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October 17, 2017

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Britney Spears: New Planet Hollywood residency ‘is the best project I’ve tackled in my life’


Ronda Churchill/ABC

Britney Spears on ABC’s “Good Morning America” at Jean Dry Lake Bed in Jean, Nev., early Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.

Britney Spears on ‘Good Morning America’

Sam Champion of ABC’s “Good Morning America” interviews Britney Spears at Jean Dry Lake Bed in Jean, Nev., early Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.

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Pop princess Britney Spears finally confirmed early this morning that she has signed a two-year contract to headline a 96-show “Piece of Me” residency starting Dec. 27 at PH Live in Planet Hollywood. I posted the first whispered rumors of the mega-deal as far back as January of this year.

I’ve learned from her inner circle that she has the opportunity to extend the length of the contract, reportedly $15 million each year, and add shows during the two-year-run. The flexible weekend schedule will allow her to perform European and South American dates, but the only place to see her perform in America will be on the Strip.

It was still dark at 5:30 a.m. when, with an ABC live camera aboard a helicopter, she arrived at the Mojave Desert location of Jean Dry Lake Bed, 15 miles outside Las Vegas near Jean, to make the announcement on ABC’s “Good Morning America” with anchor Sam Champion. (Britney’s middle name is Jean.)

She also announced that her new album, “All Eyes on Me,” will be released Dec. 3 ahead of the shows. Britney, wearing a smart tailored black suit with a revealing blouse underneath that was cut open to her waist, admitted that she was a little queasy from the early 5 a.m. helicopter ride and circling above until landing time.

“I know this is going to be a lot of hard work, but I’m very ready for this," she said.

"I’m ready physically, mentally — definitely. I’ve been training sometimes for five hours a day. I’m also looking forward to spending a lot of family time in Las Vegas,” she said. “I love Vegas, and the energy here is really, really good. I’m definitely going to do my greatest hits but also add new material to keep it completely fresh.”

Britney said that her son Preston may very well join her onstage during the show occasionally and that her new album came about after breaking up with former fiance Jason Trawick: “I wrote a lot about the feelings from that. It’s the same for me as others — breakups suck.”

Planet Hollywood President David Hoenemeyer told me: “Construction of the PH Live theater will be completed by mid-November with 4,500 seats. She will load in the show then and have her final rehearsals. It will be a huge Vegas production schedule but also intimate.

Britney Spears and Jason Trawick at Paris Las Vegas

Britney Spears and Jason Trawick at the Paris on Dec. 16, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Britney Spears and Jason Trawick

Britney Spears and Jason Trawick celebrate Trawick's 40th birthday at Planet Hollywood on Dec. 16, 2011. Launch slideshow »

“The new theater is completely different because Britney wanted it to have a club-like atmosphere where she can get much closer to the audience than any other Vegas entertainer. She wanted the action of nightclub meets theater. It’s going to look spectacular. It’s a great project and already looks a lot different from how it used to look.”

Britney added: “I wanted the environment to be that way so people could come and have a good time, stand up and feel they are in the show with me.”

During the “GMA” appearance, she said that she had her first kiss when she was just 13 with Justin Timberlake, who coincidentally will be at Planet Hollywood on Wednesday night for the premiere of his new thriller “Runner Runner,” also starring Ben Affleck and Gemma Arterton.

“When I first started out, all I wanted was to make enough money to buy a nice house in Louisiana and have kids. I never thought I was going to continue what I do now. I really enjoy what I do. I have fun performing. I’m at home onstage. I feel blessed I’m able to do my job.”

Britney also said for Vegas DeLuxe: “I am really excited about these shows and my new Vegas home. We’ve been working hard on it, and it’s going to be completely different from what everybody might be expecting.

“We’re keeping all the details as secret as we can up until the opening. I honestly couldn’t be happier about what we’ve already created and worked on, and I’m really very happy about being in Las Vegas.

“At this moment, everything in my life is wonderful, and I know that, being inside the show as it all comes together for the December premiere, it couldn’t be more exciting. It’s the best project I’ve tackled in my life.”

Tickets went on sale to American Express cardholders this morning, and the general public will be able to purchase them as of Friday at Ticketmaster and the Planet Hollywood box office. Her first shows are at 9 p.m. Dec. 27, 28 and 30 and then at 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

She returns Jan. 29-31 and Feb. 1 and 4, with tickets on sale through Feb. 22, including for Valentine’s Day. There will be four special “Meet-and-Greet” VIP packages with prices to be set this week.

Britney waved to the 1,300 Caesars Entertainment employee volunteers and some 50 models dressed in her one-time trademark schoolgirl uniforms from “Baby One More Time” who had been bussed out to the desert starting at midnight.

They juggled double-sided jigsaw puzzle cards that when held up together showed the poster artwork for “Piece of Me” and a fan photo from “Toxic” with the welcome sign “All Eyes on Britney.” The displays measured more than 10 stories long and seven stories across.

Said Britney: “I’m in shock seeing this. I just can’t believe it. I’m speechless.”

After Britney’s “GMA” live satellite appearance, she sat for a brief interview with “Extra” host, Las Vegas regular and new dad Mario Lopez that airs tonight. She then flew back to L.A. for an interview with Ryan Seacrest on his nationally syndicated radio show.

Planet Hollywood head honcho David summed up: “This is huge, the biggest event in Planet Hollywood’s history. We couldn’t be more excited about what we’re seeing. It’s a great day. … The anticipation leading up to this has been spectacular. We’ve been working on this for many months, so it’s a great feeling to be at the finish line.

“Britney is in great spirits. She’s very excited about the show. Everything is good, and all systems with her are go.”

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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