AEG moves on after Jackson

Company faces aftermath of singer's death

Things seem to be getting back to normal in the offices of AEG, the owner of both venues and the promoter behind the 50 sold-out concerts at London’s 02 Arena that Michael Jackson was prepping for before his death June 25.

While AEG’s VP of communications Michael Roth is fielding phone calls and emails related to Jackson, the dust had largely settled. At least until an autopsy report will determine how much money AEG will be able to recoup from its $20 million-plus investment in the tour, which would have began on Monday.

According to the original contract, the initial agreement called for the singer to do 31 shows. But once presales indicated an overwhelming response beyond the 31 perfs, Jackson “said yes to more shows but no more than 50,” stated Roth.

Jackson stipulated two conditions for the additional run: that AEG would rent him a country estate near London so that his children would have a retreat during the shows’ July-February duration, and that some arrangement would be made to have the Guinness Book of World Records to acknowledge the tour’s record-breaking run.

The contract between Jackson and AEG called for 10 shows in each of the months of July, August and September, with three months off before resuming in January and February. That would have been an average of 2 1/4 shows a week, said Smith.

Roth also addressed rumors that the 02’s four initial shows were postponed due to Jackson’s flagging health. He said the delays had to do with tour director Kenny Ortega’s request for more rehearsal time. Also, Roth pointed out, AEG needed more tickets to meet the swelling demand from media and VIPs for the kick-off show, hence the delayed start date. Even beyond the 50 sold-out dates, Roth said there was still a waiting list of 200,000 people hoping to nab a seat.

Roth said that everybody from Ortega to choreographer Travis Payne attested to Jackson’s fitness for the shows, and that 130 hours of rehearsal time — on a Burbank sound stage as well as the Inglewood Forum and the Staples Center — had been filmed. Much of it is full-on performance by Jackson and his band, not just walkthroughs. He didn’t indicate how the footage would be used, nor could he speculate on a rumored Michael Jackson memorial show for the 02 venue.

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