We first pondered the Jackson invasion during a recent performance of Frank Marino's Divas. Amidst a celebration of female diva-ism, a photo montage of Jackson popped up with Marino expressing his love for the performer and how "we missed him." Interesting for us, was how it's now assumed Jackson is a universally beloved character. We discussed this with journalists last year during the limited run of Cirque Due Soleil's Michael Jackson The Immortal at Mandalay Bay, and our curiosity at how no one was mentioning a large elephant in the room.
For a certain section of the general public, despite the accolades, Michael Jackson was twice accused but never convicted of child molestation. In a previous lifetime, this writer worked in television news and spent a great deal of time working on stories connected to these cases. It's the first thing that pops into our minds when we see or hear any mention of Michael Jackson. It's a strange disconnect. One we know will continue to grow over the next nine months.
At Mandalay Bay, preps for the Cirque show escalates. Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL currently tours the country and the world but, as we are promised by the Cirque team, the final permanent production will be very different and much grander in scale. Currently, the theater is a hard hat construction area as they strip all remnants of the previous tenant, The Lion King. Marquee posters and a couple of statues mark the territory until the show arrives in May 2013. For the moment, the Jackson promotional push is subtle. The gold accents of the Lion King campaign, replaced by a sedate, blue tinted color scheme. We foresee a much brasher hard sell nearer opening night.
And, we'd been eying the space formerly occupied by Rumjungle for a while. We'd heard that Cirque's planned nightclub dropping into that space would also be heavy on the MJ theme. A wicked whisper, yet again this week, suggests the club won't be as Jackson-centric as we'd previously been told. And, the art on the newly erected construction plywood hedges at the ultimate final focus and content of the club.
A very popular progressive Micheal Jackson slot machine is now abundant on The Strip. The 3D cut-out displays and the banks of visually arresting dance clips are drawing in players. The consistently high progressive jackpot totals also help. It's meant we frequently hear Smooth Criminal while walking through resorts. (As we noted, both Chippendales and Thunder From Down Under love that song.)
You can find other little MJ blips all over town. At Silverton, Foreverland, a 14-piece Michael Jackson tribute band from San Francisco recently played a pool party. And, Lavo just held their 3rd Annual Moonwalk Competition. The winner received a $3,000 Grand Prize. Over at The Rio, MJ Live a Jackson impersonation tribute show has managed to survive the Crown Theater upheavals. On billboards around town, the advertising copy for this show promotes "kids free." Again, promoting Jackson as a kid-centric performer that just strikes some folks as uneasy.
In the window of Regis Galerie in the Venetian's Grand Canal Shoppes, a sequence from a Martin Bashir documentary Living with Michael Jackson shows Jackson entering their store and buying and browsing with fervent abandon. The clip is subtitled "Our friend Michael, you will be missed." The Jackson unveiled in the rest of this documentary is more unsettling than a man with an eccentric home decorating style. Jackson's quotes on film regarding his relationship with children were the basis for charges in a criminal complaint by the Santa Barbara District Attorney's Office.
Maybe it's just this writer, but we face a curious situation where we are witnessing the growth of a new celebrity icon for this city. And, we are in a minority for wishing it were someone else.