One of the most ambitious welcome parties is planned for the official Dec. 3 arrival of pop princess Britney Spears ahead of her new Planet Hollywood residency starting Dec. 27. It’s going to be one of the most outrageous, over-the-top promotions ever planned on the Strip.
Major celebrities have already confirmed their front-section VIP tables for the world premiere of “Piece of Me” at Planet Hollywood.
The festivities coincide with the release date of her new album “Britney Jean,” for which she revealed its setlist this morning, and little sister Jamie Lynn joins Britney on the duet “Chillin’ With You.” Will.I.Am and T.I. also worked with Britney on the new album, which includes her dance anthem “Work, Bitch” and “Perfume,” which debuted this week.
This morning, Britney, in sweats, sneakers and her hair in a ponytail, blocked her show from start to finish with her dancers for the first time on a Los Angeles sound stage. “She absolutely killed it,” a reliable insider told me.
“This will be her best show. She’s more determined than ever that this is the best ever. She wants to be full out, and she’s giving every ounce of her energy to it — it’s 120 percent dancing hard, singing hard and moving hard.
“She’s right back at those early days. Her spirit is unbelievable. She looks great, sounds great and is moving great. We don’t have all the bells and whistles here. We don’t have the lighting and video until we get to Las Vegas, but it’s already really amazing at this stage.
“This morning, everything worked out as well as anybody could want. She has total confidence — she knows the whole show; she has all the choreography down and the movements with all the songs she’ll sing.”
Britney, 31, continues costume fittings for her final stage outfits Thursday. On Friday, she will be on the cover of the new fall/winter issue of Vegas Player Magazine being distributed to Caesars Entertainment guests across America.
Publisher Rod Musum told me: “She’s genuinely excited and very eager to begin her shows here. It was a great interview. Settling down and working in one place had a lot of appeal for her.”
Here’s a sneak peek from Vegas Player: “When you tour, it’s so hard on the body,” said Britney. “I look back, and I don’t know how I did it. Being in one place is cool. It’s a more stable environment” — not only for her but also for her two sons, Sean Preston, 8, and Jayden, 7, who will be making trips here.
“Las Vegas is a fun place,” Britney told the magazine. “There is so much going on. The energy here is incredible. You feel it walking through the casino. Everybody is here to have a good time.”
Britney admits that the schedule of 96 shows over two years will be grueling, and she will split time between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. She’s in amazing shape and says she’s ready for the challenge and has been working since summer with a personal trainer as many as four times a week.
“I have not been this sore in my entire life,” she told Vegas Player’s Ryan Slattery. “When I started working out, I was sore for three days. I could hardly move. I’m really challenging myself with the choreography.”
She is focused and determined to show the world a different side of herself when she takes the Planet Hollywood stage. She wants “Britney: Piece of Me” to be high energy and high fashion, bringing back some of her iconic looks. It is a concert in a nightclub-like atmosphere with VIP tables.
Britney continued: “Whenever I do a show, I’m really keen on making it a show. I love to dance and perform. Because it’s Vegas, I want to do something different. This is the perfect place to bring it to the next level. Ever since I was little girl, I never could sit still. I was always doing something. Jumping up and down, moving around.
“I was annoying! People would come to the house and say, ‘Does she ever sit down? Does she ever calm down?’ My mom was just so used to it because that was the way I was. I always loved to pretend I was onstage performing.”
Asked if there was an artist she admired growing up, she counts Otis Redding, Sheryl Crow and Whitney Houston among her music influences. “It’s hard to pick one person” she said. “I looked up to so many, actually. I love Shania Twain.”
The country superstar performs just across the Strip at Caesars Palace and will be here through Dec. 14 before Celine Dion resumes Dec. 30. Expect to see Britney at Shania’s show and vice versa.
Featured on “Star Search” as a young girl, Britney’s first album, “Baby One More Time,” was released in January 1999 and sold more than 10 million copies that year.
“It was kind of like a dream,” she recalled. “I’m from a small town, and I wasn’t expecting anything. When it happened, it was kind of surreal. I got so busy traveling that I was oblivious to it all. I didn’t even realize what was happening. It was like a dream that I never woke up from. It was pretty spectacular.”
Since summer, Britney also has had a nonstop schedule of dance and choreography classes, rehearsing new routines for “Piece of Me.” Costumes and wardrobe, including the sexy, cutaway, sparkly leotard she wore for the magazine photos, are being finalized. She skipped this year’s MTV Video Music Awards to continue preparations at a Thousand Oaks, Calif., dance studio.
Britney has just become an ambassador for the 2014 VH1 Save the Music Foundation joining stars promoting music education in schools. She will arrive here right after Thanksgiving, and the closed, onstage rehearsals start Dec. 10 at Planet Hollywood. “I’m really excited — ‘Piece of Me’ is a labor of love. I can’t wait to perform it,” Britney added.
One of my friends who watched today’s debut run-through told me: “Opening night will be the most amazing event, the most incredible night of her life.”
If you were blown away with Shania’s horseback arrival at Caesars Palace and CeeLo Green’s flaming piano on a flatbed truck along the Strip, get ready for even bigger and better with Britney. “You will not believe your eyes with what is being created for her simultaneous album launch and official Vegas welcome,” my inside source told me.
A unique towered metal-cage structure will be propelled along the Strip featuring contortionists, pole dancers and other burlesque beauties from her album “Britney Jean” and single “Work, Bitch.” The mechanical “tree of life” will wind up at Planet Hollywood, where Britney will make a fiery entrance to kick off her residency and be officially welcomed to Las Vegas.
Her first set of shows start Dec. 27, with tickets on sale through Feb. 22. Her second set of dates with ticket sales also will be announced Dec. 3. Check back often for all the updates and breaking news on Britney’s show.