Jackson ‘loved’ Cirque show idea

A Michael Jackson-Cirque du Soleil show was being discussed earlier this year, according to the Las Vegas agent who represented Jackson in a number of prospective deals.

Jack Wishna, who arranged Jackson’s return from self-exile after 18 months in Dubai and Ireland, said the Cirque du Soleil show would have featured Jackson’s music in the same way that Cirque created "Love" through a collaboration with The Beatles.

Jackson, who died Thursday at age 50, "loved the idea. He saw ‘Love’ (at The Mirage) and loved it," Wishna said.

Wishna said he met with Daniel Lemarre, CEO of Cirque du Soleil, and Cirque co-founder Gilles St. Croix in Las Vegas about six months ago.

"They were very interested in doing it as well," said Wishna, "but then Michael signed the 50-concert deal in London, and they wanted to see how that played out, see how he does."

Cirque officials were interested in launching the show outside Las Vegas, "maybe kick it off in Asia," Wishna said, because of concern that Las Vegas was nearing a saturation point with Cirque shows.

Wishna also revealed that Jackson’s Christmas 2006 return from overseas was specifically to launch his comeback in Las Vegas.

They worked on a deal for six months, and "it was going to happen" at a Strip resort that Wishna wouldn’t identify.

"It was going to be the largest deal in entertainment history, not just Las Vegas."

Jackson came up with a "brilliant" way to promote his show, Wishna said. He wanted to put a large moving statue of himself in front of the hotel whenever he was in residence. The statue, dressed in military regalia and moonboots, would move on a conveyer, duplicating Jackson’s iconic moonwalk.

But Jackson couldn’t pull the trigger.

"He mentally, physically and emotionally just couldn’t do it. He flaked out. One side of his brain was genius; on the other side he was a 12-year-old. Creatively brilliant, but a child," said Wishna, who met Jackson before the pop star’s child molestation trial in June 2005, which ended in exoneration.

The deal called for Jackson to perform only one weekend a month, Wishna said. The rest of the time it would be "Michael Jackson Presents," with a lineup including major R&B performers like Usher, Jay-Z, Jamie Foxx and others.

"All these guys who grew up idolizing him" would combine on an album with Jackson, Wishna said.

He said family friction surfaced early after Jackson arrived in Las Vegas.

At Jackson’s Summerlin residence, his father, Joe, "would come to the gate, and Michael refused to see him more than once. Joe called me and said, ‘Get Michael to call his mother (Katherine). It’s Christmas.’ Katherine tried an intervention. All the kids were here for it."

The legendary singer just recently started rehearsals for his mid-July comeback in London.

A source told me two weeks ago that AEG, the entertainment giant promoting his comeback, had serious concerns about his physical condition.

On June 14, I wrote here: "The ambitious comeback planned for Michael Jackson is on shaky legs. So many doubts have surfaced, I hear, about Jackson’s health that you can expect to hear any day now that the 50-date London-based concert schedule will be scaled back to about 15."

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Prop comic Carrot Top has signed a six-year contract extension at Luxor. The deal was announced Wednesday after his show during a gathering at Cathouse. He has been at Luxor since 2005. …

Magician Lance Burton, whose 13-year contract at the Monte Carlo expired, has scheduled a 3 p.m. news conference Tuesday at Brand restaurant, which suggests a new deal is done.

MAY I RECOMMEND …

First impressions of newly opened First Food and Bar at the Palazzo? Chef Sam DeMarco‘s appetizers just might be the best finger food in town, ranging from barbecued pulled pork egg rolls, to meat and potato bruschetta and mini-burgers with carmelized onions. The barbecued flatiron steak with cheesy grits has been getting raves. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night.

THE PUNCH LINE

"If you run a state and decide to leave the country for a week, since when do you have to tell someone?" — From David Letterman‘s "Top Ten Governor Mark Sanford Excuses"

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

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