Austria preps star-studded Sept. tribute

BERLIN — With the international tribute to Michael Jackson now set for Vienna instead of London, the event’s promoter is busy organizing the three-hour, star-studded show in the grounds of Austria’s 17th century Schoenbrunn Palace.

Georg Kindel, chairman of Vienna-based World Awards Media, said Tuesday that negotiations are under way with TV networks for rights to the event, which will take place Sept. 26 in front of an audience of some 85,000 people.

The organizers expect worldwide TV sales will make the show available to 1 billion viewers even though they have yet to announce the lineup.

Jermaine Jackson is assembling the lineup for his late brother’s global tribute. Kindel did not confirm Austrian media reports that Madonna, U2, Lionel Richie and Whitney Houston are set to perform, saying that Jackson family members and as-yet-unnamed Hollywood celebrities would take part.

“It will be about Michael Jackson the man and the humanitarian,” Kindel said, adding that some of the proceeds would go to charities, including the Larry King Cardiac Foundation.

Speaking on CNN’s “Larry King Live” on Friday, Jermaine Jackson said the show was being held in Vienna because his brother loved the city and “loved castles.”

Jackson was in Austria last month for the Save the World Awards, which Kindel also organized, to accept a special award for his brother, who was posthumously honored for his social and humanitarian achievements.

Kindel said the tribute was originally planned for London’s Wembley Stadium on Aug. 29, which would have been Michael Jackson’s 51st birthday, but that Jermaine Jackson decided instead on Vienna.

Michael Jackson had been rehearsing for a series of London concerts at the time of his death in June.

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