Published June 30, 2009
The head of the promotion company behind Michael Jackson's 50-night "This is It" concert extravaganza says he'd like the concerts to go on.
In an exclusive interview with SKY News, Randy Philips said he would like the Jackson family to be on stage and take part in the show, with celebrity friends of the late icon rotating as stand ins for Jackson.
On Monday, the concert promoters announced that 750,000 Michael Jackson fans could get full refunds for the pop star's canceled 50-night "This is It" concert extravaganza — or opt to receive souvenir tickets instead.
If the show is indeed canceled, the move could help recoup some of AEG's losses from the ill-fated tour. Fans could choose to receive the actual tickets, which it said feature graphics "inspired and designed" by Jackson himself.
Fans spent more than $90 million on tickets, which were priced between $82 and $124, though some went for hundreds of dollars on Internet auction sites.
Jackson's death has left AEG Live, which operates the 02 Arena where the pop star was to have performed, with a colossal problem.
In addition to the money taken in by ticket sales, which must be refunded if canceled, the company had already paid Jackson millions and spent millions more getting ready for the planned July 13 premiere — not to mention that one of the city's biggest arenas has been left with 50 open nights.
The skirmishing over refunds and open bookings is just one aspect of what is likely to be years of legal wrangling over financial matters, including Jackson's considerable debts, assets and custody of his three children. The battles are likely to dwarf earlier fights for the control of assets left by other departed rock gods, including guitar hero Jimi Hendrix and reggae trailblazer Bob Marley.
Promoters are generally required to take out insurance to cover concert cancellations or non-appearances, said Malcolm Tarling, a spokesman for the Association of British Insurers.
Many of the policies are extremely specific, allocating levels of payouts according to the reason for the cancellation — including the cause of any death. If a drug overdose was specified as a risk with lower coverage, AEG may be entitled to less money.
Still, Phillips told SKY that financially, his company was fine and he was awaiting news about the funeral of Michael Jackson.
Phillips says he believes Jackson's comeback would have been one of the best arena shows ever produced. He says a video of Jackson's rehearsals for the tour does exist.
He says Jackson said he believed he was ready for the 50 sold-out performances at London's O2 arena.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.