The story of MICHAEL JACKSON, TOHME TOHME and AEG LIVE. Part 1
The AEG Live advocates active in this blog say that this concert promoter is no worse than others, Michael Jackson was no angel and should not be looked upon as a victim, and since we don’t know why Randy Phillips yelled at Michael, we should not pass judgment on AEG – what if there were reasons for it?
This forces me to make a kind of a review about the relations between Michael Jackson and AEG in the months prior to his death.
First of all let me say a short word about the so-called contract between AEG Live and Michael Jackson (‘so-called’ because it was actually a letter of intent). Besides it being a dubious document in terms of its validity, there is also no force on this planet to convince me that it was made in the interests of both parties as is usually done between civilized people. No, it was made in the interests of one party only – AEG Live, and in the very best case was a way to coerce Michael into making those shows and blackmail him if he wanted to back out, and in the worst case was a tool to squeeze millions out of Michael’s gross exploitation and grab his assets if he was unable to perform.
Behind the seemingly respectable façade of those ‘contract’ papers you will see the grossest exploitation, disdain for Michael Jackson and the immoral taking advantage of him as an artist and human being. There is even a special legal term describing this kind of a business relationship and the name to it is an unconscionable contract:
- An unconscionable contract is one that is so one-sided that it is unfair to one party and therefore unenforceable under law. It is a type of contract that leaves one party with no real, meaningful choice, usually due to major differences in bargaining power between the parties.
- In a lawsuit, if the court finds a contract to be unconscionable, they will typically declare the contract to be void. No damages award or specific performance will be issued, but instead the parties will be released from their contract obligations.
Unfortunately only few have read that contract and cannot imagine how immoral it is. Many are also confused by the vagueness around Michael’s state of health, his reasons for the alleged missing of rehearsals and AEG’s propaganda about their huge losses which they never sustained.
With so much talk about how lovely AEG Live is I decided to make a full check-up of my own impression of them and review it from the most neutral position possible. What if I am really unfair to AEG Live? If I am this is no good, and it was from this premise that I started this review. The story below is what came of it.
2. LET’S DO SOME MATHS
One of the first questions I asked myself was whether AEG Live treated other artists in the same way. This was a difficult question as the AEG contracts with others performers are not available to me, so I had to go by scraps of the media information only.
The first impression I got from what I read was that AEG behaved in a different way with different performers and provided different terms depending on who the star is. Judging by the variations they could probably even follow some of the performers’ wishes.
Prince, for example, was promoting his new album 3121 and to reflect the title of the album he and AEG Live set the price of every ticket to his 2007 O2 Arena performances at £31.21 irrespective of the seat. In case the profits were not good enough this was later compensated for by Prince’s setting the price at $312,01 for his Las Vegas performances, as this article informs us:
Prince’s permanent Vegas vacation
It happens to them all, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, even Siegfried and Roy, they all made Vegas home to their twilight career. Prince has now made a big step to follow in their footsteps by apparently looking into taking over the Empire Ballroom club on the south Strip which is really at 3676 Las Vegas Blvd will be renamed Club 3121. Prince will be charging Vegas prices too, his first dates at this show sold at $312.01 per general admission ticket for the “intimate” 1,300 capacity venue for dates across the summer, which will include special guest performers. His current plans incuding holding regular performances at the Rio Hotel/Casino.
With Bon Jovi AEG Live pursued a different policy. The price of tickets was even lower than that of Prince’s but the tickets could be bought only on condition you buy their CD. This was the opposite policy to that of Prince who offered a free CD together with the ticket to promote his new music and artificially influence some “Soundscan charts”.
I’ve learned these details from Randy Phillips’ public correspondence with a person whom I understand to be a professional in this business. Here is a sample of it:
From: Bob Lefsetz
Date: June 26, 2007 6:33 PM PDT
“The Bon Jovi deal is the first “all-in” presale that bundles together a ticket and a digital album as a single transaction sold via Ticketmaster’s Web site. In this way, the promotion is more a digital version of Prince’s 2005 Musicology tour, which included with the ticket price a physical version of his new album, to be picked up at the venue.”
You HAD to buy the digital download if you wanted tickets in the pre-sale…
From: Randy Phillps
Date: June 26, 2007 6:46 PM PDT
In the Prince sales we didn’t give the consumer the opt-in/opt-out choice and did accidentally (all Prince cared about was getting his new music into as many hands as possible) and artificially influence the Soundscan Charts. This was not the case with BJ.
…. Bob, they are playing 10 nights, not 1 or 2, and there are plenty of tickets available to the public in both the primary and secondary markets. Only 45,000 out of over 100,000 sales opted to buy in. Those are REAL sales. All we did was make it easier for a fan to purchase the record. Please open your mind to new ways of selling records. The business and artists need these avenues. For God’s sake, Tower Records is gone! Embrace the new paradigm. Soon physical product will be gone also. At least fans bought an entire album instead of just a song. RP
In contrast to Prince and Bon Jovi for Barbra Streisand’s three O2 Arena concerts in the same 2007 AEG Live set sky-rocketing prices. The face value of the tickets ranged between £100 and £500 while the secondary tickets (those sold through third parties) went up to £1,500.
By way of comparison let me say that the face value of tickets to Michael Jackson’s concerts was within the range of £50 to £75 while the price of secondary tickets reportedly went up to £10,000. The difference between the face value and the secondary tickets speaks to the popularity of the performer and is an extremely important factor to look into. Usually it indicates the true “market value” of the star and besides being an objective assessment of his merit is crucial for cases when tickets have to be returned (for whatever reason). The thing is that the balance between the face value and the price of secondary tickets is never returned, so if you paid £10,000 the most you will get back will be £75, and this gives the concert promoters certain opportunities.
The level of prices for Barbra Streisand’s concerts and the huge demand for Michael’s shows made me think that to reach the same sum from the concerts Michael didn’t really need 50 shows.
All he needed was a little rise in the price of his tickets.
The London concerts in my opinion were too strenuous for Michael to give them away cheap, so those of us who could not afford to see Michael Jackson live could be given an opportunity to see Internet pay-per-view concerts at a minimal price (as AEG’s competitor AllGoodEntertainment was planning to).
Another possibility was to arrange a series of 3D documentaries that could be shown in the movie theatres belonging to the same AEG or sell the footage to TV round the world. In short there were ways how to find a reasonable compromise between the huge desire of fans to attend Michael’s concerts and the respectable price of tickets which could alleviate some of Michael’s financial problems and help him to make his dream about a children’s hospital come true.
Michael Jackson was surely a no lesser star than Barbra Streisand and what Barbra Streisand’s spokesman said about the price of tickets to her show and her performance being “the momentous occasion comparable to seeing Elvis or Sinatra” applied to Michael Jackson all the more so:
Barbra Streisand charges up to £500 per ticket for comeback show
by PAUL REVOIR
01 May 2007
Fans wanting to see Barbra Streisand perform in the UK for the first time in 13 years will have to pay as much as £500 for the privilege, making the concert one of the most expensive ever.
The cheapest seats for the diva’s show at London’s O2 Arena – the former Millennium Dome – will cost £100, with top ticket prices more than three times what it would cost for the best seats at a Rolling Stones or Madonna concert.
Critics claimed Miss Streisand, 65, was exploiting her fans’ goodwill.
But her camp defended the sky-high prices by calling a live performance by the singer a “momentous occasion” comparable to seeing Elvis or Sinatra.
The last time Miss Streisand played in the UK, in 1994, ticket touts were forced to sell tickets below face value after the expected demand failed to materialise.
Her concert at the venue in London’s Docklands on July 18, featuring a 58-piece orchestra, will be one of five European dates for the singer-actress.
…Madonna was criticised last year when tickets for her Confessions tour were priced between £80 and £160 while the top tickets to see the Stones at Twickenham this summer are £150.
Part of the proceeds from the tour will be donated to good causes through the Barbra Streisand Foundation.
A spokesman for the star said: “Seeing Barbra Streisand in concert is a pretty momentous occasion that ranks up there with seeing Sinatra or Elvis.
Well, if Madonna’s tickets were between £80 and £160 in 2006 (three years before Michael Jackson’s concerts), not to mention the 2007 Barbra Streisand tickets at £100 to £500, why were the tickets for Michael Jackson’s concerts set at only £50 and £75 two years later? It is inflation, you know, and wouldn’t the higher price of tickets befit Michael Jackson’s name better in addition to sparing his health and reducing the number of shows which was Michael’s biggest desire?
Let us do some maths as an example.
With the O2 Arena seating capacity of 20,000, the tickets to only one Barbra Streisand’s show collected the gross sum of £2mln to £10 mln – £6mln on average (if no secondary tickets are included here, of course). But the same tickets for one Michael Jackson’s show were collecting only £1mln to £1,5mln – or £1,25mln on average.
The gross sum collected from secondary tickets to Michael’s concerts, which were approximately half of all the tickets, was incomparably higher than the official sum and is difficult to estimate. If the tickets were sold at a price ten times as high (£500 – £750) the gross collection from one show could be £10mln to £15mln. And if the price per secondary ticket reached £10,000 as some papers reported, the resulting gross sum could be an astronomical one.
But if we compare the average sums collected from the face value tickets for the shows of Streisand and Jackson (£6mln and £1,25mln) we’ll see that a single Barbra Streisand’s concert was bringing as much as four Michael Jackson’s concerts.
That is why Michael Jackson had to do 50 concerts while Streisand would have had to do only 12,5 to reach the same sum.
No, I am not suggesting that Michael’s fans should be subjected to this highway robbery, and Michael wouldn’t have agreed to it anyway – all I am trying to say is that a reasonable compromise could and in my opinion should have been reached considering that Michael wasn’t a boy and his show was physically demanding in the extreme. A fewer number of shows could have spared Michael’s health, lessened his stress and reduced the production expenses that were to be paid by Michael and Michael alone (salary to dancers, their feed and accommodation, travel expenses, visas, equipment, transportation, etc.). All of it could have been cut and still get the same money if only the prices of tickets had been raised at least to the level of Madonna’s 2006 shows.
Let me say it again that to satisfy the desire of Michael’s fans to see his concerts AEG Live could have televised them and shown them via Internet on a pay-per-view basis or could have sold the footage to some TV channels. Those fans who could not afford a live concert could have watched the show on the Internet at a symbolic price, while the most would have surely agreed to pay more to see with their own eyes the miracle of a fifty-year old man dancing like a twenty-year old.
Didn’t Randy Phillips himself say in his above email that we should ‘open our mind’ to ‘new venues’ and ‘embrace new paradigms’? And didn’t he also say that ‘soon physical product will be gone’ evidently referring to performers? Especially middle-aged performers? But if they were to be gone soon, shouldn’t something have been done to spare them and help them get the best terms possible which would be suitable for them, their fans and their concert promoters?
The only thing AEG Live needed for opening their minds to ’new paradigms’ as regards Michael Jackson was the desire to work out the best working scenario for him and find a proper compromise between the intensity of the tour, its length and the price of the tickets. However for Michael Jackson none of it was done.
3. THE COMPETITOR
UPDATED: In contrast to the giant AEG Live their smaller competitor AllGoodEntertainment did think of Michael being no longer a boy and the need to spare him, so it was them who came up with the idea of an Internet pay-per-view show. AllGoodEntertainment made arrangements with Frank Dileo who promised to try and arrange a concert by Michael Jackson and his siblings. He wasn’t Michael’s manager at the time but they did talk on the phone occasionally. The show was never agreed to by Michael, and we are not even sure that he or his siblings were aware of what Frank Dileo was planning for them.
Michael Jackson did not want to do a reunion concert which Joe Jackson was trying to organize mostly for his own sake and his other children, but from the financial point of view the concert planned by AllGoodEntertainment could have brought Michael at least three times as much money as a much more strenuous concert with AEG. The plans of AllGoodEntertainement were brilliant however their biggest problem was financing of the project:
“The plan of AllGood Entertainment was to host a “one-time event” tentatively titled “The Jackson Family Reunion: A Concert for the World” in the summer of 2009. The concert would star Michael and Janet Jackson while also including his siblings: LaToya, Rebbie, and all of his brothers. Billed as “The Most Anticipated Concert Event in Music History” the concert was anticipated to gross more than $93 million through a variety of means including ticket sales (at $135 each), sponsoring, Pay-Per-View access, DVD and CD sales, merchandising, digital downloads, broadcasting, and licensing. Using such a figure as a selling point, the company sought out a sponsorship to help fund the endeavor which included around $30 million of expenses.
…The event would be day long and recorded professionally for Pay-Per-View and DVD releases with a projected first-showing audience of 100 million. The Pay-Per-View would fetch and estimated 3 to 7 million purchasers at $30 each, and there would be a worldwide market campaign building up to the event.
…[One of the agreements between AllGood Entertainment and Frank Dileo ] called for at least a 90 minute performance by Michael Jackson and 150 minute performance overall by all parties of the Jackson family.
…In summary, two contracts and agreements were signed by December 1, 2008 by Frank Dileo and parties relating to Dileo’s agency and AllGood Entertainment’s agency. None of these contracts bare any signature of the Jacksons, nor has there been any confirmation that the Jackson siblings are aware of these concert-related plans.
…On October 30, 2008 (one month before any such contracts, proposals, or agreements were drafted and signed), Michael Jackson issued the following statement: “My brothers and sisters have my full love and support, and we’ve certainly shared many great experiences, but at this time I have no plans to record or tour with them. I am now in the studio developing new and exciting projects that I look forward to sharing with my fans in concert soon.”
Later AllGoodEntertainment announced that for Michael Jackson’s 90 minutes of performance at that one-night event they would offer him $3 million. This sum makes me think that if Michael had agreed to do a solo concert with them the remuneration from that concert promoter could have been even higher.
We cannot be sure that AllGoodEntertainment would have raised the necessary $30mln for producing the show, but the fact that the terms of the offer were less demanding and more profitable for Jackson is indisputable in my opinion.
It is also interesting that AllGoodEntertainment was planning to spend the same $30mln on production as the sum eventually provided by AEG and this means that the scale of the show was supposed to be the same. The only difference was that all production expenses borne by AEG were to be later compensated for by Michael Jackson. As to AllGoodEntertainment I don’t know – possibly not, as it is the first time I hear of the need for the performer to fully cover all the expenses on the show. Why need the concert promoter then? The same could have been done through a bank…
The questions why Michael Jackson preferred AEG to AllGoodEntertainement and rumors that Frank Dileo made arrangements with AllGood behind Michael’s back and even took advance money from them will not be the point of the present discussion – AllGoodEntertainment took Dileo to court and I hear he proved there that he hadn’t done any wrong.
The point I am trying to make is that the comparison with another concert promoter shows that AEG Live could have arranged Michael Jackson’s shows in a way that could make them less rigorous and physically demanding, but at the same time more profitable – but this of course only in case AEG Live wanted it that way.
4. THE MAD MARATHON
The other issue I needed to check was the time space between the concerts arranged for Michael Jackson by AEG Live.
Barbra Streisand’s schedule included three shows on the London O2 Arena during her European tour in 2007. The dates of the shows were set with a span of 3-4 days between them, with the exception of 5 days in the middle and 2 days before the last show:
21 June Vienna Schloss Schonbrun
26 June Paris Bercy
30 June Berlin Waldbuhne
4 July Stockholm The Globe
10 July Manchester MEN Arena
14 July Dublin Castletown House
18 July London The O2 Arena
22 July London The O2 Arena
25 July London The O2 Arena
The schedule worked out by AEG Live for Michael Jackson and his first 10 concerts in July 2009 was dramatically different.
The dates of the shows were set on the show/day-off/show/day-off basis from beginning to end. You will agree that even if Michael Jackson was able to do something of the kind in his younger years, it does not mean that he could do it at the age of 50 and after a break of twelve years too.
Even when he was young Michael used to say that he would no longer be able to keep up with the pace of the tour, so you don’t have to be a genius to realize that a similar schedule for Jackson in 2009 was totally unrealistic, physically impossible and even humiliating for a 50 year-old singer who was also to dance during the major part of his show.
However all these considerations didn’t stop AEG from setting the first 10 shows one after another with hardly any days off. This was how the first 10 shows were set:
- Wednesday, July 08
- Friday, July 10
- Sunday, July 12
- Tuesday, July 14
- Thursday, July 16
- Saturday, July 18
- Wednesday, July 22
- Friday, July 24
- Sunday, July 26
- Tuesday, July 28
Besides almost all dates going one after another with only one day off between them, what also amazes me is that the above scenario was not only grueling, but also totally uncalled for – there was no rush and no need to press Jackson to perform at such a backbreaking tempo. Or was it?
The itinerary also makes it clear that the dates were set by the concert promoter and possibly by Michael Jackson’s manager, but not by Michael Jackson himself . The schedule was so much going against his interests that he clearly did not take part in the decision making.
Why AEG Live and Tohme did it for Michael still remains to be looked into. In the meantime here is the record of how things were developing – the sale of the tickets began on March 11, 2009 and the dates were announced the day before:
Michael Jackson Reveals London Concert Dates
March 10, 2009 08:13:29 GMT
Ten concert dates for Michael Jackson’s gigs at London’s O2 Arena have been announced. Described as a “big budget, grand, highly technical, incredible show”, the concerts will begin on July 8 and will be wrapped up on July 28.
On what fans can expect from the upcoming concerts, Randy Phillips, a chief promoter of AEG Live tells BBC that since Michael is a perfectionist, he will come up with a new idea. “Michael Jackson is a perfectionist, so it’s going to be amazing,” Randy says. “He’ll try a lot of new things.”
Michael Jackson previously said that his London concerts will be his “Final Curtain Call”. During a press conference at London’s O2 Arena, he stated, “I just wanted to say, these will be my final show performances in London. When I say this is it, it really means this is it. I’ll be performing the songs my fans want to hear. This is it, this is really it, this is the final curtain call.”
Michael Jackson’s London concert dates:
- Wednesday, July 08
- Friday, July 10
- Sunday, July 12
- Tuesday, July 14
- Thursday, July 16
- Saturday, July 18
- Wednesday, July 22
- Friday, July 24
- Sunday, July 26
- Tuesday, July 28
© AceShowbiz.com http://www.aceshowbiz.com/news/view/00022648.html
However this was only the beginning of the marathon. Immediately after selling tickets for the first 10 shows literally within minutes an additional number of shows was announced. The number itself was not known. Rumor had it that 12 more shows would be added, and Reuters reported that it was Michael Jackson who allowed AEG to add extra shows:
Michael Jackson to add concerts after sellout
LONDON | Wed Mar 11, 2009 1:39pm EDT
(Reuters) The 50-year-old singer has been a virtual recluse since his acquittal on child abuse charges in a 2005 trial, his last full set of live concerts was 12 years ago and he has not recorded an album of new music since “Invincible” in 2001.
Last week he announced his long-awaited comeback at London’s O2 Arena, where he plans a Las Vegas-style “residency” with a series of 10 concerts beginning on July 8.
“The pre-sale 10 shows at The O2 that went on sale this morning at 7 a.m. have already sold out,” said Outside Organization, the PR company representing promoter AEG Live.
“Due to the incredible level of interest, Michael Jackson has allowed AEG Live to add extra shows.”
It was not immediately clear how many concerts would be added. The website of music magazine Rolling Stone reported 12 extra concerts had been booked.
AEG Live said last week it may extend Jackson’s London series and launch gigs elsewhere in the world if the demand was there.
Jackson is still the “King of Pop” to his legions of fans despite his sometimes bizarre behavior and appearance in recent years. He has sold around 750 million records, won 13 Grammys and is regarded as one of the biggest pop acts of all time.
Organizers said fans should log on to website http://www.michaeljacksonlive.com for information on the additional shows.
By midday it was clear that 16 more shows were added, thus taking the schedule as far as September 10th. Now Michael Jackson was to give 26 shows from July 8 to September 10th:
- July 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30
- August 1, 3, 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 26, 28, 30
- September 1, 3, 6, 8, 10.
Looking at this schedule and at the breaks of 5 days (after August 3d) and 4 days (after August 12th) in the middle of it, I see that even if Michael Jackson discussed the schedule with AEG Live, which I highly doubt, all he managed to get from them was a little rest in the middle of the marathon. But as to the remaining dates the schedule was simply bizarre.
Instead of spacing the shows more evenly and giving the artist some rest on a regular basis, the 50-year old Michael Jackson was supposed to first run a marathon of 13 concerts, then have some short breaks in the middle, and then run the second marathon of 11 more shows, all of them set at an incredible show/day-off/show/day-off pace.
I doubt that Michael Jackson’s well-being or survival were on the minds of AEG Live functionaries when they were setting this brutal schedule for him.
The media was closely following the situation and what was Michael Jackson’s shock, pain and anxiety became a thrilling circus for the media and the public:
How Thrilling: Michael Jackson adds 16 more shows to London run
BY MELINDA NEWMAN WEDNESDAY, MAR 11, 2009 3:13 PM
We’re still not sure that he’ll even make it on stage (British oddmakers are even taking the bets), but Michael Jackson has added 16 more concerts to her run at London’s O2 Arena.
According to Billboard, that brings the total number of shows to 26. The first 10 shows have yet to go on sale to the general public. Pre-sale tickets for the first shows went on sale today for those who registered
through www.michaeljacksonlive.com. AEG Live, which is promoting the shows, told Billboard that 10 shows sold out their pre-allocation amount. That amount is believed to be 50% of the total tickets available.
The general public can buy tickets starting March 13.
The 26-date run now spans July 8-Sept. 10. Prices are $68.82 to $103.23. Prince played 21 dates at the same venue in 2007.
But even then the marathon was not yet over. Two days after the first 26 shows were so swiftly announced and sold out, on March 13th another 24 shows were added thus making it 50. It did not happen in one stroke either, but was again done in fits and starts – first one number was announced, then another one, and then finally 5 more shows were added.
The summer/autumn season was supplemented with four more shows to be done in September – 21, 23, 27, 29, thus bringing the first leg of the tour to a total of 30 shows.
Then came a three months break and 20 more shows were added in January and February 2010. What’s incredible about the winter season was that the new dates followed the same grueling show/day-off/show/day-off pattern as if AEG Live had nothing to learn from the first leg and this hectic scenario was all they could ever offer to Michael Jackson.
Among other things the three months break in between meant that for the winter time AEG Live would not have any problems with filling in the shows on O2 Arena due to Michael’s death – those concerts were too far off to worry about the replacements, so all Randy Phillips’ lamentations over the need to immediately fill in their precious arena for 50 nights could concern only the first leg of 30 shows.
The newly added dates were as follows:
- September – 21, 23, 27, 29
- January 7, 9, 12, 14, 16, 18, 23, 25, 27, 29
- February 1, 3, 8, 10, 12, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24
Over here I have a question. If they made a ‘mistake’ of setting the dates too close to each other in the first part of the tour, what was driving AEG Live to do the same in the second part of it? Frankly, this schedule does not look like a recipe for success – to me it looks like a recipe for a disaster and an intentional one at that. In fact it is something like, “If we didn’t do him in the first time, this time we’ll make it”.
Below is the news about the 50 concerts the way it was reported on March 13, 2009. There is also some vague talk here about the Viagogo broker selling the secondary tickets, and though Randy Phillips is trying to underestimate the problem all of it is about a huge speculation with Michael Jackson’s tickets done with full AEG Live’s knowledge as they are the first to collect the surplus money.
Actually Randy Phillips was worried that their partner Viagogo was probably trying to reduce the price of the secondary tickets demanded by AEG Live:
Michael Jackson tickets for ‘This Is It’ concert series sell out in hours
By Allison Reitz
Fri, Mar 13th 2009 1:50 pm EDT
Just hours after sales opened to the public, tickets sold out for all 50 dates of Michael Jackson’s comeback run at the O2 Arena in London. CNN reported that approximately 750,000 tickets were sold-out during a four-hour time slot.
Due to overwhelming demand for tickets, 35 shows were added over the course of presales, which began March 11. Jackson’s stay at the O2 was initially set at 10 dates, with the option to add more performances as dictated by public demand.
However, all 45 concerts quickly sold out their total presale allotment of approximately 360,000 tickets. As a result, concert promoter AEG Live added five more dates — for a total of 50 shows — to today’s general on-sales.
Jackson’s 50-show sell-out shatters eclectic musician Prince’s 21-night record at the O2 and defies industry expectations for the 50-year-old. Even AEG Live is stunned by the positive response from fans around the world.
“We never thought ’50 shows’ and frankly, based on the queues on Ticketmaster, plus the 300,000 registrants we still haven’t issued codes to, we could spend two years here,” AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips said during an interview with BBC Radio 1. “Mike asked me how long he would be in the United Kingdom for, and I told him, ‘Probably long enough to get a British passport.'”
Despite the broken records and astronomical sales figures, Jackson’s unprecedented comeback has not been without its share of controversy.
Concerns have risen in the media over AEG Live’s deal to sell premium-priced tickets for high-demand seats directly through official secondary partner, viagogo. Recently,Madonna set up a similar deal with the site, which is the official premium ticket outlet and fan-to-fan resale base for her upcoming Sticky & Sweet summer 2009 tour extension in Europe.
In an interview with Billboard, Phillips explained the deal as a chance “to give fans access to premium seats and the market would set the price on only a small percentage of the house every night; and, secondly, to give fans a peer-to-peer platform where they know these tickets aren’t counterfeited.”
However, Phillips then alleged that viagogo contacted brokers with discounts on the premium tickets rather than selling them directly to fans on the site’s exchange platform. AEG Live is reportedly seeking an injunction against viagogo in London courts today (March 13) to ensure that the premium tickets go to fans. Viagogo did not respond to requests for comment.
Michael Jackson 2009 schedule:
(Dates are subject to change.)
July 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30
August 1, 3, 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 26, 28, 30
September 1, 3, 6, 8, 10, 21, 23, 27, 29
Michael Jackson 2010 schedule:
(Dates are subject to change.)
January 7, 9, 12, 14, 16, 18, 23, 25, 27, 29
February 1, 3, 8, 10, 12, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24
The note about the “dates subject to change” should not fool anyone here. This is what they evidently said to Michael to reassure him and dispel his fears, if they ever talked to him about it, but the possibility of changing the dates was non-existent. With a million tickets on the customers’ hands (20,000 seats multiplied by 50 shows) and half of them being secondary tickets (sold through third parties at sky-high prices) it would have been extremely difficult to change the dates – even technically, not to mention the negative publicity of the delays.
A much easier way would have been to space the dates evenly, with 3 or 4 days breaks in between (like in Barbra Streisand’s case) from the start of it, and only then offer tickets for sale.
However this was not the way AEG Live wanted it. For some reason they chose to first sell the tickets to an extremely harsh schedule for Jackson and only then make Michael Jackson face this reality.
Now we know that when Michael Jackson got familiar with the schedule made for him by his ‘partners’ he went into a panic.
Usually people name Michael’s bad financial situation as a reason for Michael’s huge stress, however this situation had been dogging Michael for many years already and never made him really panic. Michael seemed to know how to distance himself from all those money troubles. Even in the tape made by Conrad Murray while he was putting Michael under sedation, Michael was talking of giving away money for a children’s hospital he was dreaming of. If he had been terribly concerned about his finances, his half-conscious condition was exactly the time when his worst fears would have been voiced – however the way he spoke of money showed that the finances were not his top worry, at least not at that moment.
Then what was his top worry?
From the way he reacted to the schedule made for him by AEG Live and Tohme I think he panicked when he saw how impossible for his mere survival that schedule was and how terribly the people he relied on had betrayed him. This was probably the first time he realized that those who had induced him into the project were not meaning him any good.
5. DAVID GEST: THE PRESSURE KILLED JACKSON
Irrespective of what we think of Michael’s flamboyant friend David Gest the story he is telling us of Michael’s panicky reaction to the AEG schedule and details of the way the number of those shows grew are perfectly in line with what we’ve just learned about the same events from other sources.
David Gest says that it was the stress Michael had to live with from the moment of seeing that schedule that actually killed him:
Published Monday, Jun 29 2009, 09:33 BST | By Mayer Nissim
David Gest has claimed that Michael Jackson was killed by the stress of his impending live shows at London’s O2.
The TV star and singer’s friend told The Sun that Jackson was unhappy at having been booked to play 50 shows, rather than the ten originally announced.
Gest said: “Michael told me he was excited about getting back on stage. I told him I was proud of him. But I really believe in my heart of hearts that the pressure of those concerts killed Michael.
“He thought there were going to be ten dates as announced. But then all of a sudden [Doctor Tohme R.] Tohme, along with Randy Phillips, president of organisers AEG, had arranged 20, 30 then 50 dates.”
He added: “Michael was being told: ‘You are going to set the world record for concerts at the O2, you are going to beat Prince’s record.’
“They knew how to feed into his ego. But when Michael realised his schedule, he began to panic. It was one show after another, with hardly any days off. He should never have been tied to so many, especially a guy who dances through more than half of his set.”
Let me repeat it again:
- “He thought there were going to be ten dates as announced. But then all of a sudden Tohme, along with Randy Phillips, president of organisers AEG, had arranged 20, 30 then 50 dates.”
- “It was one show after another, with hardly any days off.”
The above is a correct description of what the schedule was really like and a very accurate account of the way the tickets were really sold – first 10, then 26 quickly turning into 30, and then 50 shows including the winter season.
So according to David Gest, initially Michael was not aware of what was going on with the schedule and what rigors it had in store for him. But when the euphoria of all that enthusiastic welcome passed and he did realize it, he saw that the dates were simply impossible to keep up with. One show was going after another with hardly any days off and this was supposed to take place for a period of three months!
And then, as if this was not enough for them, they arranged the same schedule for the winter time and this ugly pattern of one show after another was repeated again! Why, why were they so insistent on this mad race?
I’m afraid that none of us are able to imagine the sickness Michael must have felt when realizing the disaster. Bad as it was, it was also the realization that nothing could be changed that contributed to the shock. Now that a million tickets had been sold the situation was inevitable, irreversible – it was hopeless.
If we didn’t know of the way Barbra Streisand’s concerts were organized we could imagine that cramming all shows into the shortest period of time was AEG’s usual practice. The reason why they could be doing it was not to mix the main event with others and therefore make it as compressed as possible, even despite the fact that they were dealing with human beings and not machines.
But we do have Barbra Streisand’s example and know for sure that it was quite possible for AEG Live to have a break of 3 – 4 – and even 5 – days between the shows!
AEG Live could have filled the spaces in between Michael’s concerts with something else as they evidently did it with Barbra Streisand and it did not harm them a bit and they perfectly survived the practice.
So a proper schedule for Michael Jackson was just a matter of how much goodwill they were ready to extend to Michael Jackson and whether they really wanted him to make those 50 shows.
Yes, the other side of this mad marathon was that it could rebuff on AEG Live too – if Michael did not cope with the rigors of it they would have also lost on those concerts (or wouldn’t they?).
So if they didn’t want to lose those concerts why were they doing it to him then?
This must have been the question constantly on Michael Jackson’s mind and something his emotional state heavily depended on. If we learn whether he found an answer to this question (and if we find this answer ourselves) we can consider the box of the mystery unlocked.
The sure conclusion we can make at this stage is that the strenuous schedule arranged by AEG Live and Tohme for Michael Jackson was absolutely not a must and this poses a question why these people chose to arrange things the way they did arrange it for Michael Jackson. I hope we will be able to answer this question one day.
6. TOHME TOHME
David Gest pointed to Tohme Tohme as the main person with whom Michael associated the disastrous schedule.
To be more precise, Gest did not name all the people Michael was unhappy with and just made a general statement about it. From what he said we can gather that the mess was the result of Michael trusting wrong people and one of those people was Tohme Tohme:
Michael Jackson ‘Trusted Wrong People’
29 June 2009
One of Michael Jackson’s closest friends, David Gest, insists the singer was surrounded by bad advisors and the stress of preparing for his 50-night London residency killed him.
David Gest has blamed Michael Jackson’s advisers for his death.
The 55-year-old concert promoter – a friend of the late ‘Thriller’ singer since he was 11 – insists the pressure of preparing for a 50-night run of concerts caused the fatal suspected cardiac arrest that killed Michael on Thursday (26.06.09), singling doctor Tohme R. Tohme for particular responsibility.
David said: “We all have weaknesses and Michael’s was that he trusted the wrong people most of the time. He thought people were good, which they are not.
“Michael was in terrible pain and all he cared about was feeling better. He started taking prescription pills to numb the pain and he also started drinking. It was then that his judgement started to become clouded.
“Michael told me he was excited about getting back on stage. But I really believe in my heart of hearts that the pressure of those concerts killed Michael.”
David believes his friend was misled when he agreed to his ‘This Is It’ residency, which was due to begin at London’s O2 arena next month and the stress of such a gruelling schedule was “too tough”.
He added to Britain’s The Sun newspaper: “Michael thought there was going to be 10 dates as announced. But then all of a sudden Thome, with Randy Phillips, president of organisers AEG, had arranged 20, then 30, then 50 dates.
“Michael was being told, ‘You are going to set the world record for concerts at the O2.’
“They knew how to feed into his ego. But when Michael realised his schedule he began to panic. They should have realised doing one concert a day, then one day off, would be tough for any performer, let alone someone who hadn’t been on stage for nine years, it was ridiculous.
“Michael was working his a*s off for eight hours a day to prepare, the schedule didn’t allow him any time to rest. I know for a fact he was rehearsing until 2am the morning before he died.”
So Michael was working for eight hours every day to prepare for the extremely tough schedule.
The point about pain after realizing the fraud does not necessarily mean physical pain – it could be the emotional and mental anguish Michael was going through (though with Michael’s lupus it could be anything). The idea of “painkillers and drinking” may have been an exaggeration on Gest’s part, however a serious Michael’s breakdown at that moment cannot be ruled out.
Any of us would have broken down under the enormous shock, stress and despair of facing the need to do the impossible, and seeing the people whom you trusted and connected all your hopes with, betray and take advantage of you the way they did it to him.
The partnership with AEG Live was something Michael Jackson could not break up as he was tied to them by various papers and mostly by the advance of several millions they had given to him. One part of the money went into renting the house – the house was by the way found for Michael Jackson by Tohme Tohme (for a mere $100, 000 a month).
Tohme admitted it himself that it was he who got that house for Michael:
“We put a stage in his house in Vegas because before he was practising in the local hotels. He was writing music, working with choreographers. And after we start talking to AEG for the London gigs, I decided Vegas was not the right place for Michael to stay at the time, especially for the children…it is very hot in the summer.
‘LA is where all the action is. I convinced him to move to LA and he took residence at the Bel Air Hotel for three months. Then I rented the house for him. Then we signed the deal with AEG and we went to London – him, his kids, and me – and stayed at the Lanesborough Hotel.’
The other part of the money advanced by AEG Live to Michael Jackson went into settling the suit with the 2Seas records. Settling it was a condition on which the money was provided to Michael at all. As a result of all that obligatory spending even if Michael wanted to sever his relations with AEG he could not – there were simply no millions to return.
But his personal manager he could fire. And though he was afraid of this person very much indeed, the shock of finding Tohme working against his interests must have been so big that Michael raised himself to take the drastic step – part with Tohme and rehire Frank Dileo instead.
Let us note that though all these events were raging in the middle of March, no information about Michael’s situation was leaked to the press until two months later in early June. It was then that Michael privately spoke to his fans about the shock of 50 concerts he didn’t want to do, and his anger towards the concert promoter that pushed him into that incredible schedule. But when it first happened in March Michael kept silent about it and would have continued to keep silent if the media had not learned it from Michael’s fans.
But these two months of silence did not mean that all this time Michael was not worried about the situation or was not angry with Tohme and AEG Live. No, he was and very much so, and it is quite probable that his frustration was growing with each new day as he was observing the slow production of the show. Why did they engage him in this mad race if they themselves were so slow?
According to Randy Phillips himself they did not start to implement the show until April and the choice of dancers for it began only in May. In his testimony at Conrad Murray’s trial Randy Phillips said:
- ”In March no production had not started. It didn’t kick into gear until sometime in April”. https://vindicatemj.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/conrad-murray-trial-week-5/
As to the moment when the crisis with Tohme, AEG Live and their tour schedule for Michael took place it must have erupted around March 10-13 and this coincides very well with what Frank told us about the time when Michael hired him.
It was March too.
7. FRANK DILEO BECOMES MICHAEL’S MANAGER
In his interview of June 2009 with Roy Trakin http://www.hitsdailydouble.com/news/newsPage.cgi?news07696m01 Frank Dileo confirmed every single fact that has just been discussed here.
He said that Michael called him in March, that Tohme had “miscalculated” the scheduling of the dates and that it was something Michael wanted Frank Dileo to take care of because Michael did not want to perform more than twice a week. Tohme is so abominable a character that Dileo even refused to discuss him:
An exclusive HITS interview with Frank DiLeo
July 30, 2009
Dileo: Michael first called me a couple of years ago, after he came back from Bahrain, then was in Ireland and Vegas for a while. We chitchatted, he called again and we started communicating about film projects. There were a couple of scripts we wanted to develop and produce. Then he got involved in this concert deal. He called me in March and said, “Frank, I need someone with a little bit of experience. Would you like to manage me again and take care of all this stuff?” And I said, “Yeah, sure.” By the time I came in, everything was signed. Dr. Thome Thome—who is someone I don’t want to talk about in this interview—had miscalculated the scheduling on the dates, which is something I had to take care of, because Michael didn’t want to perform more than twice a week.
Though Frank Dileo was rehired by Michael Jackson to help him with adjusting the schedule, Dileo didn’t really do anything for him – except that three July dates were shifted to March 2010. But it is also possible that the shift had nothing to do with Dileo’s efforts.
The show was not ready, so they took the July 8th, 10th and 12th dates and shifted them to March next year, appointing July 13th as the new starting date of the tour. AEG Live and Kenny Ortega explained the changes by the need to finish the technical side of the show. The show was indeed far from ready, so there is a very high probability that the shift of three dates to March was none of Frank Dileo’s achievements.
The official and true version of the delay was voiced on May 20, 2009 and may be now seen as a great illustration of how the truth was told but still never believed due to the extreme bias against Jackson:
Michael Jackson’s London Shows Already Delayed
by Josh Grossberg
Wed., May. 20, 2009 12:56 PM PDT
Is the King of Pop already fizzling out?
No doubt to the delight of British bookies who predicted the shows wouldn’t go on, Michael Jackson announced today that he was pushing back the dates for his heavily hyped comeback concerts set for this summer in London.
His 50-show residency at the O2 Arena, dubbed “This Is It,” had been slated to kick off on July 8. The new start date—at least for now—is July 13.
And what exactly is the reason for the delay?
“There’s nothing nefarious,” Randy Phillips, CEO of concert promoter AEG Live, said in a video news conference Wednesday. “There’s nothing going on with his health. This is strictly a production issue.”
AEG claims the “massive and technically complex show,” which will feature special effects, live animals, intricate illusions, stunt work, elaborate costumes and plenty of dancing, is requiring more prep time than originally planned.
“We apologize to all disappointed Michael Jackson fans and remain extremely dedicated and focused on creating an exceptional live music experience,” said the show’s choreographer, Kenny Ortega . “Promoters said anyone who chooses not to attend the rescheduled shows will be entitled to a full refund.”
Performances set for July 10-14 will now be rescheduled for next March, likely ticking off those fans who thought they had the coveted seats to Jackson’s first live shows in more than a decade.
Jackson is said to be rehearsing six hours a day in a Los Angeles studio with eight dancers—six men and two women—handpicked from dance companies from around the world.
But even if the production gets squared away, there’s a chance Jackson could be derailed before taking the stage. Rival promoter AllGood Entertainment is threatening to sue the performer for breach of contract for refusing to participate in a Jackson family reunion show with the rest of his brothers and sister Janet. According to the terms of that deal, Jackson had allegedly agreed to a noncompete clause barring him from any other live concerts before the family show.
At a top-secret meeting with family members and business associates last week, Jackson said he won’t do the family act. He claims his former manager signed the deal with AllGood without the Gloved One’s permission. AEG Live has called the claims “meritless” and said the London shows will go on.
Michael Jackson postpones London O2 concerts
Joe Bosso May 20, 2009,
The self-proclaimed King Of Pop was originally scheduled to begin his 50-date This Is It run on 8 July. Now that date has been pushed back to 13 July, according to promoters for the shows.
Additionally, shows that had been scheduled for 10, 12 and 14 July have been postponed until March 2010.
Choreographer Kenny Ortega, Jackson’s collaborator, said that the date changes were necessary to give Jackson more time to prepare a “flawless production.”
AEG Live, which is promoting the concerts, said in a statement that it was their “sincere hope that those lucky enough to have purchased tickets will have enough time to change their personal schedules and travel plans if they are coming from outside of London.
“We understand the inconvenience this may have caused and for this reason we have secured some excellent hotel deals for Michael Jackson fans traveling to London on these rescheduled dates.”
This past week, Jackson denied claims that he is battling skin cancer. These postponements will only increase chatter as to the stability of the singer’s health.
Whatever the case, we’ll see what happens on 13 July. This Is It? Maybe. Or maybe it won’t be, you know, ‘It.’
The Rolling stone article says that the “inconveniece” is an understatement. Though promoters announced a full refund for those who could not attend the March 2010 shows, the refund was only for the face value of the tickets, and not for the full price of the secondary tickets.
They article also mentions the fact that Michael has been rehearsing non-stop for the tour:
By DANIEL KREPS
May 20, 2009 2:09 PM ET
… “Inconvenience” is an understatement, as thousands of international fans were scheduled to flock to the British capital for the opening concerts of the 50-show run. For those who can’t attend the rescheduled dates, AEG Live is offering full refunds for their tickets, but that doesn’t account for people who bought tickets on the secondary market. Turns out those British bookmakers that bet against Jackson performing on July 8th from the onset were right.
Pessimists will pounce on reports that Jackson has been rehearsing non-stop for the tour, and ask whether five days will make a significant difference in his preparation. Or are there bigger problems — like that Jackson 5 tour lawsuit — and more postponements on the way? Rock Daily will have more on this story as we inch towards the (currently scheduled) opening of the This Is It Run.
Here’s the list of affected dates, per AEG Live:
8th July will take place on 13th July 2009
10th July will be moved to 1st March 2010
12th July will be moved to 3rd March 2010
14th July will be moved to 6th March 2010
These were the most decent of media reports about the May 20th announcement of the delay. It is clear that no one believed the official AEG Live version. Everyone attributed it wholly to Michael’s poor health and some (not quoted here) even had their field day mocking at his health and the delay it caused.
Amid reports about Michael’s “cancer” which for some reason evoked much fun and exhilaration, no one paid attention to the fact that at the end of May Michael Jackson had been rehearsing non-stop for the tour, or to be more precise, for six hours a day in a Los Angeles studio together with the hand-picked dancers. The dancers were indeed selected only in May 2009 which was a very late date for such a project.
From the media frenzy accompanying the announcement and the amount of mockery poured on poor Michael we can imagine what a volcano would have erupted if all the dates had been postponed as the earlier news promised it.
No, once the dates were set by AEG and Tohme, nothing could be done about it and this is what Michael must have realized very well – at least at the end of May when he saw the media reaction to what was a very moderate change in the schedule.
So all that information about the ‘dates being subject to change’ was just a pretence covering up for full impossibility of the postponement scenario. And AEG Live knew that as soon as they quickly sold out the tickets in March 2009 there was simply no way back.
From now on the only chance Michael had was to do the shows no matter what as resetting the dates was simply no option.
Would he be able to cope with the ruthless schedule they made for him? This question must have been constantly on Michael’s mind – the one he fell asleep with and woke up to…
As if apologizing for the little or nothing he did for Michael, Frank Dileo explained in his interview with Roy Trakin that “by the time he came, everything was signed”. He could be referring to the AEG Live contract (which was no good either and was only half-signed by Michael) or to the schedule made by Tohme and AEG Live, but the truth of the matter is that irrespective of what he referred to none of those papers were changed.
The 50 number of concerts remained the same and the disgraceful show/day-off/show/day-off pattern set for Michael from the very beginning of it remained there too.
You can compare the initial and resulting schedules yourself and will see no difference between them except for the first three shows shifted to March and even that was done not because of Jackson, but due to the slow production process.
So the most Dileo probably did for Michael was just creating the impression that now there was an old friend beside him and convincing him that what’s done is done and should be fulfilled by all means.
Frank Dileo was either helpless to do anything or unwilling to confront AEG Live, so the explanations he was giving to Roy Trakin should not be regarded as gospel truth. Some facts he mentioned there are perfectly correct as they coincide with everything else we know of the situation, but their interpretation by Dileo is the weakest part of his narration.
Since Frank Dileo achieved no results in the mission Michael Jackson hired him for, he preferred to shift all the blame onto Michael saying that the contract had been ‘read to him three times’ so he was ‘absolutely’ aware of the need to do 50 concerts when he was ‘signing’ for them.
Well, firstly, the fact of Michael’s signing anything still remains unproven as at least one of the two signatures looks fake, and secondly, this is the kind of a contract the full meaning of which cannot be grasped if you hear it only.
Hearing this paper can bring all of us, including Michael Jackson, absolutely nowhere as is structured in a way that unless you know what each definition in the Appendix means you won’t be able to understand the Contract itself. The Contract is a sort of an encoded message with keys to the decoding process kept in the Appendixes. This means that to be able to understand at least a bit of it you need to place all the papers side by side, compare them with each other and look into each letter of them with a magnifying glass.
And the third point crucial about that contract is that even after studying it with a magnifying glass you won’t be able to find any 50 concerts there. So when Frank Dileo’s says that Michael knew of them he is talking of something he himself has no idea of – there is no mention of 50 concerts in the contract:
Roy Trakin: Was Michael aware that he was signing for up to 50 individual shows?
Dileo: Absolutely. I read the contract. I know what the minimum amount of dates were, as well as the maximum number of dates. That contract was read to Michael by three different lawyers, as well as Dr. Thome. He wanted to beat Prince’s record and be in the Guinness Book of World Records. He was the one who picked the number 50. There were enough ticket sales to do 85 shows, but he was zeroed in on 50. That’s what he wanted and that’s what happened. Dr. Thome had him doing three or four shows a week, though. I was adjusting and moving dates to try to make it more palatable for Michael to do.
Let us not fall for Dileo’s bragging about adjusting the dates (he didn’t adjust any), but at the same time let us not overlook the reason he is naming for the problem itself – and this reason is Tohme who initially “had Michael doing three or four shows a week”.
And “doing three or four shows a week” is exactly the show/day-off/show/day-off schedule. So it was Tohme who arranged it for Michael Jackson and for AEG Live who readily accepted it or asked for it in the first place.
As if trying to explain his helplessness in dealing with AEG Live Frank Dileo then talked about his health. And his health was indeed far from good. Five years prior to the events, due to diabetic condition he had fully lost sight in one of his eyes and 80% of it in the other eye. The problem was diagnosed only two years later (2006) and then he underwent 6 operations. So by the time he was dealing with Michael’s contract his eyesight was so bad that he even ‘could not see well in the light’ and was able to read the text only if he moved his head in order to make out its letters.
How could a man like that grasp what the AEG contract was all about? No doubt that he gave it a perfunctory look only, especially since he was convinced that it was a signed paper and he himself was not ready to challenge AEG Live in any way:
Dileo: “In 2004 I lost my eyesight, and it’s taken six operations to enable me to see. I still have limited vision. It was a diabetic condition that separated the retina. I lost complete sight in one eye and 80% in the other eye. It took two years for them to figure that out. There’s a lot of scar tissue still, and I don’t see well in light. I have to wear dark glasses all the time. I have to move my head to see certain letters because I have a permanent “V” in my vision.”
Frank Dileo says that with his coming Michael felt much more secure and was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. He regained some of his confidence and was regularly training with his instructor Lou Ferrigno. We also learn that after the workout with his trainer Michael also danced for three hours every day.
Please remember that the May 20th articles said that Michael was training for 6 hours every day. The difference in the number of hours is not important – it could be variable and also depended on whether the workout with Lou Ferrigno was included or not.
What is important is that in May 2009 Michael was working, rehearsing and contributing his whole self to the show.
From Frank Dileo’s interview it also becomes clear that Michael reconciled himself to the impossibility to change anything about those 50 concerts and was working hard to build up his stamina in order to cope with the impossible schedule. And at some moment he reached the point when he realized that he could do it and this confidence of his was confirmed by at least three people – Frank Dileo, Lou Ferrigno and Randy Phillips himself (when Michael hugged him and said “Now I know I can do it”).
Here is an excerpt from Dileo’s interview where he speaks about the same:
Roy Trakin: You sat in on most of the rehearsals.
Dileio: Every single one. He was in good condition. He was working out with Lou Ferrigno. He was dancing over three hours every day after his workout. He was prepared. A lot of times he would watch and direct. These are songs he’s sung his whole life. He didn’t have to go full out every day. The last couple of weeks, he stepped it up. On the night before he died, when he came down after doing 10 or 11 songs, Kenny Ortega was at the bottom of the stairs, we all hugged and Michael put his arm around us and we around him, to walk him to his dressing room. And he said, “Frank, I’m ready. I’m doing all 50 shows. Don’t even think that I’m not.” We talked about possibly doing stadiums after the 50. He said, “Frank, I’ve never been happier. Since you’ve been back, things are going well. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We did it once. This is our time to do it again.” And that was the last time I saw him alive.
Roy Trakin: You’re telling me this is a very confident guy, ready to take on this challenge.
Dileo: He knew he was 50 and that the other dancers were young. He built his stamina up to the point where he knew he could do it. Michael’s a competitive guy. I don’t care whether you’re five years old or 40, you’re not going to out-dance Michael Jackson. He’s gonna put it to you sooner or later. And he worked himself up to that.
8. LAST POINT
Here is the last point of the interview and of this post too:
Roy Trakin: Where does that [Michael’s death] leave you at this point?
Dileo: There are a few things that have to get cleared up. I have to make sure the estate understands some of the things that I know. I’ve been appointed to the board of Sony/ATV Music Publishing. So I have a role to play there. Michael wrote the letter getting me appointed. After they removed Dr. Tohme, they added myself and Joel Katz.
Now this is complete news to me. So Tohme managed to reach the board of Sony/ATV Music Publishing at the time he was running Michael’s business? How very interesting.
And it is getting even more interesting in the light of Tohme and AEG’s plans for Michael Jackson – Tohme was playing with the idea of restructuring Michael’s business and even voiced it on a couple of occasions, and AEG’s contract had all assets of MJ’s company as collateral for the advances given to him.
It is true that those assets did not include the Sony/ATV catalog yet, but all the potential to acquire it was there, as in case the bankruptcy procedure was triggered off all Michael’s assets would become extremely vulnerable and accessible to the creditor. The only thing AEG Live had to do for starting the process was finding fault with Michael Jackson for at least something and ‘pulling the plug’ at this pretext. In this case Michael was supposed to immediately repay all the advances and since he was unable to do it, his bankruptcy was becoming a reality, turning his catalog acquisition by AEG Live into a reality too.
In fact AEG Live even threatened him to pull the plug if he didn’t attend every rehearsal. It doesn’t matter that their contract had no obligation for Michael Jackson to do it – they still said that it had, and therefore could realize their threat to pull the plug at any moment.
This was the reason why Michael Jackson was so eager to attend the rehearsal before his death on June 26th. This was the reason why all the stress accompanying the situation didn’t allow Michael to fall asleep that or other nights. If he had missed that damned rehearsal they could have stamped him out with their boot and that would have been the end of him.
However this is a projection only. The fact we know for sure now is that Tohme managed to go as far as the board of Sony/ATV Music Publishing. On the other hand Tohme was linked to AEG Live as even officially, according to their own contract with Michael Jackson, Tohme was on the payroll of AEG Live. This was the real reason why he did not leave the scene of the crime even after he was fired by Michael (in fact he was never even hired by him – Tohme said he was just helping him as a ‘friend’). Tohme could not leave the project as he was actually working for the other side and remained in it as AEG Live’s representative.
Now that we find Tohme on the board of Sony/ATV Music Publishing the catalog acquisition scenario does not look like science fiction any more. This scenario was something AEG propagandists here called a totally impossible one – however nothing is impossible under the sun and finding Tohme so close to the cherished Michael’s catalog is just another proof of it.
Fortunately at least in March 2009 Michael Jackson realized that Tohme was absolutely not the right person to be on the ATV Music Publishing board and took him away from it. I am not sure that it made Tohme and those around him happy.
However Michael still had to cope with the mad marathon they imposed on him.
* * *