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Jacko: From Cirque to reality TV show?

Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson deal may set a record for spinoffs.

Though still in the early planning stages, the joint venture tentatively includes Jackson-themed shows, restaurants and nightclubs, along with a choreography-driven reality show.

The Las Vegas component with the MGM Mirage will be just the start, Cirque President and CEO Daniel Lamarre said Tuesday during interviews with multiple media outlets.

The reality show concept would be a combination of "American Idol" and "Dancing With the Stars," he said.

"Right now there is a huge appetite for people that want to participate in this Michael Jackson tribute," Lamarre told MTV.com.

While not involved at this stage, Las Vegas dealmaker Jack Wishna, who orchestrated Jackson’s return to the U.S. for a comeback after his self-exile overseas, said he remains committed to a "big, big project" that could tie in to the others in 2012 or 2013.


There’s mounting concern that one-time ratings juggernaut "American Idol" is unraveling over the Crystal Bowersox dilemma.

Judging from the latest development, the "Idol" franchise has a budding public relations disaster on its hands.

Signs that Bowersox, the early favorite, was not a happy camper surfaced when the nine finalists came to Las Vegas 10 days ago to be mentored by Season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert for Elvis Week, which included a visit to Cirque du Soleil’s "Viva Elvis" show .

Vegas Confidential reported that Bowersox arrived at the Aria buffet with the finalists and their bodyguards but raised eyebrows when she chose to dine by herself.

A couple of days later, Bowersox dismissed that bit of information with this posting on the "Idol" Twitter site, @AI9Contestants: "Big news!! ‘Crystal Bowersox sits alone!’ We are surrounded by each other 24/7. I think I can sit alone for 15 min. if I want to. All is well here in idol camp:)"

Then came news from celebrity website TMZ.com that a stressed-out Bowersox told host Ryan Seacrest before the Vegas trip that she was planning to quit "Idol." Seacrest said he talked her out of it.

Bowersox, a single mom, suggested on the "Idol" Twitter site that she was going through some tough times. "We all have moments of doubt. As much as I miss my kid, the big picture is this: im doing this for him and my fans. I’m having the time of my life!"

Maybe not. Tuesday’s headline was: Bowersox, in her own words, sent a text saying she was "betrayed by Seacrest."

Here’s where the plot thickens: Because "Idol" contestants are not allowed to do interviews, it appears Bowersox got her side of the story out through a friend, Katelyn Epperly. Bowersox and Epperly had met during the semifinals. In an interview with her hometown radio station in Des Moines, Iowa, Epperly said she sent a text message to Bowersox, asking if she was really quitting.

"Crystal texted back: ‘I’m fine … betrayed by Seacrest!’" said Epperly. "She had a moment backstage and they made it into something it wasn’t."

Does Bowersox’s use of "they" suggest she smells a conspiracy to damage her chances and recruit Epperly to get the word out?

With "Idol" ratings slumping, Simon Cowell leaving and rumblings that at least one judge will be replaced next season, here’s a theory: "Idol" can’t afford to have this season’s winner damage the brand. If Bowersox is as difficult as we’ve heard — and the rumor is she won’t tour with her fellow contestants if she wins — "Idol" has its worst nightmare scenario.


"The airports in Europe are closed due to the volcano erupting. Smoke and ash is spreading all over Europe. Meteorologists originally thought it was coming from Willie Nelson’s tour bus." — Craig Ferguson

Norm Clarke can be reached at (702) 383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.

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