The story of MICHAEL JACKSON, AEG’s FABRICATIONS and TWO medical examinations for the INSURANCE. Part 4
Notwithstanding the depressive feeling which the analysis of Michael’s last days produces on many of us, we still need to put into order a few more things we know about AEG Live. Rereading the articles of the period I ask myself a lot of questions and surprisingly, many of them begin to acquire clear answers.
To those who haven’t been following us let me make a short summary first. The 50 concerts disaster took place without Michael’s direct involvement and was arranged for him by AEG Live and Thome Thome who called himself Michael’s manager but never acted in his interests. Thome claimed they had an arrangement with Michael that he would not get into Michael’s creative process while Michael would not get into the way Tohme ran his business.
“We had an agreement,” Tohme continued. “I would never interfere with his creative decisions and he wouldn’t interfere with my business decisions.”
Since Tohme was holding Michael’s general power of attorney he thought himself free to arrange anything for Michael without his consent or at least well-informed consent. Even if they did notify Michael of the general idea of what they were doing, I am afraid that by March 2009 little depended on Michael anyway – his life was so much controlled by Barrack and Tohme (and later by AEG) through his obligations stemming from the Neverland deal that he could hardly dispute any of the big trio’s decisions.
Let me remind you that business with AEG Live was a condition set by Tom Barrack for “saving” Neverland. The word is in quotes as the essence of the deal is acquiring Michael’s property at a price lower than the market price. I have found the market price estimation of Neverland made by a local real property agent but will post it at a later time not to distract attention from the main topic now.
And the main topic now is AEG Live. The convenient setting created by Tohme and Barrack allowed AEG Live to take advantage of Michael for their own ends – after the initial ten concerts sold out within minutes greed overwhelmed AEG Live so much that there was no more stopping them.
They added forty more concerts without ever thinking whether the 50-year old performer would be able to do them. To me more exact, judging by the emails they exchanged between themselves, they probably thought that he would not make even a single concert, so in the long run what did it matter whether it would be 30 extra concerts or even 40? What really mattered was a million tickets sold and the fact that in case of a cancellation Michael Jackson would pay for it with his assets, while AEG Live will forever enjoy the fame of someone who wanted to “save” Michael Jackson, only this miserable creature failed it…
Sharon Osbourne recently confirmed what we suspected all along – the cancellation scenario was no less profitable to AEG than the concerts themselves, and it still remains to be seen which of the two scenarios suited AEG Live even better:
Sharon Osbourne has been called to testify in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial.
…Speaking on ‘The Talk,’ she said, ”There were people at that company who knew he was not well but didn’t care. Whether he performed or not, they’d still make money. I had conversations with people who said exactly that. I will tell people who said it.” http://www.mjworld.net/news/2013/04/07/sharon-osbourne-to-testify/
So they knew that Michael was not well, but did not care and therefore tried to squeeze from him the maximal profit. To do so they set the impossible 50 dates and did it in close cooperation with Tohme who acted as their close ally behind Michael’s back:
AEG’s Randy Phillips told CelebrityAccesss that they have been working with Dr. Tohme Tohme in connection with all of Michael Jackson’s dates.
The number of 50 was only half the problem for Michael. The much bigger problem was too little time between the shows. A break of one day only between the dates was obviously not enough for a man with huge insomnia problems who needed more than average time to regain his energy for the next show.
Michael was speaking of his insomnia quite freely and he no doubt discussed it with Tohme and AEG Live, saying that his absolute limit was 2 shows a week – however none of them listened. The schedule was set following a show/day off pattern and when Michael realized the scope of the disaster he fired Tohme.
But this did not help. Tohme stayed as he was an indispensable element to the big trio – to AEG Live in the first place who in their turn were heavily assisted by Tom Barrack:
The Los Angeles Times reported this past weekend that banker Tom Barrack, who runs Colony Capital, is heavily involved in Michael’s massive show-business comeback. Barrack’s company has major ownership interests here in the Las Vegas Hilton and the Stations Casino group.
WHO WAS MICHAEL’S MANAGER?
Did any of you ever wonder why no information about Tohme’s dismissal ever reach the media? There was a lot of usual mocking speculation about the mess in Michael Jackson’s affairs and three different people claiming they were sole Michael’s managers, but all of it was habitually explained by Michael’s “bizarre” ways. They preferred to make fun of it while the matter could have been clarified in the easiest way possible, just by Michael or AEG Live announcing to the press that Dr. Tohme was replaced by another manager.
However Michael could not announce a thing like that and AEG Live did not want to.
In fact even after the March dismissal of Tohme Randy Phillips still kept introducing him as Michael’s manager, thus humiliating Michael beyond measure and showing to everyone around his total disregard for Michael’s decisions.
No announcement was ever made because Tohme’s powerful backers made it impossible for the news of Tohme’s dismissal to reach the press. They were intentionally suppressing all mention of it and were probably taking pleasure in the resulting confusion as it was adding to Michael Jackson’s “bizarre” image which was only to their advantage.
On April 2, 2009 when this article was published no one could even imagine what a sad drama with Michael and his managers was going behind the scenes:
Will Michael Jackson’s Real Manager Please Stand Up
April 2, 2009
ATLANTA (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Rowe Entertainment appears to have sparked a controversy after they issued a press release through Champion Management, announcing that Leonard Rowe was going to be assuming management duties for the prodigal King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
Sources close to the matter have told CelebrityAccess that Rowe had joined forces with Michael Jackson’s father Joseph Jackson to convince Michael to let them assume handling the artist’s business affairs but that they had been rebuffed by the singer.
On the other side of the issue, Frank Dileo maintains that Rowe’s press release was less than factual and that they manage Jackson.
A spokesman for Dileo told CelebrityAccess that they would release a statement along with AEG to address Rowe’s claims next week and suggested that legal action may be in the offing.
However, AEG’s Randy Phillips told CelebrityAccesss that they have been working with Dr. Tohme Tohme in connection with all of Michael Jackson’s dates. Mr. Phillips went on to say that they are currently contemplating no legal action against Rowe and that they aren’t planning any press releases.
Rowe is known for his work as a tour promoter and has worked with a number of artists including Marvin Gaye, however his most recent spate of publicity stemmed from a string of lawsuits late last year over an R. Kelly tour that Rowe promoted.
According to court documents, Kelly accused Rowe of selling shares in Kelly’s “Double Up” tour to investors without Kelly’s permission, despite a contractual stipulation that barred such sales. The court agreed and awarded Kelly $3.4 million over the matter.
Kelly’s suit wasn’t the only litigation to stem from the tour and the investors who’d purchased the non-existent shares in the tour filed suit against Rowe as did singer Ne-Yo, who won a $700,000 judgment against Rowe after he was dropped from Kelly’s tour after only two shows.
Rowe was also part of a group of African-American promoters who attempted in 1998 to sue a number of entertainment firms, including CAA, WMA, Clear Channel Entertainment, APA and the HowardRoseAgency for $700 million, alleging racial discrimination. Several of the firms opted to settle but the case was finally rejected by the court in 2005.
Mr. Rowe did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
The question of who was Michael’s manager is relatively easy to decipher now. We just need to remember that since AEG Live was in full control of Michael Jackson’s life it was them who took decisions who would be his manager. After firing Tohme Michael most probably invited Leonard Rowe (or agreed to invite him following his father’s insistence), however Randy Phillips refused to deal with Rowe and confronted Michael with a sort of an ultimatum suggesting Frank Dileo as a compromise variant that would suit both sides.
From Tohme’s revelations to Randall Sullivan we know that AEG Live did not consider Frank Dileo a person capable of creating trouble for AEG Live, so they agreed to keep him by Michael’s side as a harmless old buddy who “made Michael laugh” and reminded him of the good old times they had once enjoyed together.
As regards Leonard Rowe they didn’t think him to be a serious opponent either as his candidacy was indeed not free from a certain ambiguity, but Rowe was capable of creating problems for AEG and this is why they pressed Michael into dismissing him.
The person of their choice was Tohme Tohme. This is really who AEG Live was ready to deal with and actually went on cooperating with.
Leonard Rowe’s own account of the story is fitting this picture perfectly well (his book and the dates will be quoted here from the blog: thttp://loveformichaeljackson.wordpress.com/category/tohme-tohme/)
March 21, 2009 Michael Jackson asks Leonard Rowe to come and work with him and to keep an eye on what AEG was doing and watch over his finances. (WRHTMJ – pg. 125)
March 25, 2009 Leonard Rowe appointment letter signed by Michael Jackson:
Randy Phillips/AEG address
Dr. Mr. Phillips
Please be advised that effective from the date of this letter, Mr. Leonard Rowe is my authorized representative in matters concerning my endeavors in the Entertainment Industry (or financial overseer only). All such matters concerning me shall be directed to Mr. Rowe (pertaining to finances [not legible]/and the 02 shows in london this can be revoked at any time) who shall act in my stead, until and unless I revoke this authorization.
Please extend every courtesy to Mr. Rowe.
State of California
County of Los Angeles
On March 25, 2009, before me personally came Michael Jackson, known to be to be the individual described in and who execued the foregoing, and acknowledge to me that he executed it.
*the information in parentheses is handwritten on the letter by Michael Jackson and the “not legible” in brackets is something handwritten in the letter that cannot be made out by this blogger. Misspelled words remain the same in the Notary Public paragraph as they are in letter provided by Mr. Rowe. Michael Jackson allegedly signed the letter. There is no notary public signature on the letter provided. (WRHTMJ – pg. 131)
In his book Leonard Rowe mentioned a very important point I did not know of – every leg of the show should have a separate signed contract by the artist before the tickets are put on sale (or it can be done as a signed Appendix to the general agreement). Needless to say, the AEG contract had nothing of the kind:
For starters, AEG sold out fifty shows but the contract between AEG and Michael does not mention fifty shows, it speaks only of thirty-one shows. In fact, Michael told me personally that he only originally agreed to do ten shows but evidently, contractually this number was increased to thirty-one. Surely a company the size of AEG, with their in-house attorneys, that promotes hundreds of concerts every year, would surely know the simple fact that every show or leg of shows must have a signed contract by the artist before the show is put on sale. But AEG had no signed contract with Michael for fifty shows. These additional shows put increased pressure on an already sick and frail Michael Jackson, whom they knew would never want to disappoint his fans by not performing. (WRHTMJ – pg. 159)
Rowe says that Randy Phillips refused to work with him and practically blackmailed Michael Jackson by threatening to “pull the plug” if he didn’t give in. This is the second time we hear about the threat to “pull the plug” or cancel the shows attributed to Randy Phillips – the first time it was at Murray’s trial when Kenny Ortega read out his email to Phillips. Randy Phillips said that he never heard the expression:
Randy Phillips knew he had to do something about me, when Michael asked me to come and work with him and to watch over his financials and other business affairs. This also included the shows that were scheduled for London. Michael told me that Randy Phillips had said to him that he refused to work with Leonard Rowe, and that he was calling in Frank DiLeo to manage him. If he didn’t accept this, then he was going to pull the plug on everything. He knew he had Michael trapped. From that point on, Michael and I began speaking a lot less often. I received a phone call from Michael a day or so later and he said to me, “I want you to meet and work with Frank DiLeo.”
Rowe makes a very important observation which fully coincides with my opinion of AEG’s contracts with Michael Jackson and Conrad Murray – Randy Phillips had a tendency to make things he wanted them to be without having a signed contract in place. This manner is extremely deceitful as it either creates the impression that the matter is fully agreed on and only some formal papers remain to be finalized (Murray’s case) or conversely, that nothing is yet finalized and there is plenty of time to look into details before making the final contract (Michael Jackson’s case).
As to Frank Dileo I think that he was the candidate who suited both AEG and Michael and therefore Michael must have easily agreed to Frank. He could also do it simply to avoid more pressure from AEG, especially in the face of the threat to “pull the plug” and demand all the advances back:
…Randy Phillips and Frank DiLeo claim that Michael had hired Frank DiLeo to be his manager and he was to replace me. I never heard any of this form Michael. When it came to Michael Jackson it appeared that Randy Phillips had a tendency to make things like he wanted them to be without having a signed agreement or a contract in place. I have asked numerous times where is Frank DiLeo’s management contract signed by Michael. They surely would have one if that was Michael’s wish, but it wasn’t. In my opinion, this was an act forced on Michael by Randy Phillips. Michael told me himself that he would never hire Frank DiLeo again. He could have hired Frank DiLeo before he signed an agreement with me but he didn’t. In my opinion, and the words of Michael, this was a move being forced on him by Randy Phillips in an effort to get rid of me. (WRHTMJ- pgs 144-147)
I was told by Michael Jackson that Randy Phillips had called him for a mysterious meeting. At this meeting, Michael said he was told that AEG refused to work with Leonard Rowe, and that he had to get rid of me. They were calling in Frank DiLeo to manage him and take my place. If Michael did not agree they were going to pull the plug on everything and demand payment of all the advance money that AEG had provided him. They knew that they had Michael Jackson where they wanted him… (WRHTMJ- pg. 183)
No wonder that when Michael was inviting Frank Dileo he laconically worded it as: “It’s a little messed up” which was a gross understatement of course:
By the time DiLeo returned, Jackson’s inner circle had shriveled practically to nothing — no lawyers or accountants, for example — with the July kickoff of “This Is It” just weeks away, DiLeo contended in an exclusive interview.
Only Jackson’s then-manager, the “mysterious Dr. Tohme Tohme,” as the press sometimes described him, remained, DiLeo says. And soon Tohme Tohme’s status turned murky.
“Look, come back, it’s a little messed up,”’ said Jackson, as DiLeo remembers it.
No, it wasn’t just “a little” messed up. It was a terrible mess and judging by the way AEG Live was taking decisions for Michael, ignoring his opinion and controlling his life and business affairs it was it more like keeping him a hostage than having equal cooperation with him.
HOW MANY SHOWS WAS IT?
The short answer is 10 shows. The long answer will involve an explanation.
From Frank Dileo we know that the letter of intent passed by AEG Live for their contract with Michael was read out to him three times. The “readers” were most probably Thome’s lawyer Dennis Hawk, AEG’s lawyers Kathy Jorrie who also drew up Murray’s contract and Joel Katz, or Thome himself. What is important is that there was no lawyer by Michael’s side to represent his interests at the negotiations.
Irrespective of the number of times the AEG contract was read out, hearing it was no good. Imagine this contract as an algebra formula containing lots of unknown X, Y and Z whose definitions should be looked up in a certain Appendix where they are explained in ancient Chinese, and you will probably realize that for the ear this contract was totally incomprehensible.
Difficult puzzles like that should be first spread out on a desk, thoroughly analyzed, compared back and forth, and only after all that you will probably grasp half of what it is.
However with Tohme’s invaluable help on January 26, 2009 AEG Live managed to have those unfinished documents signed. I call them unfinished because the letter of intent addressed to “Dear Dr. Tohme” closed with a hope they would sign a definitive agreement soon and carried two Michael’s signatures which did not match. The documents also contained a promissory note for the advance paid to Michael by AEG. The advance was backed up by the assets of Michael Jackson Company LLC which was run by Tohme Tohme at the time. This way all of it ran a full circle and left no escape for Michael Jackson.
The number of shows the AEG contract contains is the number no one has ever heard of – 18 shows. Strange as it might seem but this number Michael Jackson could have even heard. Why I think so is because Michael wanted two shows a week at the most and if we divide 18 shows by the 9,5 weeks between July 26th and September 30 stated in the contract it would make exactly two shows per week as Michael expected.
So those 18 shows were probably the only final number of shows Michael was counting upon. The papers said that 18 shows could be increased to 31 under certain circumstances but only after obtaining the approval of the Artist’s company, which was absolutely no problem as it was run by Tohme as you understand.
However Michael never talked even of 18 shows and insisted that it was 10 only. The family knew of the arrangement:
Jackson’s family are aghast and say in private that they don’t think he can [do the shows]. His mother Katherine felt comfortable with him taking on ten dates, which was the initial plan. But she and the rest of his family were stunned when he seemed to be pressured by the demand for tickets into adding a further 40 shows.
Is Katherine Jackson right when she says that initially it was ten shows only? Yes, she is.
In fact ten shows is the only correct number as only 10 shows were initially insured by Lloyds.
On March 5th the Wall street Journal said that it had details of Michael Jackson’s deal and that Michael Jackson was not committed to play more than the original 10 shows:
The Wall Street Journal has the details of Jackson’s deal with AEG Live…..[ ] Mr. Jackson would then have the option to add more dates in Europe, Asia and finally North America. But he is not committed to play any shows beyond the original 10, and would in any event not reach the U.S. before 2011.
The confirmation of 10 shows by the insurers is a fundamental and top important fact rarely mentioned in the press though it can still be found in some sources. Randy Phillips himself disclosed several times that the insurance covered only 10 concerts and initially it was for the first 23 days only. Let us divide 23 days by the show/day off pattern established by AEG and Tohme, and you will see that it makes exactly 10 or 11 shows.
No wonder that the doctors chosen by the insurance company said that Michael passed his medical examination with flying colors. They tested his health for four and a half hours and determined that he would perfectly cope with 10 shows (and no more). I never doubted those findings because essentially Michael was a healthy man who could have done even more shows if he had been given enough time to restore his energy and get enough sleep between the shows.
Randy Phillips said that the doctors who examined Michael’s health were independent and this means that they were chosen by the insurers:
Asked about concerns over Jackson’s health in recent years, Phillips said Jackson had passed a four-and-a-half hour physical examination with independent doctors.
According to Tohme the medical examination took place sometime in February and by March 15th AEG Live the insurance for the first 10 dates had been ready. The problems with it appeared only when AEG was blinded by its greed for a million tickets and added 40 more shows:
AEG Struggling To Insure Michael Jackson’s Farewell Concerts
Hilary Lewis|March 15, 2009
Tickets for Michael Jackson’s farewell concerts at London’s O2 arena may have sold out in a record five hours, but it’s taking promoter and venue operator AEG Live much longer to find someone willing to insure all of the King of Pop’s dates.
NY Daily News: AEG has lined up insurance for the first 10 dates, but may be forced to self-insure the rest of the performances at the O2 arena between July and February.
Chief executive Randy Phillips said he isn’t worried.
“The insurance brokers sent doctors and they spend five hours with him, taking blood tests. He’s a vegetarian, he’s in great shape,” he said.
“We would be prepared to self-insure to make up the dates. It’s a risk we’re willing to take to bring the King of Pop to his fans.”
The increase in the number of shows was an unwelcome surprise to the insurers – 50 shows involved a much more demanding regimen, were connected with much higher risks and evidently required a more thorough physical check up.
The reason for their doubts was not so much Michael’s health but the grueling seven-month run of the shows. In fact the situation was even worse than the insurers imagined it – the run was a combination of two enduring marathons with a three months break between them. The insurers realized the difficulty of such a grueling schedule for a 50 year old man and showed a much more responsible approach to this matter than AEG Live, though of course all they were thinking of was money too. In the middle of March the matter was not resolved yet:
MARCH 15, 2009
AEG CAN’T INSURE LONDON CONCERTS…
AEG Live, which organised the star’s programme starting in July, said the company is “still negotiating” with insurers, but insisted it is willing to take on the risk of Jackson falling ill.
Insurance sources told trade magazine Reinsurance that the appetite to cover the risk was low after the schedule was extended from an initial 10 days. They said concerns existed over the 50-year-old’s health and the gruelling seven-month run.
The company is understood to have managed to secure cover for the first 10 dates, worth about £80m, with the additional dates likely to take the policy towards £300m.
So what Michael said about going to bed thinking it was 10 and waking up to 50 was absolutely true. Moreover the same can be applied to the insurers too – they also thought they were insuring for 10 shows but were soon facing 50 instead.
Only Lloyds could not tricked as easily as Michael Jackson was and the insurers agreed to increase the cover to 30 concerts as their final insurance policy showed it (it was agreed in April).
This agreement was most probably obtained on condition that Michael Jackson underwent the second medical examination – in London this time.
Since Randy Phillips always talked of the insurance for the first 10 dates as a finalized matter and never made any reservations about repeated physical examinations for it, we can consider it an undisputable fact that the need for a second medical examination arose only due to AEG’s increase in the number of shows.
This means that if AEG had not imposed on Michael Jackson those 50 concerts, no second examination would have been required, and Conrad Murray would not have spent half the night exchanging emails with the insurers and would have probably not left his patient unattended. And if he hadn’t left him Michael would probably be alive now.
WHO DID MURRAY WORK FOR?
So whose orders was Murray fulfilling – Michael’s or AEG’s? And in whose factual employment was he if he was taking care of AEG’s business when his duty as a doctor demanded looking after his patient?
Michael refused to provide medical records for the past 5 years for the second examination demanded by the insurers and was of the opinion that one physical was quite enough. I can imagine how insulted he was by the insolent way AEG increased those shows in the first place and was all the more insulted by the resulting need to do a second medical examination. After all this was happening solely due to AEG’s insatiable appetite – Michael never wanted those 50 shows, so why should he bend over backwards to fulfill their orders now?
Many of us are wondering whether it was Murray’s obligation to follow AEG’s instructions and spend half the night settling the insurance matters instead of taking care of his patient. Well, you remember that the central point of Murray’s agreement with AEG Live was “performing the Services reasonably requested by the Producer”.
One of those requests came from Kathy Jorrie on June 18, 2009. She sent Conrad Murray his contract with AEG for final revision and in the same message also asked him to assist them in obtaining the medical insurance for AEG Live:
Murray did not refuse them. He was hoping to have his contract with AEG Live finally signed and was surely unwilling to break its terms as he wanted very much to receive the money AEG owed to him since May 1.
The email from Kathy Jorrie thanking Murray for agreeing to assist AEG Live in obtaining the medical records came on June 23d, so they were discussing this matter just on the eve of Michael Jackson’s death.
Murray was arranging those papers either as a favor to AEG Live or as “performing the Services reasonably requested by the Producer”.
And it was during performing those services for AEG Live that his patient stopped breathing and Murray did not even notice it.
Some will say that even if Murray had not been busy with the AEG papers that night he would have talked to his girls instead and this we cannot fully rule out of course, but no speculation should distract us from the hard fact that Murray was taking care of the AEG insurance that night solely because he was fulfilling AEG’s orders.
And it seems that we even know why they were in so much hurry with the insurance.
Only one article reported this very strange fact. This article was dated June 26th 2009 (the next day after Michael’s death) and said that the physical for obtaining the insurance was to take place that very day which was June 26! When reporting this incredible news the paper referred to sources within Lloyds:
26 Jun 2009
By Katherine Blackler
…Sources also told Reinsurance that Robertson Taylor, the specialist music and entertainment arm of Oxygen Insurance Brokers, is the broker for Michael Jackson’s UK concerts that were due to take place in London later this year.
However, it is believed by many today that the claims may not be as high as originally believed as cover had only been secured for the event of ticket refunds, not for profits. According to sources current estimates for claims stand at around £100m.
A Lloyd’s spokesman said: “We can confirm that some insurance for Michael Jackson’s concerts has been placed in the Lloyd’s market, but any losses are not likely to be significant.”
Robertson Taylor was unable to confirm of deny the rumours today due to confidentiality issues.
According to sources within Lloyd’s, Michael Jackson was also ironically due for a physical today in an attempt to secure life insurance cover.
So if we are to believe this article and a source within Lloyds, the physical examination was to take place the very next day Michael died??
How is it possible if they were talking of an examination in London only? I have no answer to it at the moment but the sources within Lloyd’s should know what they are saying, shouldn’t they?
And I see nothing ironic about it either. All these coincidences are becoming really too much.
Does this strange fact add a new shade to our understanding of the situation around Michael prior to his death? I am afraid it does, and very much so, however I’m not ready to elaborate on it further yet. Thinking of various possibilities it might involve is really too depressing, so let’s look at another problem instead.
WHY DID THE 50 SHOWS DISPUTE ERUPT ONLY IN JUNE?
Though the 50 dates were set in the first decade of March the dispute over them reached the press only in June 2009 when Michael disclosed to his fans how unhappy he was with the schedule. It was totally uncharacteristic of Michael to reveal his problems to anyone at all and this makes me think that there were some circumstances that prompted Michael to be so unusually outspoken with his fans.
The media reported the dispute on June 5 -6, 2009, so for full three months since March Michael was keeping silent:
Michael Jackson Is Thrilled With 50-Date Comeback Concerts
June 6th, 2009 8:40am
The promoters behind Michael Jackson’s comeback have slammed reports the pop superstar is angry he has been signed to perform 50 London concerts.
Jackson was reported to have protested the length of his run at the British capital’s O2 Arena this summer while talking to fans outside a rehearsal session.
He reportedly told them, “I don’t know how I’m going to do 50 shows. I’m not a big eater; I need to put some weight on. I only wanted to do 10, and then take the tour around the world to other cities. I went to bed knowing I sold 10 dates, and woke up to the news I was booked to do 50.”
But Randy Phillips, the CEO of producers AEG Live, insists Jackson’s comments were fabricated.
He says, “This is not true; Michael Jackson was thrilled at selling 50 shows. The size and scale of this show would not be possible without an extended run, which Michael has been fully on board with from the very beginning. He has not agreed to a world tour at this point, however, he can at any time.”
Now it looks almost incredible that Randy Phillips reacted to the news of Michael’s dissatisfaction by claiming in full earnest that Michael was “thrilled” to do 50 concerts and that his comments were “fabricated”.
The fact that Michael was resentful of the way AEG forced him into those extra dates leaves no doubt whatsoever, but it is a bit surprising that the dispute erupted only at the beginning of June. The crisis took place three months earlier, so why did it surface only in June?
One of the reasons for that might be the unpleasant discovery Michael made about AEG with which the conversation with the fans started. He found out that through a Viagogo broker AEG was selling the best seats at exorbitant prices and Michael’s most devoted fans had to stay somewhere in the back as they could not afford to pay hundreds and even thousands of pounds for a ticket. The seats affordable to them were for the furthest rows only as they were sold at the face value of £50-75.
Though selling secondary tickets was mentioned in their contract as AEG’s “responsibility” Michael Jackson knew little or nothing about the price of secondary tickets. His ignorance of the matter is clear from the fact that he did not even realize that the area around the stage would be seated and that fans would not be allowed to stand there as was customary for his shows.
Talitha, a devoted fan put down in her blog their discussion with Michael of the tickets problem during their meeting on May 29th. Let me repeat it here again:
“They did the schedule wrong“
The first indication I got that he wasn’t entirely happy with the tour was on 29 May, which was his last day of rehearsal at Center Staging. He spoke with a European fan who told him that we were unable to buy tickets to all the This Is It shows, firstly because everyone was limited to buying only four tickets per credit card and also because all the best tickets had been sold to a secondary ticketing site called Viagogo, which was selling them for hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
Normally the biggest fans are at the front because they arrive first and wait the longest, not because they fork out the most money. But the only tickets we could buy at face value, of £50 to £75, were for seats that were the furthest from the stage. (Note that artists usually get a percentage of the FACE VALUE of tickets sold so Michael might have gotten £20 for a ticket that sold for £1,000!)
After speaking with this fan about the tickets, Michael called the other nine of us into the studio. This is the conversation that took place, as I wrote it down that evening:
MJ: I love you, I love you, I love you. I wanted to tell you that I didn’t know that the concerts were seated. I didn’t know about that and I’m going to do something about it. They did that without my consent. They just did it for obvious reasons.
All of us: To make money, we know. We know it’s not your fault.
Jill: We know how complex this is and how many people are involved.
MJ: They did the schedule wrong too. It was supposed to be show, day off, show, day off, show, day off.
Jill: We are worried we won’t be able to keep up with you.
MJ: (laughs) I put everything I have into the shows. I work so hard. But I’m only one person. There is only so much I can do. (sounding emotional)
Me: Michael, please don’t push yourself too hard. Please look after your health. You are more important than anything. You don’t have to do all 50 shows. If it’s too much, just cancel them. Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing anything you don’t want to do. Only do what you want to do. It’s YOU who we love.
MJ: Oh thank you, you’re so sweet, thank you. Bless you all. I also wanted to say that I’m sorry that we don’t put the window down sometimes but it’s for security reasons. I know you all wait for me and I love you so much.
All of us: Don’t worry, we understand Michael. We love you. We love you more.
MJ: Thank you for your love and thank you for your loyalty.
He clasped his hands together, bowed his head, and stood there in silence for a while. We could feel his energy reaching out towards us, filling the room.
Unfortunately someone betrayed Michael by selling him out to a British tabloid, which reported some of the things he had said to us (and I believe to this other fan) the next day. AEG were quick to issue a statement denying the validity of the story.
The importance of Talitha’s evidence cannot be overestimated. It has several extremely important details which did not attract attention at first sight but have suddenly acquired a new meaning after everything we’ve read and seen.
A new point to what has been discussed here is that Michael says that “It was supposed to be show, day off, show, day off, show, day off” which looks like he thinks that the problem was fixed and the grueling schedule is no longer a threat.
But this is absolutely not the case. We have seen the final schedule and the only changes made there concerned postponement of the first shows until a later time while the pace of the shows essentially remained the same. This makes me think that even at the end of May Michael was still gravely misinformed about the true state of affairs with his schedule.
Another important point is that Michael was so far away from the business side of those concerts (or so misinformed by his partners) that he did not know the elementary fact that the concerts were seated. Kenny Ortega presented it as an advantage – they allegedly did it so that Michael could see the faces of his fans:
“The show was a huge production, but it was also very important that Michael had these moments with just the audience,” says Ortega. “He would say, ‘I want to be looking into the faces of my fans who have waited for weeks and months to be here.‘ So we developed a seating arrangement so that thousands of fans could be close to Michael.” Adds Payne: “One of our goals was to create those times that the fans had Michael all to themselves.”
However Michael said that AEG Live did it without his consent and “he was going to do something about it”. Well, doing something about it means that he intended to discuss the matter with AEG Live, didn’t he? Now we can imagine what that conversation was like – by the bullying way AEG Live is openly behaving towards the Jacksons and their lawyers now we can imagine the way they talked to Michael then, when no one was looking and not a single person would say a word of support for him.
One more thing we learn from Talitha is that the front tickets were sold for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and the usual face value tickets were scarce as all the fans present at that conversation (nine or more people from the US and Europe) could buy tickets only to the furthest rows despite their undoubtedly heroic efforts to get the best seats. And this means that the costly “secondary” tickets made up probably the overwhelming share of the total number of the seats closest to the stage.
All of it makes me think that Michael had a hard conversation with Randy Phillips sometime after June 5th when the news of his talk with fans was published in the press. This might have had some impact on their further relations, later rehearsals and could even be a reason why he missed some of them.
The MJJ Timeline blog tells us that exactly at that time Michael went to Culver City and its studios to shoot the so-called Dome project which consisted of seven works, so this is probably where Michael relaxed a little after a confrontation with Randy Phillips:
June 01-11 :
In Culver Studios in Culver City, Michael shoots The Dome Project which consists seven works: Smooth Criminal (Jackson inserted into classic 2D black-and-white film noir chase sequence); Thriller (3-D movie starting in a haunted house with a ghostly image of Vincent Price, then moving into a graveyard where the dead awaken); Earth Song (3D short film featuring little girl who wanders through rain forest, takes a nap and dreams of the splendor of nature, and awakens to find the natural world has been devastated); They Don’t Care About Us (a/k/a Drill, 2D film in which a sea of soldiers march in unison; 10 male dancers replicated hundreds of times); MJ Air (3-D movie in which a 707 jet pulls into the frame; hole was to open in screen for Michael Jackson to enter; jet flies away); The Final Message (3-D movie of little girl from rain forest embracing the earth); and The Way You Make Me Feel (2D theatrical background featuring male dancers fashioned as historical construction workers.
By the way if all this was indeed happening on June 1-11 how could Michael attend the rehearsals if all this time he was busy with the videos?
There is one more point I noticed in Michael’s words to the fans. Sounding emotional Michael said that he was putting everything into the shows and worked really hard, but he was only one person and “there was only so much he could do”.
What does this remark supposed to mean? To me it conveys Michael Jackson’s utter frustration with the way things were organized and the progress the show was making. He was doing his best, working hard but there was too little he could do alone, as all the rest depended solely on the producers …
Indeed it was May 29 already, only a month before moving the show to London and it was the last day of their stay in Centre Staging near Burbanks as Talitha recorded in her notes.
But even from what we saw in This is it, at the end of May-beginning of June the show was still in the very basic stages of its production.
To be able to compare the various episodes from the documentary with the venues for rehearsals I’ve found their photos and the way they looked inside. It was important to find out which rehearsals were made where and what efforts were put in the production process by both parties.
The first place where the rehearsals started was Central Staging in Burbanks which is a one-storey building reminding you of a big hangar. It is dark, spacious and flat as it has no stage, and the TII episode where Michael says to Michael Beaden that he wants his music to sound exactly the way he wrote it is coming from exactly that place.
Even from that episode we can grasp that at that production stage the musicians were still rehearsing music and no dancers were anywhere to be seen. Michael was rehearsing his dance steps individually with Travis Payne in a separate studio, next to SoundStage One which was a place for general rehearsals (see the floorplan please).
From the LATimes article dated May 12, 2009 we learn that Michael went to those rehearsals four mornings a week and spent 6 hours in the Soundstage studio.
The article mentions dancers too but in a roundabout way – Randy Phillips says that Michael had no difficulty in keeping up with dancers half his age “during the rehearsals”, however there is no specific date when the rehearsals started and when the dancers were selected.
The only specific date we learn is that Kenny Ortega was hired for the job only “this Monday” which should be sometime around May 11-12th.
You will probably share my amazement here that AEG Live hired the director of the show only a month and a half before moving it to London.
I assumed that this should have been done months before the show while a month and a half sounds a little too late, especially considering the grandiose plans they were having.
From other sources we learn that the casting for dancers was done also around the same time (or even later).
This vagueness in reporting is very characteristic of the way AEG was informing the media of their production process. It is even explained in the article below by the rehearsals being “a closely guarded secret”.
The article is long but is provided here in full to show how thorough the authors were in reporting the story:
Michael Jackson rehearses near Burbank airport
Tue May 12, 2009| Harriet Ryan and Chris Lee
Four mornings a week, an SUV with darkened windows bears Michael Jackson through the gates outside a nondescript building near the Burbank airport. He spends the next six hours on a soundstage in the company of 10 dancers and pop music’s best-known choreographer.
The details of rehearsals for Jackson’s upcoming concerts in London are closely held secrets, but what’s at stake for him is not. The ambitious schedule of 50 sold-out shows could turn out to be the final, sad chapter of Jackson’s storied career — or one of pop music’s all-time greatest comeback stories.
When — or if, in the view of many industry skeptics — Jackson takes the stage at the O2 Arena July 8, it will be his first extended concert run in 12 years. Doubters cite his long hiatus from performing, health problems, a onetime prescription pill addiction, age — he is 50 — and his reputation for flaking out on performances and business deals.
But the concert promoter, Los Angeles-based AEG Live, insists that Jackson is prepared mentally and physically and that the show, called “This Is It,” will break new ground in both artistry and sheer cost. The production budget is “north of $20 million,” a price tag that will include as many as 22 different sets, said Randy Phillips, the company’s chief executive.
“It’s going to be the biggest, most technologically advanced arena show — and the most expensive — ever mounted,” Phillips said.
On Monday, the company announced that choreographer and director Kenny Ortega, the force behind the movie “Dirty Dancing” and the “High School Musical” series, as well as Jackson’s Dangerous and HIStory tours, has signed on to direct and design the shows. Ortega agreed to work around his schedule as director of the planned remake of the 1984 movie “Footloose” to take on Jackson’s shows, according to AEG.
In a statement, Ortega called Jackson “the greatest entertainer of our generation” and said he was eager to collaborate with him again. “My answer without a beat was nothing could keep me away,” he said.
In Ortega, Jackson chose someone who has achieved what he could not — continuous cultural relevance after great success in the 1980s. He tapped as the show’s choreographer and associate director Travis Payne, who worked with Jackson in the mid-1990s. Payne’s recent work includes routines for Beyonce and Madonna, as well as a “Dancing With the Stars” tribute to Jackson.
Also involved are younger choreographers who rose to prominence translating Jackson’s style for a new generation. Todd Sams, who has worked with Usher, is collaborating on the show, according to a representative, and Rich & Tone Talauega, a duo who have choreographed Chris Brown’s moves, were present for auditions last month.
The two-day casting call drew 700 dancers to downtown Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre. “They were from the elite agencies across the world — London, France, New York,” said Australian dancer Nandy McClean, who was not chosen. “There were hip-hop dancers and jazz dancers. You could tell a lot of them were crazy Michael Jackson fans who grew up watching him.”
In the end, eight men and two women were selected. Jackson attended the second day of tryouts –– one agency head compared the experience to basketball players auditioning for Michael Jordan.
“Dancing for an artist who is so amazing and who everyone looks up to was the best feeling of my life,” said Atlanta dancer Victor Carter, who did not make the cut. “He perfected the profession.”
Jackson is taking a hands-on role in coming up with routines, according to Ortega and Phillips. The singer is developing a move that he hopes will be as distinctive as the moonwalk, Phillips said. “He’s working on it,” he said, refusing to say more: “I’m sworn to secrecy.”
When the public last got an extended look at Jackson — during his 2005 molestation trial — he appeared in no condition for a grueling concert schedule. He was hospitalized during the proceeding, his clothes hung on his gaunt frame and at times he seemed to have difficulty walking. He later acknowledged an addiction to painkillers.
But AEG’s Phillips said Jackson had “filled out” by last November, when discussions about the London concerts began. He said a four-hour physical with an independent physician this spring found no medical problems. In preparation for the shows, Jackson is doing aerobics with a personal trainer and has had no difficulty keeping up with dancers half his age during rehearsals in Burbank, Phillips said.
Those practice sessions occur in secrecy, thanks to security patrols and confidentiality agreements. There have been rumors, especially in the British media, that the production will include a duet with Jackson’s eldest son, Prince Michael, a stage filled with Jackson look-alikes, and a cast of monkeys and elephants.
Beyond denying the last report — “No animals. No animals!” Phillips said — producers are tight-lipped about what the 20,000 fans in the arena will see. Jackson will perform between 18 and 22 songs. Some choreography will feature aerial dancing similar to routines by Cirque du Soleil, he said.
The singer has said he will sing his hits, telling a March news conference, “I will be performing the songs my fans want to hear.”
The concert preparation has not been spared the lawsuits and threats of suits that seem to be a given in any dealings with Jackson. Last week, he was sued by his former publicist and the actress who co-starred in the 1983 “Thriller” video. On Monday, a New Jersey concert promoter sent a cease and desist letter, alleging the London appearances violated terms of an agreement to play a Jackson Five reunion concert.
Phillips said the claim was “meritless” and had not affected rehearsals.
There are abundant articles saying that on May 12th casting was still in the final stages for the dancers and even the band, and if this is true it means that two months before the show there was still no team!
The article below for example, says that “last week” thousands of dancers arrived for the casting, and this makes it around May 10. The text gravely contrasts to the dates provided byAEG in This is it documentary – over there they claimed that the auditions were made on April 13 or a month earlier.
There is so much make-belief in the whole story that even this picture dated May 12th shows Kenny Ortega as if he is fully engaged in the production process though in fact he was only just hired:
Michael Jackson Gets Ready For Tour
3:29pm UK, Tuesday 12 May 2009
Michael Jackson has been photographed getting ready for his historic 50 concerts this summer.
Last week, thousands of dancers flew in from every corner of the globe including Japan, Australia, South America and Europe to audition for Jackson – all of them were chasing their dream of winning a spot to perform on stage with their idol.
Kenny Ortega, the renowned Director, Producer, Choreographer and creative talent is hard at work collaborating with Michael Jackson in the overall design and direction for the upcoming This Is It concert shows.
Even after the selection process narrowed the competition from thousands of submissions to over five hundred top international dancers, there was still no dance space large enough in Los Angeles or New York to house the auditions.
The producers ended up booking LA’s Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE, part of the site where the Grammy Awards are held each year, to handle the unprecedented numbers of performers who flocked to these auditions.
In receiving the phone call from Michael to lead the team, Ortega said, “My answer without a beat was nothing could keep me away.
“Collaborating with Michael on the Dangerous and HIStory tours were two of the greatest creative experiences of my life, to be invited to partner with him again is a dream come true.”
Ortega goes on to say, “I had just finished a World Press tour for High School Musical and was about to start a new film. In accepting the invitation I had to move a few mountains to clear my schedule, but I’m thrilled to say I’m fully on board.”
Casting is in final stages for dancers and the band.
Casting is in the final stages for dancers and the band? Isn’t it amazing that on May 12 newpapers report that casting is in the final stages for dancers and the band, while This is it presents it as if the same was made a month earlier – on April 13?
There are numerous other sources of the period saying that the director of the show and the dancers were chosen in the first half of May only. At the same time Michael was not only rehearsing but was also fully engaged in an aerobics course with a personal trainer and was even completing it.
May 12, 2009 11:30
Michael Jackson enlists ‘High School Musical’ director for London O2 shows
Michael Jackson has enlisted ‘High School Musical’ director and choreographer Kenny Ortega to collaborate with him on his forthcoming gigs at London’s O2 Arena.
….Phillips claimed that Jackson had undergone a four-hour physical with an independent physician this spring, in which no medical inadequacies were found. The singer is supposedly currently completing an aerobics course with a personal trainer.
Full story: http://www.nme.com/news/michael-jackson/44599
Another piece of news reported at that time said that the initial two days of auditions for the 1000 dancers were followed by three more days of auditions for the remaining 500 dancers and this is why the final day of choosing the dancers was actually May 19th!
The further we look, the later the dates are, and the clearer it becomes that AEG Live is definitely hiding from the public the fact that the auditions were held a month later than they are telling us in that make-belief documentary:
This Is It: Jacko Picks Comeback Gig Dancers
3:43pm UK, Tuesday 19 May 2009
Twelve lucky dancers have been given the opportunity of a lifetime by being chosen to join Michael Jackson on stage for his comeback concerts in London.
The performers were picked from thousands of applicants from all over the world – 500 of which were invited to attend three days of auditions in Los Angeles.
Jackson himself was there to pick the final twelve, alongside show director Kenny Ortega and associate director and choreographer Travis Payne.
Oretega, who also worked on Jackson’s Dangerous and HIStory tours, said it was a tough decision to make.
“The level of dancers that we saw at the auditions was incredible,” he said.
“Michael was extremely hands on throughout the process in working with the dancers and selecting the final candidate.”
The singer begins his 50-date residence at the 02 arena on July 8th.
Concert organisers have rejected recent press reports suggesting Jackson had cancer.
“As usual, Michael Jackson is a magnet for preposterous and unverifiable stories in the media,” Randy Phillips, president of AEG Live, said in a statement.
“He is in great health, working tirelessly on creating the greatest live performance of his career, and does not have skin cancer.”
He also dismissed suggestions the show would include elephants.
Philips has promised an ‘inspiring’ show and ticket holders coming to see the 50-year-old singer return to the stage “will not be disappointed”.
He said: “From the special effects to the quality of the dancers and musicians, we are setting a new standard for major arena shows.”
Michael Jackson will be joined on stage by dancers Charles Kapow, Ricardo Reid, Tyne Stecklein, Misha Hamilton, Mekia Cox, Nicholas Base, Danielle Rueda-Watts and Christopher Grant – all from America.
Timor Steffens from Germany, Australian dancer Shannon Holtzapffel and Canadians Daniel Celbre and Devin Jamieson will also be showing off their dancing talents.
With all this fabrication of facts, false dates and make-belief stories it seems that AEG is indeed setting a new standard for interaction with the public…
Another article, dated May 20, 2009 reports that Michael is still rehearsing 6 hours every day, this time together with the dancers.
A lot of noise is made about the delay in the shows which is already considered full Michael Jackson’s blame though now we know that the director of the show was hired only a week before that and it is no surprise that AEG is now lacking time to complete the production process by the deadline.
What is also interesting is that Frank Dileo who in May 20th was actually an acting manager for Michael Jackson is named here as his “former” manager with no word said about Tohme being fired. Michael could not have worded it himself so it is clear that this misinformation could come only from AEG Live.
As is usual the case the article is full of doubts and sad predictions concerning Michel’s ability to perform which now seem to me the result of some “private” disclosures from the same AEG Live:
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.
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.
He is also working with the same magician who created illusions for Britney Spears’ Circus tour.
The 50-year-old entertainer stands to earn upwards of $50 million if he manages to fulfill the entire sold-out residency.
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.
Now that we know that all this time Michael was working really hard and it was his partners who were dragging their feet, the meaning of Michael’s words is becoming much clearer:
- “I put everything I have into the shows. I work so hard. But I’m only one person. There is only so much I can do”.
But now we also know that AEG was aware of the fact that they started too late and this is why now they are trying to mask it by extremely dirty tricks in an attempt to convince the public that they started just at the right time and their work schedule was splendid. The lies they are resorting to are simply unheard of – the comparison of the actual articles published at the time with the This is it episodes citing totally different dates shows that AEG Live is not even above forging the dates!
The way I see it it was only when AEG realized how serious Michael was taking his training sessions and how thorough he was in getting ready for the shows that they started the production process at all. In fact it looks like they were intentionally dragging their feet waiting for him to “fizzle out”.
For the sake of accuracy I need to note that despite the overwhelming information about the casting for dancers and hiring Ortega done in May only, there are also some reports that Ortega was working for the project already in April. The same refers to the auditions too. There is no explanation I can give to this discrepancy except making a supposition that in April Ortega was involved as a consultant only and that an early start of the auditions was intentional disinformation on the part of AEG Live.
Do we have any reasons to believe that AEG Live is capable of intentional disinformation? Yes, we have and we have already seen proof of it. But this is not all.
In a recent LA Times article I noticed a picture from This is it with a wrong date attached to it and realized that AEG is again trying to make us think that they started early enough to complete the show on time.
To “prove” it they are providing us with a picture shot in the last days of June and pretend that it was made as early as May 2009.
The photo was taken by Kevin Mazur in the Staples Center on June 23 or 24, but is now carrying a comment that was made on May 28, 2009 thus sending us to a month earlier.
The comparison of photos from the respective venues shows that the May date is forged.
May 28th is impossible even in theory.
At the end of May Michael and the musicians were still rehearsing in the dark hangar of Central Staging in Burbank, after which they moved not even to the Staples Center but to the old Forum in Inglewood.
May 29th was the last day of their rehearsals in Burbanks and to confirm that on May 28th Michael was still in Burbanks let me quote Talitha once again though she is not the only one who is mentioning it:
The first indication I got that he wasn’t entirely happy with the tour was on 29 May, which was his last day of rehearsal at Center Staging.
Here is Soundstage One of the Central Staging in Burbanks:
Please compare it with the above photo carrying a fake May 28th date attached to it and tell me whether it looks like one and the same building?
The surface of the stage is different, the lightning is different and actually Central Staging in Burbanks does not even have an elevated stage!
After Burbanks the team moved to the Forum, an old arena of the same configuration as the O2 arena in London where some other episodes of This is it were shot too.
But even the Forum venue looks decidedly different from the stage in the Staples Center where Kevin Mazur’s photo was taken – firstly, the Forum has seats around the stage, and secondly the lightning and other props are totally different from everything we see at the Staples Center.
At the Forum they stayed for almost a month and finally moved to the Staples Center on June 22nd where they had the two final rehearsals. These were shot by two high-definition cameras and when Michael asked Randy Phillips why he was doing it, Phillips said they should archive his historic comeback.
To me it looks like they were already preparing themselves for a movie and in view of Michael’s eventual death (which also accidently fell just on the eve of his second medical examination) the whole thing begins to acquire really sinister touches:
“I said, ‘We’ve got to archive your comeback because this is going to be historical,’ and [Jackson] agreed,” Phillips says. “We never expected it to be a movie. This was really for his personal archives—and also to be B-roll and behind-the-scenes footage that probably would have been a DVD concert film.”
It was in those two last days in the Staples Center that Kevin Mazur’s photo was taken though now AEG Live tries to present it if it was during the early stage of the rehearsals.
But why are they faking the date?
Because they don’t want anyone to know that at the end of May- beginning of June the show was absolutely not ready though it was supposed to move to London only a month later. Even at the end of June, when they were already speaking of “dress” rehearsals the costumes were not ready, the videos were not yet finished, the robot from which Michael was to step out in the opening scene was only a project and some stage acts like that aerial thing were in the early stage of rehearsing too.
What AEG Live does not want the public to know is that they made an inexcusable delay in producing the show and this was either due to their poor organizational skills or hope that Michael Jackson would not live up to his word and cancel the shows without them even having to go into the trouble of arranging the rehearsals.
However when they realized that Michael was really focused and was getting ready in full earnest, they suddenly recollected their duties and drove everyone into a mad race trying to catch up and compensate for the time missed, doing it largely at the expense of Michael Jackson again.
Though the topic of rehearsals is far from finished let me close it for today with the impressions of Kevin Mazur (that very photographer) of seeing Michael performing.
After the dreary earlier places the Staples Center must have inspired Michael very much indeed. It gave him the right feeling he remembered so well from his earlier times.
You will also notice that Kevin Mazur’s recollections are accompanied by the Getti pictures evidently taken on the same day when Kevin Mazur was making his picture (now dated May 28th).
The only difference between them is that Michael is wearing a different cover shirt on top of the same red shirt and a black T-shirt underneath it. This he could have changed during the break, so to me it does look like it is one and the same day in the Staples Center.
The other difference from Mazur’s photo is that the Getti images say that they were taken during Michael’s last performance and not a month earlier as AEG Live and the LATimes now assert it.
Here are some excerpts from Kevin Mazur’s story:
Michael Jackson’s last interview: The tragic singer’s final moments
By Tom Bryant
… Michael Jackson whooped with joy as he rehearsed on stage for his comeback tour.
Thrusting his arm in the air after one of his trademark twirls, he cried: “I feel so alive – can you feel it?”
The superstar, who died of a heart attack just hours later, told photographer pal Kevin Mazur: “This is where I belong. Why oh why have I left it so long?”
Pointing to the lighting gantries high above the stage at LA’s StapleCenter he grinned broadly as he triumphantly declared: “This is where I belong.”
And he was still buzzing as he took a break from rehearsals and chatted to his old pal, photographer Kevin Mazur, 48 – who unwittingly captured some of the tragic singer’s final moments.
Kevin, a friend for 20 years, says Jackson, 50, was elated as he prepared for his spectacular This Is It tour.
He says the singer bounded on stage in a dark grey suit and headpiece, shouting: “Come on – let’s make this happen!”
He then performed one of his familiar spins, before proclaiming: “This is where I belong.” Turning to his friend, he beamed: “Can you feel it Kevin? Why oh why have I left it so long?”
After a stunning rendition of Smooth Criminal in which he danced in front of an illuminated 50ft montage, Jacko admitted: “I am so excited.
“We need a bit more work on a few more songs but we’re so nearly there. This is what it’s all about. Me being on stage.”
The pumped up star added: “The only thing missing is my fans, my people, my family – and they will come.
“I know they will. I am so happy with how things are going. Can you feel it! Can you feel it!”
Kevin watched spellbound as Jacko performed his entire set for an hour and a half until nearly midnight. He sang 12 songs, stopping only briefly to wipe his brow with a white towel strategically placed at the side of the stage.
At one point, Jacko blew a kiss into the auditorium, announcing: “This is me. The true me. I feel so alive. I feel as though I want to perform forever.”
Kevin said: “He was like an expectant father pacing up and down the stage. He was just so focused.
“Between songs, he burst into laughter and joked around with his dancers and the director. I have never seen him so happy.
“But there was a cool professionalism about him. He was there to do a job and boy, did he do it well. It was incredible.”
Kevin said highlights of the frenetic set included a Jackson Five medley, Black or White and Thriller.
Once he was finished, Jacko calmly went back over the list – and started re-doing the songs he felt needed improving.
…“He had this incredible energy. He was happy, laughing and having fun with the dancers. He looked like the same old Michael to me – the one I’ve known through the years and grown to love.”
…Kevin says the overriding feeling from the rehearsals was Michael’s sense of duty to his fans. He said: “He was such a perfectionist. He had that spark about him – that desire to create something special and give people the very best he could.
You won’t believe it but the most smashing proof that the media and AEG are fabricating the evidence in favor of AEG has arrived from the LA Times newspaper itself.
On April 16th I left a comment there saying that the date of their picture was wrong and when I looked up the same article today I’ve found that they replaced the first photo with a different one.
The second (current) photo is carrying a fake date again as it refers to the same May 28, 2009 , only this time the LA Times made a grave mistake of attaching the fake date to a photo which 3 years ago was labeled by Getti images as “Michael Jackson’s last performance”.
Indeed these attempts to forge pictures in full view of everyone are simply incredible. The latest fake masterpiece from the LA Times is here: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-ln-la-jackson-aeg-20130410,0,5459012.story
And here is the same picture from Getty images taken 3 years ago.
Getty describes it as Michael Jackson’s LAST performance and the picture is coming in the article devoted to Michael’s FINAL moments in the Staples Center:
And then I found the same picture in the USA Today article of June 30, 2009 describing Michael Jackson’s rehearsal at the Staples Center on June 23d.
The picture was referred to the same Kevin Mazur!
The mistake by one day I can understand but the mistake by a MONTH I cannot!