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Entertainment behind the scenes

AEG Live tap dances through Michael Jackson woes

June 30, 2009

After Michael Jackson died on Thursday, concert promoter AEG Live found itself on shaky ground, with 50 shows in London scrapped and ticket buyers clamoring for refunds. The company in recent days has been forced to consider how much it could lose on the cancelemichael-jackson1d shows, amid reports that it spent up to $30 million in production costs and as questions emerged about Dr. Conrad Murray. He is the physician AEG Live hired to care for Jackson and the one who was there when the singer died. He performed CPR on a bed, instead of the preferred method of placing him on a hard surface, like a floor.

Would AEG be the target of lawsuits? Will its insurors decline to pay out if they make a claim? Time will tell, but one outside observer is giving AEG, which is owned by companies controlled by Colorado-based billionaire Philip Anschutz, credit for the way it has controlled the damage that could’ve been caused — or may still be caused — by Jackson’s death.

“AEG is at the center of this right now and it seems the people at AEG are very, very switched on,” said Jerry Kroll, an attorney who specializes in insurance cases. “They seem to be dealing with it as if they had a crisis management team come in.”

Randy Phillips,  chief executive of AEG Live, has said that Jackson looked fit and ready to perform the night before he died, and that the company planned a tribute show that could involve the singer’s famous family. Phillips also said he tried in vain to convince Jackson not to hire Murray. 

This comes after the company released photos of Jackson’s last rehearsal in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, the night before he died. The photos show Jackson looking in good shape, unlike the skeletal man in frail health that media reports often describe. The images undercut speculation that Jackson was in no shape to handle 50 concerts.

AEG Live even offered concert goers the chance to hold onto their ticket instead of receiving a refund, on the grounds that the piece of paper will be worth money as a collectible.

“Whoever dreamed up the idea that if you want to keep the ticket, we don’t refund it but you get the ticket as a souvenir was a genius,” Kroll said.

AEG Live had insurance to cover itself in the event Jackson did not take the stage in London. The insurance on a concert would normally cover the concert promoter’s production costs, but in this case payment will likely hinge on the results of the two autopsies done on Jackson, because the insurance companies might not pay if Jackson died of a drug overdose, Kroll said. Jackson had a history of prescription drug abuse, and police investigators have searched for medicines at his home to determine what role those might have had in his death.

jackson7Representatives from AEG Live did not return calls for this blog post.

The company also reportedly has enough material from video footage of Jackson rehearsing to release a DVD and an album. Kroll, who was not involved in plans for the London shows but had a legal role in the unravelling of the singer’s 1990s “Dangerous” tour, said that AEG could realize hefty revenues on sales of material from the rehearsal.

“You put that out, that alone would be an amazing event,” he said. “It’s like saying, ‘OK we have Elvis’ last rehearsal.’”

Comments

While I think that a measurable percentage of fans will opt for the ticket, many others will not apprecaite AEG’s attempts to line their own pockets when fans are down. Some sites are calling for refunds to be donated to charities Michael Jackson supported (such as The Man in the Mirror Project http://www.maninthemirrorproject.org) which I think is a great way to show your appreciation of Michael’s life while helping those in need (rather than another big corporation).

Posted by MJFan | Report as abusive
 

I think this is a brilliant idea – to keep tickets as a memento instead of a refund, provided they have been bought from ‘authorized agents’. I might opt for this option – good move Mr Randy ! I forsee at least 40% fans opting for tickets as memento. Good luck AEG !

Posted by Prithvi | Report as abusive
 

These tickets will become valuable collectors items, you only have to take a look at what prices old Elvis tickets are sold for nowadays.

 

I think most fans probably keep their tickets as the last memorabilia of a great performer.

 

At 800,000 tickets, even if only 40% of people chose the tickets as a souvenir over the refund then that would be 320,000 souvenir tickets out there. Hardly a low limited edition in terms of a collector’s item. Sure, a lot of people who never got to opportunity to buy this ticket in the first place may want to buy the souvenir ticket on the secondary market, but would people be willing to pay over the 75 GBP face value for these tickets? Maybe a small select few, but the majority I don’t think so, leaving this a very expensive ticket and poor investment if that’s what AEG are trying to imply it would be. It would just be a very nice but expensive memento of what would have been a fantastic concert.

I was lucky enough to get 2 tickets to see MJ on August 30th and while I would love a souvenir ticket, I think the 75 GBP price tag is just too high. I will be seeking a refund but will most definitely be purchasing any DVD AEG release of the rehearsals. It would be great if they were able to put all the rehearsal footage together to form the concert from start to finish so we get a good idea of what it would have been like, with any extra footage put on there.

And as for Neverland being turned into a Graceland type shrine. I’m in!

Posted by DM_MJFan | Report as abusive
 

There should be outdoor viewing of this event in cities, i’m from the London area and would love to see the Memorial on a big screen sharing the moment with other Fans, I don’t fancy watching it at home on my own!!

Posted by jody barrett | Report as abusive
 

Micheal Jackson, its just still seems so surreal, I remember when the concerts where being picked aprt by some disc jokeys in the Sacramento & Bay Area radio stations. The subject of course was picking Micheal apart & the resons behind his tour. I use to call the stations I listened to my favorites,,,,,unill I heard the same d.j.’s now paying tribute to him and saying how much he was loved & so talented…..I just
felt so hurt to hear how now the same people who made fun of him, now are singing his praises…..It finally hit me all the pain he had to endure while trying to master his craft and under the media s bad press, even though his music touched many and helped many charities.
He was a Icon, a gifted dancer & singer with the ability to cut through
color lines when his ground braking videos were played on MTV when it had no black artists on its programs. I hope people will remember some
of his beautiful music. I hear all these news programs ^& the music they pick are the beginning of Off the Wall, where he is just clowning
and not really singing. I have to wonder who picked this which doesnt
showcase his singing, I have a beautiful song he recorded about his love… the music and I Thats what he loved & maybe some of the people who only remember Off the Wall, would remember him as a geniune talent a
boy who loved the music & as he grew to be a man his love of music still touching many, and the people loved to listen to him sing. I grew up with him and still have his 45′s ABC Got To Be There, just some memories I have always chrished and
even more so now My heart goes out to his 3 children, Micheal they are so beautiful, sweet souls, My heart to your brothers, sisters, To your Mother & Father May the Lord bless their home with the laughter of his children soon. I know thats what he would want God Bless You All
Goodbye Micheal Yes, Gone to Soon!!!
Heide L

 

I have just finished watching the memorial service on the TV here in London and I so much appreciate all the efforts put in.
The occassion was well attended and beautiful but emotional. Please it will be appreciated if AEG can put together all the rehearsals on DVD I am all for it.
Well done AEG.

Posted by Abel | Report as abusive
 

It would be good if the ‘keeper’ hologram tickets also gave entry to the forthcoming tribute version of the show planned maybe for the O2. That would be better value considering there are so many tickets they might not reach face value as collectors items.

And by the way I still can’t believe that the Michael shown in rehearsals and the one at the O2 launch are the same person. Not only the voice but the mannerisms and body language are different. That funny little shrug he gives at the end – apparently even Bubbles had a ‘stand-in’ chimp double back in the day-maybe this is his..

But he was fabulous in all his versions…. RIP Michael.

 

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