Michael Talks About His New Life in Vegas
Robin Leach – Exclusive Interview excerpts
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.
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 Ireland.
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."
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…Michael lived for a while in the oil-rich nation of Bahrain before moving onto Ireland…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.
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."
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 of his three children has been a visit to the Circus Circus where they were spotted on a visit to the hotel’s 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.
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.
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 [in Ireland] 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."
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."