In a World Exclusive Interview, Michael Jackson Talks About His New Life in Vegas and His Comeback Posted Feb 5th 2007 7:06PM by Robin Leach Filed under: Shows, Celebrity, Luxe Life Michael Jackson’s long-awaited return to ‘King of Pop’ status has begun and it’s being masterminded by the mysterious, secretive British entertainment tycoon who is behind the phenomenal success of Simon Cowell’s ratings juggernaut ‘American Idol’ and David Beckham’s $250-mega-million deal that is bringing the soccer king to the United States. I can exclusively reveal that megastar producer-manager, Simon Fuller, has held top-secret strategy planning meetings in Vegas with Michael and Emmy award-winning director-choreographer, Kenny Ortega, who has created two of Michael’s previous smash, sell-out world tours. By the way, Kenny won his first Director’s Guild of America award on Sunday for outstanding achievement with his ‘High School Musical’ production for Disney.
They invited me to join their dinner in a private room behind the watchful eyes of 2 security guards at Steve Wynn’s Wing Lei Chinese restaurant at the mogul’s Wynn resort hotel and casino. It’s Michael’s fourth visit to the Epicurean Award-winning restaurant since moving to Vegas ending his 18-month self-imposed exile from the US living in Dubai and at Michael Flatley’s castle in Ireland. [img]http://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.vegaspopular.com/media/2007/02/mj-robin-vegas.jpg[/img] Ironically, Michael who normally shuns cameras, was undetected just 100 feet away from the 200-strong media mob reporting on Paula Abdul’s ‘Woman of the Year’ award and star-studded attendees. A bit later when I told Simon Cowell, who was also in Vegas for Paula’s award, that his partner was just around the corner, he laughed and said, “Doing another one of his world-shaking mega-deals, I suppose.” As manager to international soccer-star David Beckham, Fuller, the extraordinary deal-maker, won him a five year $250-million contract — the largest sports pay-package in history to move with his ‘Posh Spice’ wife, Victoria Beckham, to Beverly Hills and play for the L.A. Galaxy Major League Soccer team. Incidentally that was Beckham, with Martha Stewart and LL Cool J, in one of the high-priced $2.5 million Superbowl ads on Sunday — another coup for Simon Fuller launching Beckham’s bid for American stardom. Michael, who was looking well, relaxed and very happy told me, “I’m doing fine and am well and really enjoying myself in Vegas. It’s a great place to call home.” His hand shake and voice were strong and firm. On Michael’s pending Vegas show and return to pop royalty, Kenny added, “We’re talking business and looking at lots of different possibilities. This is a blue-sky time with a lot of different scenarios up in the air. We’re working through all of them to find the best the one that makes the most sense that’s good for everybody.” I was reliably told that if anybody could transform Michael into a box-office megastar all over again, it would be entertainment mogul Simon Fuller, “This is the perfect match: the world’s biggest pop-star being looked after by the most successful mogul-manager in the world.” Fuller is often confused with Simon Cowell — particularly as they are close friends and so intertwined with ‘American Idol’s’ non-stop soaring success including #1 ratings in 21 different countries. Fuller though, is the brains behind its $1-billion haul from advertising, merchandise and music. He is said to have earned $60-million personally in 2003 alone and that’s a figure that grows annually. In addition, he promotes and manages such ‘American Idol’ stars as Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Stoddard and Clay Aiken in addition to being the longtime manager of Annie Lennox and the now solo careers of Emma ‘Baby Spice’ Bunton and Mrs. Beckham. [img]http://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.vegaspopular.com/media/2007/02/mj-kenny-robin.jpg[/img] There’s an incredibly unique tie-in with another Vegas connection for Michael. Fuller (seen here with Kenny and Michael) divides his time between London, Los Angeles, and the French Riviera, and is also said to have numerous growing investments in Lake Las Vegas real-estate ventures with Cowell. But it’s the mega-deal he struck with American billionaire, Robert F X Sillerman, that’s worth noting in all of this. Fuller’s 19 Entertainment was purchased a year ago by Sillerman for a whopping $190-million and Fuller wound-up a director of Sillerman’s CKx and still running the 19 group. CKx is partnered with Cirque du Soleil in an upcoming Elvis Presley-themed show, planned for MGM’s City Center. Sillerman who owns licensing and merchandising rights to numerous celebrities and their estates exploits the Presley estate with authority by both Priscilla Presley and Lisa-Marie Presley who were in Vegas this weekend celebrating the King of Rock’s daughter’s 39th birthday! Gossip historians know that at one time, Michael and Lisa- Marie were a tabloid headline romance item during their marriage! As an added Vegas twist, Sillerman bought a 20% stake in the Broadway version of Mel Brook’s ‘The Producers’ which is opening a Vegas version of the musical with David Hasselhoff. It’s easy to see that all of Michael’s current financial asset entanglements could be unraveled and made whole by the Sillerman-Fuller brain-trust as super Svengalis and then relaunch his career bigger and better than ever before. First stop though for Michael, who will celebrate his 49th birthday on August 29 this year — the same birth date as mine coincidentally — is Japan. He’ll fly from Vegas next month for two fan-appreciation events on March 8 and 9. Says Michael, “Japan is one of my favorite places in the world and I am very grateful to my fans there who have always been my strongest supporters and have helped me achieve several historic milestones in my life.” Some 300 VIPs, paying over $3300 each, will hold a meet and greet handshake photo-session with Michael on day one with general fans massing for a get-together on day two. Michael, who last performed a concert in Madison Square Garden back in 2001, is not expected to perform while in Japan, although he has created charity fund-raising records and TV specials with large groups of other pop stars in the interim. Although he’s had more than 12 #1 chart hits, the last was in 1995 and he hasn’t toured since the mid- 1990s. He remembered that the last time he and I had met was over breakfast as guests of Donald Trump at his Atlantic City Trump Plaza hotel. But this visit together was not the time or the place to discuss his self-imposed 18-month exile after the Santa Barbara acquittal of child molestation charges in 2005. Michael lived for a while in the oil-rich nation of Bahrain before moving onto Ireland as a longtime guest in the sprawling castle of ‘Lord of the Dance’ creator Michael Flatley. Michael returned to the States six weeks ago on Christmas Eve, as Luxe Life reported here back on December 24. He moved into a home on the west side of Vegas near Sahara and within easy reach of the Strip. In addition to a long dinner with Steve Wynn, which resulted in speculation about a possible Jackson show there, Michael’s also met several times with Vegas deal-maker Jack Wishna who said:, “Michael is poised to return to the top of the entertainment world soon. He is one of the greatest all-time entertainers in the world.” Wishna is the businessman who engineered Trump’s Vegas debut with the $2.8 billion Trump International Hotel Tower, which is nearing completion on the Strip near the New Frontier hotel across from Steve Wynn’s resort hotel casino. [b]MAGIC MAN[/b] Michael was happy to discuss how he’s been spending some of first month in Vegas. He told me he enjoyed taking his children to see Lance Burton’s magic show at the Monte Carlo. “I really love magic,” he said. “I really liked his show. It’s amazing and very enjoyable. I love getting caught up in the magic.” Protected by his own security and Monte Carlo security, Michael went in through a back security entrance rather than cause a scene with fans and sat in the lower mezzanine un-noticed in front of the sound booth and just as the show was ending, he took off so the audience wouldn’t be distracted from Lance’s curtain calls. Michael has only given one quick telephone interview since returning to Vegas although he did speak at the Atlanta funeral of the late soul singer James Brown. He confirmed officially to me a funny interview story about the Associated Press reporter covering the ‘King of Pop’s’ return to the United States to live. The rules were that the reporter could not disclose his Vegas residency and was allowed only one question. When the AP reporter asked how Michael was and he answered that he was fine, that was considered the one question!! So for me, it was an honor to be invited into the inner sanctum. I found Michael relaxed and confident — happy that the troubled past was getting put all behind him and happy that he’s begun rebuilding his career again. “It’s a whole new Michael here in Vegas,” I was told. ” He feels comfortable here. He loves being able to go out and basically not get hassled. He likes the restaurants here for the food but his favorites are the shows. I think he’ll get to see everyone of them over the next few months. It’s the first time in a long time Michael is feeling less pressured and much at ease. He is ready to go to work again and is in a great space and a wonderful sense of mind.” To celebrate, this weekend Michael was out and about again- enjoying The Beatles LOVE musical at the Mirage. After the late-show, he visited the LOVE boutique to pick out some Beatles show souvenirs and surprisingly even happily posed with fans for photos with his ever-watchful security agreeing to relax the normal rules for his safety. Then he went backstage to meet the cast and crew of the show congratulating them on their performances and thanking them for the spectacular show. “They were in awe of him and he the same about all of them. He was very respectful and told them it was an incredible experience that he’d remember forever. I think he’s going to bring his children into see it next,” one of the company staffers told me. For now though, the only public outing has been of his three children have been spotted on was a visit to the Circus Circus hotel attractions here on the Strip. Prince Michael I, Paris and Prince Michael II also known by nickname Blanket, didn’t even bother with disguises when they went on the amusement rides there — naturally under the watchful eye of their nanny and Michael’s team of bodyguards along with the Circus Circus security staffers. [b]KEEP THE BOOGIE ALRIGHT[/b] Michael’s friendship and professional relationship with director and choreographer Kenny Ortega dates back many years. and once again they are teaming up. “Be it a concert tour or a show staged from Vegas they’ll tackle it together,” said a friend. “They have complete trust in one another so it will be their project going forward.” The Emmy-winning 30-year career choreographer was responsible for the hit ‘Dirty Dancing,’ ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ and ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ movies. He also staged over his 20-year tour career world concerts for Michael, Barbra Streisand, Cher, The Pointer Sisters, KISS and Diana Ross. His choreography on Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’ movie also won him awards. Currently Kenny, who created the live Sirens outdoor show spectacle at the Treasure Island, is in the early stages of a secret project being created for Steve Wynn’s resort here and Luxe Life is sworn to secrecy! He will helm the follow-up sequel to ‘High School Musical’ being filmed in Utah this Spring. [b]MICHAEL’S COMEBACK SPECIAL[/b] With the triple-threat team in place for Michael’s return, he’s already started work on a new album. Some of the tracks have already been recorded at Flatley’s Irish castle with the help of will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas. Don’t be surprised if Michael and will are spotted when BEP plays the Orleans Arena during NBA All-Star weekend to work out the best way to finish the tracks they’ve selected to go with. Says will, “I’m a real fan of his. You get to work with just a couple of great people during your life who shed light on the Earth and Michael is one of them.” [img]http://www.blogsmithmedia.com/www.vegaspopular.com/media/2007/02/mj-kenny-simon.jpg[/img] Michael, Simon and Kenny happily posed for our Luxe Life photos. I told them all that everybody was eagerly awaiting Michael’s return to the limelight and that Vegas was delighted he now called our city his new home. ” Its all going to be good, very good” said Michael, and Kenny added: “We’re going to get it done and when it is you’ll know it’ll be the right way working out for the best for everybody involved.”
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