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Many believe the stress of having to do 50 shows was too much for Jackson to take. These same people want to know how a 5'10" adult male reportedly weighing 110-115 pounds could possibly have passed the insurance physical.
I.B. BAD ON JACKSONGATE
AEG Live Finds Itself in the Center of What Is Shaping Up as a Major Story Involving the Jackson Siblings, Dad and Randy Phillips
AEG Live is hoping to take advantage of surging Michaelmania to recoup its $30m investment in what would have been Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” shows at the company’s O2 Arena. AEG insiders claim the company plans to stage a series of memorial concerts at the same venue, and that the remaining Jacksons and sister Janet have signed on to participate. The series, which has now been dubbed “This Is Not Exactly It” by AEG staffers, is set to begin Aug. 29, which would have been Jackson’s 51st birthday.

But the concert power finds itself in the center of what may well intensify into a headline-grabbing controversy, as people who were close to Jackson both personally and professionally are questioning the role the company may have inadvertently played in the artist’s untimely demise.

Many believe the stress of having to do 50 shows was too much for Jackson to take. These same people want to know how a 5'10" adult male reportedly weighing 110-115 pounds could possibly have passed the insurance physical. They also note that only those with a financial stake in the run of shows have claimed Jackson was fit enough to get through them.

Being specifically targeted is AEG Live CEO and spokesperson Randy Phillips, who is operating under the cloud of a long-standing credibility problem. Consequently, his recent characterizations of Jackson as “my friend” and “my buddy” inspired plenty of eye rolling, as did his claim that 25% of the nearly 1m ticket holders for the late artist’s 50-show run had chosen to keep their tickets as souvenirs. Inside sources in the U.K. say the non-refund rate is actually as low as 10%.

Insiders say Phillips had led AEG to believe the company had the rights to use Jackson’s image and songs in a prospective documentary culled from rehearsal footage, and had been dismissive of Sony Music regarding the concerts until real izing he needed Sony to complete production of the shows. Since Jackson’s death, he’s learned that AEG doesn’t have the rights and is negotiating with Sony Music to get them in time to release a DVD prior to Christmas—because what good is a Jackson documentary that contains none of his hits? Will John McClain, co-executor of the estate, play a key role in the creative process on AEG’s behalf?

Joe Jackson is saying his son wasn’t physically capable of getting through 50 shows, but was strong-armed by AEG into making the commitment. Phillips countered the elder Jackson’s claims, saying that Michael himself was responsible for the show’s extension. The dust-up caused some to quip that Phillips was fortunate the accusation had come from someone less credible than himself. Some are wondering why AEG hasn’t tried to cut a deal with Joe Jackson, who appears to be looking for a big payday.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, co-executor John Branca and fellow attorney Joel Katz, both of whom have long histories with the late artist, are trying to achieve a positive result for the Jackson estate, and see the AEG plan as a significant potential win for Michael’s heirs.

Additionally, industryites are interested in finding out whether Frank DiLeo, Jackson’s manager during the Thriller/Bad era, who had resumed that job during the artist’s final days, will have an ongoing role in all of this activity.

Against this turbulent backdrop, Phillips’ boss, Tim Leiweke, has yet to be heard from on the matter.

As the situation continues to heat up, wonderers are wondering how it will ultimately play out. Specifically, will Janet and the brothers actually do the shows in order to revive their careers? Will AEG get to Joe? And, finally, will Phillips survive the controversy?

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