From Reuters: NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - During one of the more playful moments in Cher's long-running farewell concert tour, the redoubtable Oscar winner cracks a ringmaster's whip and issues a stern warning to would-be successors "J. Lo, Britney and Christina," challenging them to "top this, you bitches." Turns out she needn't have given those ladies a second thought. While formerly hot sellers like Mariah Carey have scaled down this summer because of poor sales, and others such as Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake aren't doing quite the hoped-for business, promoters continue to wring far more out of Cher's farewell than they -- or she -- ever could have imagined. After more than 140 shows, Cher's Living Proof Farewell Tour has grossed $130 million and enters its second summer as one of the season's strongest draws; her new greatest-hits CD, "The Very Best of Cher," just hit 1 million in sales and spent two improbable months in Billboard's Top 10; on July 6, NBC will rebroadcast the concert special that was a ratings-grabber in April; ABC's "Prime Time Live" just refreshed a 2002 interview for the third time with new footage; there's a concert DVD due in August; and Warner Strategic Marketing is also readying a long-awaited music video package on DVD for Oct. 28. "Hundred-million-dollar tours don't come along every day," says Ray Waddell, a senior writer at Billboard who tracks the touring industry. "Last year, she was the second-highest-grossing tour in the world, behind Paul McCartney." As for the hot album, Waddell says, "Sometimes the public just rediscovers (the music). She's riding that wave right now." Yet there was little fanfare or media coverage when the 57-year-old singer slipped quietly (for her) into New York's Madison Square Garden last week to celebrate the tour's one-year anniversary with two lively sell-outs. While she has pared at least four songs since the tour premiered, jettisoning a low-key segment that used to be a highlight, ovations from the all-ages crowd were as passionate as ever. Fans are rightly sensing her contentment onstage, a relaxed confidence that has often eluded her over her wide-ranging 40-year career. And so, what was originally slated to be a 50-date tour scheduled to wrap last year has now extended three times and will extend once more when promoters next month announce nine September dates. From there, the trek could go even longer. "I wouldn't rule it out," says Liz Rosenberg, senior vp at Warner Bros. Records, where Cher has been recording since 1995. "As I say to people all the time, it's a long goodbye. If she's not going to do (arena concerts) anymore on this scale and the show is such a success, she must feel that as long as she can keep doing it, she's going to." In fact, there has been no drop-off in ticket sales, even as the show returns to some cities two or more times, competing for leisure dollars with such top sellers as Dixie Chicks, the Dave Matthews Band and the Aerosmith/KISS double bill, says Brad Wavra, vp touring at Clear Channel, promoter of the Cher tour. "It's been beyond our wildest dreams," Wavra says. "We've done Omaha (Neb.) three times, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., three times, Cleveland three times, Topeka (Kan.) twice, Wichita (Kan.) twice, Oklahoma City twice. We've done six shows at Madison Square Garden, plus Nassau and New Jersey -- that's 15 in (the) New York (area) alone." The strong box office is clearly due in part to some fans attending more than once, the result of modestly priced tickets ranging from $32-$75 in the majority of markets. (Only in a few big cities do tickets exceed $75.) While some icons routinely charge prices of $200 and up, Cher and others like Bruce Springsteen -- also capped at about $75 -- are relative bargains. "Price does make a huge difference," Wavra says. "It's the difference between this success and other tours in the marketplace. This is a show that doesn't reach beyond the financial means of her core audience." Meanwhile, the best-of CD, at No. 15 next week, also continues to sell briskly, while her 2002 set "Living Proof" is still sending hits to the dance charts. "We didn't expect this," Rosenberg says. "Cher certainly didn't. The other day she looked at me and said, 'How did this happen?"' Theories abound about strong Mother's Day sales, a slew of upbeat prerelease TV commercials, the reminder power of a network special (and VH1's May replays), increased hits play on adult contemporary radio and fans yearning for the familiar in troubled times. Yet even Cher's own manager, Lindsay Scott, who acknowledges that his client "has had a career of confounding people," says he's surprised. "Every night she goes out there expecting to see an empty seat, and she never does," he says. Still that doesn't mean the show will go on indefinitely. "What we don't want," Scott says, "is to become cartoonish -- for people to say, when is she finally going to go away? The fact is she will go away, she's ready to go away, she's very serious about (leaving the road). "The impression I don't want fans to have -- and I think some of them do -- is that she's planning to drop out of sight completely. She's still young by modern standards and certainly very young-thinking and incredibly fit. There's still a lot she wants to do," Scott says. (Cher's film career adds another chapter with a role in the Farrelly brothers' December release "Stuck On You.") While the star and her handlers may be happily startled by this latest peak, there's at least one industry observer who isn't. "You can never be entirely certain about how the public's going to react," says veteran chart-watcher Geoff Mayfield of Billboard. "It also speaks to who's buying records. It's an older audience that has not been as diluted by peer-to-peer file-sharing and CD burning. You're talking about a consumer who doesn't mind going out and buying a CD. That Cher would be successful with a hits package that gets different corners of a career represented in one house, that's not a shocker." Reuters/Hollywood Reporter Those of us that have been following her for years knew that this could happen...it is about damn time!