Thursday, May 30, 2013 | 1:16 p.m.
Spice Girl and former “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood star Mel B, who played the first Peep Diva, returns here this weekend to celebrate her birthday and simultaneously lead the super boot camp for “America’s Got Talent.”
Mel is a new mentor and judge on Season 8 of the hit NBC show, which premieres Tuesday night. Host Nick Cannon also is here and will take on DJ duties at Hakkasan Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Mel joins Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and shock DJ Howard Stern for the “AGT” boot camp at PH Live, just below Mel’s former adult cabaret showroom. Terry Fator, who just hit his 1,000th show headlining at The Mirage, won Season 2 of “AGT.” Singer Michael Grimm, who won Season 5, landed his spot on the show from the Las Vegas boot camp auditions, and last year’s winners, The Olate Dogs on Season 7, have been performing at the Palazzo this spring.
Here is my Q+A with Mel from Wednesday:
“It’s my birthday, so I’m coming to Las Vegas to celebrate. Even though it’s my birthday, I’ve got a lot of work, press and promo to do because of the Tuesday launch of ‘America’s Got Talent,’ and we’ve got the super boot camp for ‘AGT,’ too.
“So it’s a birthday celebration and work combined. It’s going to be so much fun! Las Vegas is the place where the winner will end up with their own show. So a $1 million prize and their own headliner show. So it’s perfect to be with you to kick it all off. It’s the perfect test of how life could actually be. If you haven’t been to Las Vegas already, everyone needs to go to Las Vegas in their lifetime.
“I’ve always enjoyed my time in Las Vegas a lot. A lot!”
This is your first time on “America’s Got Talent”?
“Yeah, my first time on ‘America’s Got Talent.’ I’ve done ‘X Factor Australia’ and ‘X Factor’ in Britain, but this is my first time doing a full variety show and not just listening to singers. We’ve already had some auditions and seen everything from snakes attacking people to people climbing with ridiculously high poles without safety nets to 4-year-olds dancing onstage to somebody sticking swords down their neck. I mean it literally is a mixture of everything you can possibly think of, from incredibly talented to incredibly stupid.”
Has your mouth dropped open over anything, one particular thing where you said, “I never in my entire life have seen anything like that”?
“Well, there have been a few. One little shy girl came out. We have no idea what she’s gonna do. She pulls out her little puppet and she starts singing through the puppet in the most amazing operatic voice. She was so tiny, talking so quiet, and then this huge voice comes out of her puppet, and her lips aren’t even moving.
“Then we’ve had the stupid things. Six ducks onstage that did not know where they were going or what they were doing, and the poor woman was trying to convince us that they were well trained, but they were just frightened because of the audience and she was just running around catching them. There was no act; there was no trick. Just a mess of ducks everywhere.
“We’ve already had fun times, as well as some really amazing times where all four of us have stood up and just applauded. All of us — Heidi, Howie and Howard get along so well. Heidi and I are the new additions.
“I love Howard; I think he’s great. I think he can be a little bit grumpy sometimes because he’s used to going to bed early, and we’ve been doing 15-hour days. I just tell him off, I tell him off like he’s a naughty schoolboy and tell him to stop being grumpy and be constructive.
“He’s a very good judge because he gets it. He’s interviewed celebrities, he’s a celebrity himself, he knows what it takes to grab people’s attention. He gets what this entertainment world needs and what this show needs, too. Sometimes his comments are very caustic and sarcastic, but I find them actually funny.”
How long is the boot camp here in Las Vegas?
“Four days. It will be 15 hours a day for four days going through a whole host of contestants hoping to land a live spot on the show. We’ve got lots of contestants, nearly 400, and our job is to trim that down to about 40. We’ve got our work cut out.”
Returning to Planet Hollywood must be like coming home. I wonder if the bug will bite you again to appear on the Las Vegas entertainment scene.
“I don’t think I’ll have time to get to see ‘Peepshow,’ but if I do have time, I’d love to go see the show again. I know that they’ve made a few changes. It’s saucier now for the audience than when I was in it, so I’d love to go in there and say hi to everyone.
“I’d love to come back to Las Vegas sometime with my own show, if not with The Spice Girls, then by myself with something. Robin, clear up the incorrect information: The Spice Girls are not history!
“People keep wanting to say that every 5 seconds. If you look at how Geri [Haliwell] and I interact, how we all did the Olympics together, nobody realizes we were rehearsing for that for three weeks and at the end of the day we’re all still friends. People can try to twist it and say we hate each other, but actually, no, we love each other. It’s been 20 years, and it’s a long-lasting friendship that’s not going to stop.
“I hope we can tour again. It would be nice to do shows in the States. I’m really glad to be back in here and especially Las Vegas. It’s going to be a great weekend with my birthday and the ‘AGT’ boot camp.”
Mel will celebrate with her birthday dinner at Andrea’s in Steve Wynn’s Encore and also appear at one of the hotel nightclubs there. Then “AGT” boot camp starts Monday, with the season premiere Tuesday.
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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Catering to the young and modern crowd, Planet Hollywood is a one-stop shop for entertainment with its massive shopping mall, slew of restaurants, spacious casino and clubs.
The ambiance of the casino is retro-chic meets high-tech with black granite floors throughout and colorful LED lights throughout the space. The theme carries into the 100,000 square-foot casino with 250 flat screens topping off slot machines. The casino is also home to 87 tables, a sports book and a poker room.
There's also the Miracle Mile Shops, one Vegas' largest malls, with 140 stores including BCBG Max Azaria, bebe, Urban Outfitters and The Discovery Channel Store.
Following an afternoon of shopping, guests can satisfy their appetites at one of the gourmet restaurants in Planet Hollywood, like the non-traditional approach to steakhouses at Strip House or check out the exotic Far East motif at KOI restaurant and lounge. And if guests are still looking for more, they can spend the after hours at Privé, Triq or Krave nightclubs.
Perhaps one of the resorts biggest attractions came in March with the addition of "Peepshow." The naughty twist on the story of Little Bo Peep is modern-day spin on the run-of-the-mill Vegas topless review. The "Peepshow" stage has seen visiting celebs like Scary Spice Mel B, "Dancing with the Stars" Kelly Monaco and Playboy's Holly Madison.