Jackson's doomed concert may live on as tribute, DVD, album (Feature)
By Andy Goldberg Jun 30, 2009, 2:53 GMT
In this handout photo provided by AEG and made available on 29 June 2009, pop star Michael Jackson rehearses for his planned shows in London at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, 23 June 2009. Jackson died two days later at the age of 50 in a hospital after going into cardiac arrest in his Los Angeles home on 25 June 2009. EPA/Kevin Mazur / AEG (Photo by Kevin Mazur/AEG)
Los Angeles - As rumour and speculation continue to swirl about the details of Michael Jackson's death, reports have also surfaced that the shows he was scheduled to perform in London were on track to be among the most spectacular in the history of pop music.
Jackson, 50, had been working hard on the This Is It tour, which had generated 85 million dollars in ticket sales from 50 sold-out dates in London. Ironically, the night before he died he had performed a full dress rehearsal at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles.
Pictures released Monday from that rehearsal showed a smiling Jackson wearing shimmering purple, beaming at the success of his vision. Another showed him in a white fedora hat, standing in one of his signature poses.
The photos seemed to corroborate earlier reports in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere that despite widespread fears that Jackson was physically incapable of creating and performing the massive comeback tour, he was about to disappoint his detractors. And the dress rehearsal was proving it.
'There were a couple of times when Michael stood at my side and we looked at the stage together and were just beaming with gladness that we had arrived at this place,' the show's director, Kenny Ortega, told the Los Angeles Times.
The idea was to do for rock concerts what the Thriller video had done for pop videos - set a new standard that would establish Jackson as the master of the medium.
Together with illusionist Ed Alonzo, the 'Misfit of Magic' who created illusions for Britney Spears' Circus tour, Jackson and Ortega had engaged many of the best technicians in the industry to create an audio-visual extravaganza that would resuscitate his career and rehabilitate his reputation as one of the greatest showmen of the modern era.
There was to be a shimmering, diaphanous globe that would float around the arena and appear to come to rest in Jackson's hand during the opening number, Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' from 1982.
In another stunt designed to accompany the song Dirty Diana, Jackson was to be lashed by a sexy dancer onto a huge flaming bed before turning the tables on her and appearing as though by magic on centre stage.
One stunt involved the 3-D recreation of the mansion from Jackson's Thriller video that the audience would need special glasses to see.
The concerts were also to feature huge mutant spiders, 20-foot puppets, pyrotechnics and most importantly the return of the crooning, spinning, moonwalking King of Pop.
'It feels good to know that Michael was on track for his comeback, but it's so sad they we will never get to see it,' said Lindsay Gilardoni, a Jackson fan who had planned to travel from Los Angeles to London to see the show.
She may yet get to see some of the Jackson magic.
According to US media reports, concert promoter AEG Live had filmed the dress rehearsal and digitally recorded the sound. The recordings were made as part of the concert promotion company's deal with Jackson, which included a plan to produce both an album and DVD of what Jackson had billed as his 'final performance' tour.
A DVD and album of Jackson's last performance would undoubtedly be a bestseller and could help the company recoup some of the massive losses it is expected to incur through cancellation of the tour.
Fans may even get to see some of the stunts live on stage. Ortega is said to be considering an all-star tribute tour for Jackson that would incorporate some of the effects from Jackson's last tour, using other stars in Jackson's place.
'I will go see that for sure,' said fan Gilardino.