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September 2, 2014

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The Jacksons at Planet Hollywood is as easy as 1-2-3

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Charles Sykes / Invision / AP

Tito, Jackie, Marlon and Jermaine Jackson perform during The Jacksons: Unity Tour 2012, part of the Seaside Summer Concert Series, on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, in Brooklyn, New York.

The Jacksons

Tito, Jackie, Marlon and Jermaine Jackson perform during The Jacksons: Unity Tour 2012, part of the Seaside Summer Concert Series, on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, in Brooklyn, New York. Launch slideshow »

The lineup for this conversation is The Jackson 3: Jackie, Marlon and Tito. They are dragging furniture around a suite at Planet Hollywood so that they can sit and talk about their just-announced appearance in “Rocktellz & Cocktails.”

Somehow, the number of Jackson brothers is one greater than the number of available chairs. So it’s Marlon in the middle, seated on the arms of side-by-side chairs and flanked by brothers Jackie and Tito.

“We will make this work,” Marlon says. “This feels good.”

Give The Jacksons any sort of stage plot, and they’ll figure out how to make it work. The surviving members of The Jackson 5 are in promotional mode to generate buzz about their 40 appearances beginning Feb. 20 at PH Showroom.

Absent from this session is Jermaine Jackson, suffering from the flu, but he is set to appear in all performances running through April 27. “Rocktellz” is braced for a busy spring, with The Jacksons’ shows toggling with Meat Loaf, whose run is Feb. 13-April 8 (Meat’s shows are at 7 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; The Jacksons are at 9:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays).

The three participating Jacksons were in lofty spirits during their first interview about the show, which is produced by Adam Steck’s SPI Entertainment as part of the “Rocktellz” lineup. Some highlights:

Click to enlarge photo

The Jacksons: Tito, Jackie, Marlon and Jermaine.

• The Jackson family has deep roots on the Strip, as The Jackson 5 performed at the original MGM Grand in the 1970s. “We played two weeks at a time, two shows a night, no off days,” Jackie Jackson, a Las Vegas resident, said. “Then, in the morning, we had to go to school with our tutor.”

• Some of the video footage used in the show has never been seen. “We have a lot of video, of us working with Bob Hope or Sammy, maybe,” Jackie said. Tito added, “We’ll take you to a totally different time in our lives.”

• The musicians in the show are from the touring “Michael Jackson Immortal” production. “The music is pretty much going to be The Jacksons’ old stuff, and we’ll talk about some things people haven’t heard before,” Jackie said.

• What to talk about or perform is a “feel” thing. “It’s easy. It’s about feeling it. It’s not about agreeing, as a group,” Marlon said. “If it feels right, feels good, we’ll do it. We’ve been doing this long enough that we know what will work and what won’t. Can you feel it? That’s the question.” When told, “Yes, I feel it,” he said, “Good! You are part of the show!”

• The plan is to focus the show’s storytelling on The Jackson 5 era, and the brothers have control over what is said onstage. “Whose show is this? It’s ours,” Marlon said. “We can say whatever we want to say, and we’re talking about The Jackson 5, the early days. All this other garbage that y’all want to hear — you won’t get any. Them ducks ain’t gonna quack. Those dogs ain’t gonna hunt.”

• Quality live performance remains a Jackson family hallmark. “I pretty much live in Vegas, and I’ve seen most of the shows around town, and I’m glad to see performing come back to Las Vegas,” Jackie said. “I’m happy about that. Back when we performed here, at first, that’s what it was. It was Frank Sinatra, Sammy, Elvis, The Rat Pack, all those shows with real performing. I’m glad to see that’s back because that is what we do.”

• The novelty of being a member of one of the world’s most famous family ebbed a long time ago. “I’ve been a Jackson all my life. When I wake up, all this other stuff that happens is just gravy,” Jackie said. “I woke up. That’s the key.” Tito, the least verbose of the three in this conversation, added, “We’re just regular guys from Gary, Indiana, in every sense. This is just what we enjoy: entertaining.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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