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Where will Cirque’s Michael Jackson show land?

Michael Jackson will indeed provide Cirque du Soleil’s next soundtrack in Las Vegas. He might even be in it, thanks to cutting-edge technology such as holograms. Cirque and the late singer’s estate today confirmed long-running speculation that a Jackson-themed show will follow titles themed to the music of the Beatles and Elvis Presley.

However, the show will tour in a different version before it lands here. The Jackson show will first be an an arena tour with its U.S. debut in late 2011 at an MGM Mirage property on the Strip — presumably either the MGM Grand Garden or the Mandalay Bay Events Center — while a permanent edition is being readied for a still-unnamed property.

Cirque president Daniel Lamarre said today the touring edition will be "more like a simulation of a Michael Jackson (concert)." It will tour North America for a year. The permanent edition to follow would be different in content, more in the theatrical style of "Love" and "Viva Elvis" but on the edge of technology such as 3-D and holographics. Once it opens, the touring version will continue to play overseas to take advantage of Jackson’s continued popularity outside the United States.

The permanent show will open in late 2012 at an MGM Mirage property not named in today’s release. But the release does promise “special lifestyle projects, including a nightclub to open with the Las Vegas production” and perhaps a museum.

“Having attended Cirque du Soleil performances with Michael, I know he was a huge fan,” John Branca, co-executor for the Jackson estate, said in the release.

 “As a creative challenge, this project is the ultimate,” Cirque’s top executive, Guy Laliberte, said in the release. “Through the use of cutting-edge technology, we will produce a Cirque du Soleil experience not only worthy of Michael but unlike any other we have created before.”

So the guessing game on “where” begins. Cirque officials say two or three venues are under consideration, but the Jackson opus will not replace an existing title. But for the sake of just-for-fun, Oscar-type odds, we’ll give them the right to change their minds.  Here’s today’s line, with my guesses in descending order:

— Mandalay Bay, 1 to 10 odds: “The Lion King” always seemed like a place holder until Cirque was ready for the theater. The Disney production could enjoy a respectable run of two years or even longer, depending on how much time Cirque needs to remodel the room.

— Monte Carlo (3 to 1) or or Excalibur  (6 to 1) odds: The Lance Burton theater and “Tournament of Kings” venue both seem like they would be in play, but both would require extensive expansions to get to the size needed for the anticipated crowds of a Jackson revue.

— Luxor, 5 to 1 odds: On the other hand, Cirque could throw in the towel and close “Criss Angel: Believe” to make way for the new “Thriller.”

— New York-New York: 6 to 1 odds: “Zumanity” is another title that might be deemed ready to retire by the end of 2011.

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