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Cirque du Soleil to put on Michael Jackson show

By Alan Duke, CNN
Cirque du Soleil is developing shows based on the music of Michael Jackson.
Cirque du Soleil is developing shows based on the music of Michael Jackson.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Michael Jackson's estate has struck a deal with Cirque du Soleil
  • The circus company will have a touring show and a Las Vegas, Nevada, show
  • The pop star's mother says her "family is thrilled that Cirque du Soleil will pay tribute to my son"
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Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Cirque du Soleil and Michael Jackson's estate have struck a deal to bring the late pop star's music to the big tent starting next year.

The show will go on tour near the end of 2011, and a Las Vegas, Nevada, show will debut the following year, according to Cirque du Soleil President and CEO Daniel Lamarre.

The circus company first talked to Jackson six years ago about the possibility of a Jackson-themed show, Lamarre said Tuesday.

"Having attended Cirque du Soleil performances with Michael, I know he was a huge fan," Jackson estate administrator John Branca said.

The shows will be based on Jackson's music and dance, Lamarre said.

The project is the latest major deal announced by the estate, which recently signed a long-term contract with Sony Music to distribute the music of Jackson, who died in June at age 50.

The partnership -- in which the estate and Cirque du Soleil are equal partners -- has been long rumored.

Members of the Jackson family have been critical of the handling of Jackson's estate since a probate judge gave Branca and John McClain control last summer. In this case, however, the matriarch of the family gave her blessing.

"Our family is thrilled that Cirque du Soleil will pay tribute to my son in such an important way," said Katherine Jackson, the singer's mother.

Cirque du Soleil is legendary for its creative and acrobatic performances, but Lamarre said it will be a challenge to live up to the imagination of Michael Jackson.

The MGM Mirage has signed on to host the Las Vegas residency. The hotel also will open a nightclub based on the Jackson show, the hotel said.