Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2004 | 11:04 a.m.
International recording star Barry Manilow is following in the footsteps of Celine Dion and Elton John and will become a resident headliner in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas Hilton executives confirmed in a statement this morning what had been rumored for weeks -- that the singer of such classic pop hits as "Mandy" and "I Write the Songs" has agreed to a long-term, multimillion-dollar contract.
In a prepared statement, Manilow said:
"I've spent the last three months telling audiences that since I wouldn't be touring again, the only way to see me is if you come to my home.
"Well, I've got a new home ... the Las Vegas Hilton. Las Vegas is now the home to a large number of talented performers, and I feel lucky to be joining the group."
A news conference to announce Manilow's contract began at 10 a.m. today, and Manilow attended the event.
According to the Hilton statement, "Manilow: Music and Passion" will premiere Feb. 24. He will perform five times per week for 24 weeks, with the weeks spread throughout 2005 and into 2006, for a total of 120 shows.
Performances will be at 9 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Saturdays. Ticket prices will be $85, $115 and $145. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday. They can be purchased at the Hilton box office or by calling 732-5755.
For a ticket-cost comparison, Dion's prices at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace are $87.50, $127.50, $175 and $225. Elton John's tickets are the highest priced of any Vegas performer, with the best seats going for $250 -- cheaper seats are $100 and $175.
Hilton officials declined to release the details of the financial arrangement they signed with Manilow. However, based solely on ticket sales, the figure the hotel would gross could be between $17 million and $30 million. The range is arrived at by multiplying the Hilton theater's seating capacity of approximately 1,700 by the ticket prices and the 120 performances.
It was initially rumored that Manilow's deal would bring in $60 million for the entertainer.
In a prepared statement, Hilton Chief Executive and General Manager Rudy Prieto said: "This agreement with Barry Manilow, a superstar with worldwide appeal, helps extend and solidify the Las Vegas Hilton brand and the Resorts International brand overall.
"The Las Vegas Hilton, in signing this long-term agreement, is recapturing its entertainment glory with one of the most popular singers of our time."
Manilow began his career in the late '60s as a rehearsal pianist on and off Broadway and as a commercial jingle writer. For a time in the early '70s he was pianist for Bette Midler before going on to release more than 50 albums.
During one stretch he had 25 consecutive top-40 hits on the Billboard singles charts.
The 58-year-old singer/songwriter has sold more than 58 million records, among them "Could It Be Magic?" "Copacabana (at The Copa)," "Even Now," "This One's For You," "Weekend In New England" and "Tryin' To Get The Feeling Again."
Manilow also is a record producer, having produced for such artists as Midler, Nancy Wilson and Dionne Warwick.
Rolling Stone magazine has called Manilow a "'giant among entertainers" and "the showman of our generation."
Manilow, a resident of Palm Springs, Calif., recently completed what he said was his final road tour, "One Night Live! One Last Time!" in which he promoted his latest album, "SCORES -- Songs from Copacabana and Harmony."
He reportedly sold out every show on the 22-city tour.
Ron Dante, who discovered Manilow and produced or co-produced all of his records through 1981, says he believes Manilow meant it when he announced this was his final tour.
"For almost 30 years he's been knocking his brains out on tours," Dante said during a telephone interview from his home in Los Angeles. "It took a lot out of him.
"But he loves what he does. And this is a chance for him to perform for all of his fans without going on the road. They can come see him."
Dante may be best known as lead singer of the '60s group the Archies. He and vocalist/songwriter Andy Kim became international sensations with their 1969 recording "Sugar, Sugar," which was written for the cartoon series "The Archie Show."
At the time Dante was widely known in the advertising industry for being the voice in thousands of commercial jingles, including "You Deserve A Break Today" for McDonald's.
Dante said he discovered Manilow when Manilow was playing piano for Midler.
Dante and Manilow were filming a commercial together when Dante saw something special in his associate. He said after listening to Manilow sing "Could it be Magic?" he became his producer.
"During one six-year period we never left the top-10 singles charts," Dante recalled.
He said he and Manilow parted ways on friendly terms around 1982.
Dante, who is looking for a Vegas venue for his own show ("Saturday Night Blast"), says Manilow may be better today than he was when he was younger.
"He has learned to control that great instrument," Dante said. "He has gotten stronger and stronger -- when he sings 'Weekend in New England,' he stops the show every time, he puts so much emotion into it. He really connects with the audiences with most of his songs."