Pop Culture

Jackson faces uphill moonwalk for Vegas shows

There is only one place on earth where the goblins from the “Thriller” video, the exotic animals from Neverland Ranch, the lawyers, the celebrity siblings, the media, the fans, the plastic surgeons and the white glove can come together in moonwalking bliss to celebrate Michael Jackson: Las Vegas.

Rumors persist that Jackson might not only crawl out of Incognito Land, but could hit The Strip with a splash. While there’s been no verification, the buzz has it that Jackson might agree to perform an extended engagement similar to those of Celine Dion, Elton John, Cher and Bette Midler.

Last year, the New York Daily News reported that Jackson was planning to erect a 50-foot robotic likeness of himself in full view of incoming planes to coincide with a lengthy series of concerts.

Imagine the stir. Michael Jackson, the King of Pop (“Jacko,” as he is affectionately known in British tabloids), who has been worshipped across the globe for his incomparable success as a recording artist and performer but has been hammered by critics for his alleged indiscretions with young boys, could join the ranks of Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group, Penn & Teller and other semi-permanent acts.

“I’ve heard the rumors for over a year and a half about it,” said Michael Isaac, who for the past eight years has run a business called preferredticket.com, which sells ducats to all Las Vegas attractions and shows.

Does he think it will happen?

“Probably not,” he said. “He’s a guy who has such a negative connotation with his name right now. There are a lot of anti-Michael Jackson people out there. There aren’t a lot of anti-Celine Dion or anti-Elton people.”

Possible venuesIf such a show does take place, it would likely be at Caesars Palace, if rumors are to be believed. The legendary casino built the 4,300-seat Colosseum — which opened in March 2003 — specifically to house Dion’s shows. It is the largest such room with regular headliners in town, perfect for a big act. By comparison, the Las Vegas Hilton’s Hilton Theater, which is playing host to an extended Barry Manilow run, seats 1,700.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Neil P. Mockford / GC Images

    Image: Celebrity Sightings On The Set Of 'A Hundred Streets' - August 8, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. on the "Let's Be Cops," red carpet, Selena Gomez is immortalized in wax and more.

  • Image: Celebrity Sightings On The Set Of 'A Hundred Streets' - August 8, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Idris Elba

    Actor Idris Elba seen on the set of :A Hundred Streets" on Aug. 8 in London.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of RADiUS-TWC's "The One I Love" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass

    Actors Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass arrive at the premiere of RADIUS-TWC's "The One I Love" at the Vista Theatre on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of RADiUS-TWC's "The One I Love" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nick Kroll

    Actor Nick Kroll arrives at the premiere of RADIUS-TWC's "The One I Love" at the Vista Theatre on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Damon Wayans Jr., Jake Johnson

    Actors Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson arrive at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Cast member D'Arcy poses at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" in Hollywood

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    James D'Arcy

    James D'Arcy arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: BESTPIX: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Arrivals

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Julianne Hough

    Actress Julianne Hough arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Arrivals

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Hannah Simone

    Actress Hannah Simone arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Premiere Of Twentieth Century Fox's "Let's Be Cops" - Red Carpet

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nina Dobrev

    Actress Nina Dobrev arrives at the premiere of "Let's Be Cops" at the Cinerama Dome on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nicole Murphy, Brandy Norwood

    TV personality Nicole Murphy and singer Brandy Norwood attend The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception at W Hollywood on Aug. 7 in Hollywood.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Tara Reid

    Actress Tara Reid attends The Pump Group VIP Cocktail Reception at W Hollywood on Aug. 7 in Hollywood.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: "Phoenix" Opening Night

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    James Wirt, Julia Stiles

    Actors James Wirt and Julia Stiles stand on stage during the opening night curtain call for "Phoenix" at the Cherry Lane Theatre on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: "Phoenix" Opening Night

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    AnnaSophia Robb

    Actress AnnaSophia Robb attends the opening night performance of "Phoenix" at the Cherry Lane Theatre on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Madame Tussauds New York To Unveil New, Never-Before-Seen Selena Gomez Wax Figure

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Selena Gomez

    A boy gives the wax figure of Selena Gomez a kiss at the unveiling of the new new, never-before-seen Selena Gomez wax figure at Madame Tussauds New York on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Chris Martin Visits "The Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show"

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Chris Martin

    Chris Martin of Coldplay performs during the Elvis Duran Z100 Morning Show at Z100 Studio on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX: Apple Store Soho Presents: Meet the Actors: Michael Fassbender And Domhnall Gleeson - "Frank"

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Michael Fassbender

    Actor Michael Fassbender attends "Meet the Actor" at Apple Store Soho on Aug. 7 in New York.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Mickey Rourke

    Actor Mickey Rourke is seen at "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Jordana Brewster

    Actress Jordana Brewster waves outisde of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: G. Garvin Live

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Keshia Knight Pulliam

    Actress Keshia Knight Pulliam attends G. Garvin Live at Buckhead Theatre on Aug. 7 in Atlanta.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Reese Witherspoon

    Actress Reese Witherspoon is seen on Aug. 7 in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Miley Cyrus

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Miley Cyrus

    Singer Miley Cyrus performs in concert at Bridgestone Arena on Aug. 7 in Nashville.

    AP / AP
  • Image: 67th Locarno Film Festival - Day 2

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Melanie Griffith

    Actress Melanie Griffith attends a press conference during the 67th Locarno Film Festival on Aug. 7 in Locarno, Switzerland.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Lily Allen

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Lily Allen

    Singer Lily Allen performs in concert at Bridgestone Arena on Aug. 7 in Nashville.

    AP / AP
  • Image: "The Expendables 3" Paris Photocall At Cinema UGC Normandie

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    'Expendables 3'

    The stars of "Expendables 3," from left, Kellan Lutz, Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes attend "Expendables 3" at Cinema UGC Normandie on Aug. 7 in Paris.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Meet The FilmMakers: "The Rover"

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Robert Pattinson

    Actor Robert Pattinson speaks during the Meet The Filmmakers event for "The Rover" at Apple Store, Regent Street on Aug. 7 in London.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Celebrity Sightings In New York City - August 07, 2014

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Nicole Kidman, Jason Bateman

    Actors Nicole Kidman and Jason Bateman are spotted filming Bateman's "The Family Fang" in Westchester, New York, on Aug. 7.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Africa: New Partnership Models For Growth

    Celebrity Sightings

    of

    Akon

    Grammy-nominated artist Akon, who is the founder of Akon Lighting Africa Project, discusses at the US-Africa Leaders Summit "Africa: New Parnership Models for Growth" news conference, held in Washington, DC, on Aug. 7, the progress that African heads of state have made.

    Getty Images / Getty Images

But don’t count out the smaller theater. A star of Jackson’s caliber may prefer a larger stage, but investment company Colony Capital, which owns the Las Vegas Hilton, bought out the star’s loan on his Neverland Ranch when it nearly went into foreclosure in May. And that could mean Colony’s owed a lengthy favor in the form of a show.

Many entertainers — from Elvis to Sinatra and others — have played extended runs over the years. But those engagements usually lasted about two weeks or so. (Dion did 717 shows over five years, with tickets going from $100 to $250 a pop.)

“Of course, we try to find artists who have sold many, many records and who have millions of fans who are capable of traveling to Las Vegas and filling a showroom of this size,” explained Gary Selesner, president of Caesars Palace. “We’re also very careful to work with people who are great partners and who understand that the task of filling a room night after night requires a lot of effort and dedication to the market.”

While Selesner would not comment specifically on the Jackson rumors — “You see them from time to time in the gossip columns in Las Vegas,” he said — the choice of an act for such a lengthy stay at the casino would come about only after a great deal of discussion and consideration.

Such an artist, he said, must have “wide-ranging appeal. If not, it’s doomed to failure.”

Daunting obstaclesThough Jackson has certainly been successful in the past (he fronted the Jackson Five and sold more than 750 million records worldwide) and has a large catalog of hits to draw from for a show, his more recent troubles could hurt the chances of a successful engagement.

Take into consideration two highly charged and publicized sexual molestation cases involving young boys in 1993 and 2005 (he settled out of court for the former and was acquitted in the latter). On top of that, he’s been subject to negative publicity ranging from broken marriages to plastic surgery mishaps to dangling his baby from a balcony.

Also to consider is that with existing acts such as Elton John, Cher and Bette Midler, audiences tend to skew older and are comprised generally of people with the disposable income to spend at the gambling tables and the restaurants and bars inside the casinos. In Jackson’s case, judging by the hordes outside his 2005 trial, he draws a younger crowd that might not be inclined to shell out for the extras.

His Q rating (a method used to measure an individual’s public appeal) has taken a fall in recent years, too. Henry Schafer, vice president of New York-based The Q Scores Co., reports that in 2006 (the last period of measurement for Jackson), the performer’s Positive Q score among adults declined by 50 percent to a 7 over the 20-year period prior to ’06. During that same time, his Negative Q score grew by 40 percent to a 69. (A good positive Q score is in the mid to high 20s, whereas a good Negative Q score is in the high teens.)

“For most personalities, there is a gradual movement up or down over time as their career evolves — unless there is a ‘traumatic’ professional or social occurrence in their lives that affects public opinion,” said Schafer. “In these instances, particularly the bad ones, public reaction is heavily influenced by the way in which the celebrity handles the situation.”

And since Jackson has recognition across all age groups for his Q rating – positive and negative — it’s not clear that there’s any one age group that would support him or his possible show in Vegas.

With all this, it’s difficult to gauge the possibility of a fruitful extended run. Of course, in a variation of that old “Field of Dreams” line, if you book him, maybe they will come anyway.

“It’s a very positive thing for (the stars’) careers,” said preferredticket.com’s Isaac. “I think Celine’s shows here enhanced her popularity even more.”

He also added that he has heard rumors about acts such as Britney Spears, Madonna and U2 doing extended engagements. “Vegas is unlike any other city. People come to Vegas for entertainment.”

TOP