was incredible and memorable magic television at its commercial finest!

Oprah fans had traveled from as far away as Puerto Rico, Halifax, Nova Scotia and Milwaukee to attend. They were given a 49-minute, 20-second warm up during which they were pre-taped clapping, yelling, hollering, ooh and aahing, laughing and ordered to keep the lip-gloss going through commercial breaks so they shined for television. Everybody had been asked to wear colorful clothing so there were no drab black or grey outfits! To ease the 120-minute wait until show time our local “queens,” Larry as Tina performed and danced to “Proud Mary” and Steve did Cher’s “I Believe in You.” A US Airways station manager also volunteered from the audience to perform his Tina Turner impersonation!

Suddenly though just moments after 2 p.m. Oprah made a solo entrance in sparkling shoes, “my one-hour Vegas shoes,” a shiny-bronzed-grey dress and the audience erupted! “It’s Vegas and I’m holding a pair of queens,” said Oprah referring to the two 70’s living legends. “It’s their very first interview together anywhere and we’re reuniting them for their first special performance together sice Diva's Live in 1999.”

First up was Cher who admitted that before she and her partner were known as Sonny & Cher they were Caesar and Cleo! We got the first glimpse of her new Caesars Palace show that premieres in just 10-days time. A large glassed globe, set against a two-decker silver staircase, rose through the stage floor with lights swirling inside it, and as it broke away out stepped Cher in a blue-green sparkling sequined cut-away slashed away costume. She sang “Take Me Home” while dancing with 14-male and female dancers costumed in bright yellow, lime-green, orange, and blue 70’s psychedelic outfits.

You would never know as she “tripped the light fantastic” from side to side of the giant stage that she was in her 60’s. She may well be in the greatest physical shape of her life and after thunderous applause she gave two quick curtseys and enthusiastically yelled: “It’s going to be a fabulous show. I’d say that even if I wasn’t in it and to be honest, I’d prefer I wasn’t, so I could watch it from the front row.”

The stage crew set two large stool-height chairs for their side-by-side session as Cher changed into a more modest black gown wrapped around her fishnets. Oprah’s first comment was “if Cher looks like this at 61 that will keep me off the burgers”! She told the crowd that Cher had signed a 3-year deal with Caesars for 200 performances.

Then she revealed that she had a secret love-message from Tom Cruise for Cher. “I have had such a great life, sitting here now with Cher and Tina, and yesterday with Tom Cruise,” said Oprah. I was at his home in Telluride, which may just be the most beautiful of anything anywhere in the world that I’ve ever seen. I didn’t jump on his couch or take my shoes off. We were riding on a snowmobile; I was on the back holding onto his waist. There’s something about being scooched up to his butt that I wanted to sing “Take Me Home.” Now I know what Katie sees! That Oprah episode will air this Friday, May 8.

“I was never going on tour again. At 100 you just don’t do that but I like doing this and I don’t want to give it up. Back then Vegas was nowhere near as nice as it is today. I did two shows a night, seven days a week in the main room. But I had to get back into shape for this new show. I didn’t weight 500 pounds, but there’d been too many donuts and cupcakes. I had to whip myself back into shape. I get very conscious of what I’m eating. I’m not a bad eater but sometimes I had a tendency to forget to eat all. That’s not good for you because it slows down your metabolism. I was ever only on two diets, the heartbreak diet when I broke up with a guy, or the I’ve just met the coolest guy in the world diet. I would eat seven little meals a day, do a lot of walking and different exercises on the Power Plate that astronauts use. I worked on it all day long for four-straight months to get back into shape,” Cher told Oprah.

Oprah told us that Cher has 17 different costume changes in the new show, all created by designer Bob Mackie who has worked 40 years with Cher. She showed a backstage video clip of the twosome, “deep down in the belly of the beast below the stage,” going through the wardrobe: as Laverne there will be a Pink Warrior costume for Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield,” then a body-length Indian head-dress outfit and “Cleopatra comes to Caesars” where all the pieces peel off until “its almost illegal,” exclaimed Cher. “I was the first woman to show a belly button on TV, so we’ve really updated this for Vegas”! She also revealed she’d dug back in the video-vaults and even found footage from before she married and started working with Sonny Bono and on a dairy farm in Belgium for their “Beat Goes On” and “ It’s the Little Things” old-time duo hits.

“It was amazing to go through my photo-albums and see all this pop-art that we’ve now brought to life for the show,” said Cher. Wait till you see the huge Laverne production number “Its Gotta Be Me.” Then she admitted, “I’m terrified about all of this. I’m standing backstage frightened out of my mind saying ‘I can’t do this.’ Then my choreographer tells me, “If God didn’t want you to do this he wouldn’t have looked down on your cradle and said “SEQUINS.” She confided with Oprah that Caesars is paying her “pretty good” in comparison to her very poor early days when she put rubber-bands around her worn-out shoes to stop them flopping. She recounted a previous story she’d told me many years ago about how she’d buy two frying pans when she had money for fear she’d one day go poor again and wouldn’t be able to afford the replacement!”

The taping was then delayed when Cher told Oprah her right fake eyelash was falling off. Oprah’s makeup artist couldn’t be found so a woman in the audience loaned her eyelash glue! Cher then continued, “I’ve been doing this for 45 years. It seems so crazy because back on our old TV show I’d say that anybody who reached 30 had to work on Carol Burnett’s show and I’d reached the age where there was no place for me to go.”

It was then time to introduce rock and roll goddess Tina Turner, now 68 and a grandmother but still able to sell out stadiums around the world. Tina who lives in Switzerland and France revealed she’ll go on tour again, “one last time.” She said Oprah, in a 2005 interview, had pushed her to go out again on the road and then both the actress Sophia Loren and designer Giorgio Armani had told her in Milan that she’d had enough rest and retirement. So tickets will now go on sale May 12 for the USA tour set to hit every American city starting in Kansas City this October. “You can never forget the fun you can put into the lives of people,” said Tina who ended her retirement by joining Beyonce at the recent Grammy Awards. “Out of sight in recent years but not out of shape,” exclaimed Oprah, who showed candid rare behind-the-scenes footage of Tina and Beyonce rehearsing their historic duet.

Oprah said she’d stopped by Tina’s home in Switzerland with best friend Gayle in tow, on one overseas trip “and we decided without hair or makeup to go anonymously shopping with Tina. However, she was in cashmere, boots and a mini-skirt and marching down the street we were the help”! Tina’s comments about “now you know the other side of Oprah,” will be edited out in the final broadcast she laughingly promised.

But you will hear Tina and Cher talking about their previous husbands, Ike and Sonny, although Tina never mentions him by name. “I admired Cher’s freedom and independence, she looked as if she was in control of her life and career,” said Tina. “I got sued from all the lost cancellations of shows from my situation (referencing Ike Turner), it was blood money but I was happy to pay my way out of it,” she adds. Cher revealed she’d owed Sonny $2 million when they divorced even though she had the kids. “I worked, I stayed on the road after the judge ruled that the $7 million in contracts we had I had to pay Sonny the money he would have made if I hadn’t pulled out.”

“I welcome being at this stage of my life with open-arms; my senior life is so much better than when I was young. My attitude is great. I’m still healthy and I look good so I don’t mind being 68,” said Tina. “It’s not the same today at our age as it was for our mothers,” added Oprah who admitted to being 54. “Thirty was a realization for me of the simple things. I met Ike at 18 and Cher met Sonny at 16. When they went we didn’t even know how to write our own checks. We only got a little allowance to live on while they handled all the money,” added Tina. The best thing we did together was on stage because there we were equal, but off stage I was just a junior partner. After the divorce I had to learn how to be a woman for the first time in my life. The learning curve started after the divorce and it was very difficult making mistakes in front of thousands of people,” said Chre. “I was afraid people would know that I didn’t know anything. It took both of us to be on our own to get in control of our lives and careers. I didn’t feel I needed shelter and protection. I just felt I needed proper management,” she added. “I had all the energy but without direction. I was the genie let out of the bottle that Sonny had kept me in. I just needed help but as I got older I discovered I didn’t need help. I did it all for myself.”

Cher admitted then that she had once dated Tom Cruise and Oprah said he sent greetings from Telluride. “I was crazy about him,” confessed Cher. “He was shy. He had no money. He said he felt (like) such a boob and nobody talked to him in school. We went on a date once for dinner in a New York restaurant and the waitress was from his old school. He told me she never talked to him back in school but now he was recognized he got all her attention! It could have been a great big romance because I was crazy for him.” She confided to Oprah that she’s not currently dating anyone, “Dating is a strange thing. It’s not every man who can be comfortable with me, being Mr. Cher is a hard thing and difficult for him to hold his place. Tina’s had the same man the last 22 years and he’s comfortably in his place.”

Tina then performed her classic “Nutbush City Limits” with three dancers, two backup singers and a six-piece band, while Cher and Oprah sat front row in The Colosseum dancing and swaying to the performance. Oprah promised the audience she’d be back to see Cher’s new show at Caesars and that she was also going on the road with Tina. Cher then changed into red boots, a black wig and red shimmering mini-dress while Tina zipped into a mini-skirted silver striped sequin costume for their historic duet of “Rolling on the River,” encouraging the audience to sing along with them both. Eventually Oprah even joined them to make a trio for the last reprise of the song and then they all wound up in a group hug, which is probably how the May 8 telecast will end.

Due to technical hiccups both Cher’s opening number and Tina’s solo number had to be re-taped for editing purposes, along with a second version of Tina’s revelation about returning on tour. While they changed again for the re-tapes Oprah chatted candidly with the crowd. So candidly she even reveled in telling the bathroom secrets of her penthouse super-villa in the Augustus Tower at Caesars!

“I’m staying in this high-roller suite—the best in the world. It’s so exciting here at Caesars. I played in the shower it’s so large. It has a talking shower, music, a wall of water shower. But it’s the toilet—the seat lifts itself. I had to ask how you flush it. You get a rear clean, a front clean, can you believe it totally cleans you, even your butt is cleaned and then air dried with a nice scent. It’s so incredible I’m going to put the toilet on the show. I told the toilet ‘you’re amazing and you are the future.’ I used it four times it’s so nice, everybody should have one. I’m very clean. I am so cleaned up and cleaned out that I’m coming back here for more.” The ladies howled with laughter and applauded with cheers!

Oprah admitted she’s only been nervous twice in her incredible 22-year-TV-talk career, “My knees started shaking when I realized I had no plan B in place when I interviewed Michael Jackson live to the world, but he did answer the questions so it became ok. The only other time was the first time with Tina in the late 90’s. I was her biggest groupie at her last farewell LA concert. I even had her wig, until Steadman told me that had to go! My knees were hitting each other. I had 1 minute, 37 seconds left in her song and I’m dancing on stage with her. Tina said ‘you really can’t dance can you?’ Then I realized nobody cared if I could dance or were even watching me so I just let go and enjoyed the moment.“

Before I left the theater I had to confirm Oprah’s bathroom hygiene tale with the Caesars president. He told me the Toto super toilets with heated cushioned seats were in the top floor villas of the Augustus Tower where they were all staying. “It is the ultimate in hands-free,” he laughed. “It is a total luxury in the villas, which are reserved just for high-rollers who are prepared to wager a million dollars a day when they play with us. They are so exclusive we don’t even rent them with a price-tag!” If you are curious about the $5000 super-john, Toto Washlet Neorest Toilet, that Oprah fell in love with go to gizmodo.com for the Kohler C3 American made version. Does it get any more intimate than this? Who else other than Luxe Life would dare post all those delicate details?

Summing up—it was an extraordinary afternoon of television. By 4.pm the ladies were on their way home to more normal lives of dinner and dishes after gorgeously-glowing in the glory of Oprah, shining in the sensational-splendid spirit of Cher and treated to the tremendous-triumphs of Tina. Inspirational? Yes! Entertaining? Yes! Informative? Oh yes! And as Tina herself said—not once, but three times—“Supah, Supah, Supah.”

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