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With the film deal in place, AEG then saw its hopes for a pair of tribute concerts, to take place on Aug. 29 (Michael’s 51st birthday) and Aug. 30, go up in smoke, as most major stars refused to commit to the bash featuring the Jackson 4.
I.B. BAD SAYS “THIS IS IT”...SO FAR
Dr. Conrad Murray and AEG Live’s Randy Phillips Find Themselves in the Spotlight as the Facts Keep Flooding Out
With an estimated $30m shelled out for the production of Michael Jackson’s ill-fated “This Is It” shows in London, promoter AEG is under the gun to make up those monies any way it can. After the company revealed it had some 100 hours of rehearsal footage—a remark Hollywood columnist Nikki Finke dubbed “ghoulish”—a bidding war eventually developed, with Sony PicturesAmy Pascal winning out over the likes of Fox, Universal and Paramount, with the final price tag of $60m being split 90/10 between the Jackson estate and AEG. The CD to the theatrical feature, due to open wide Oct. 30, has landed with Columbia/Epic Record Group, whose Rob Stringer also helped close the deal for Sony Pictures. Jackson’s death has turned out to be a boon for Sony Music, whose weekly marketshare rose close to 40%, and Epic, which climbed past 12%. In all, Sony has sold 18m+ albums worldwide and counting… With the film deal in place, AEG then saw its hopes for a pair of tribute concerts, to take place on Aug. 29 (Michael’s 51st birthday) and Aug. 30, go up in smoke, as most major stars refused to commit to the bash featuring the Jackson 4: Jermaine, Marlon, Jackie and Tito. AEG had hoped to use much of the original production for the shows, with the media touting appearances by the likes of Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder and Usher, none of whom could be snagged. Any shot at selling the show as a worldwide pay-per-view also flamed out, with yet another tribute concert nixed by NBC as a $10m opener for the new Jay Leno prime-time show this fall… In a last desperate move, AEG has also filed legal papers to be part of the Jackson probate hearing on Aug. 3, according to TMZ.com. The papers would entitle AEG to receive all legal documents, including notices of court hearings, connected to the probate. It’s unclear if AEG is preparing a claim against the estate, but the company has to get that $30 million back somehow… The Jackson family continued to make its presence felt, as Michael’s body reportedly remained unburied pending resolution, with mom Katherine filing court papers challenging John Branca and John McClain as executors of the estate. Jackson watcher Roger Friedman called the move “a chance for her to get a foot in the door or a seat at the table,” suggesting it was actually the work of Joe Jackson and Leonard Rowe, “using Katherine as a stalking horse to gain some say in how Michael’s money is spent.”… Joe’s appearance on The Larry King Show marked a new low for both men, with observers charitably calling it “a train wreck.”… Industry critics have long described AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips as “a B-list player,” citing his star-crossed history, which included allegations in the N.Y. press he’d scalped tickets for shows by client Rod Stewart. As second banana to Arnold Stiefel, Phillips was hired and fired as Michael’s manager within a matter of days in 1990, and subsequently tapped by Al Teller for a high-ranking slot at MCA Records, but was then blocked by corporate from taking the post. He later teamed with Teller to launch the Red Ant label, an unmitigated disaster whose name became a metaphor for the color of the ink on its financial statements. Indeed, Phillips’ career was clearly in decline when he was brought in to run AEG Live by Tim Leiweke. The company’s performance is said to be disastrous, as various partnerships and mergers failed to materialize due to a 2008 balance sheet sporting losses reputed to be as high as $50m. Now, with Jacksongate on his resume, Phillips has been told by his boss that it’s his mess to clean up, say sources. The cancellation of the O2 shows and the potential pay-per-view cash-out have silenced Phillips’ boasts about the $60m he claimed AEG would be raking in. Quipped one naysayer: “The King of Cheese meets the King of Pop, and what do you get? A really bad taste and unpleasant smell.”... Will deep-pocketed AEG be named in the wrongful death civil litigation that will probably be filed by the family against Dr. Conrad Murray, in that the company was paying him $150k a month? Many believe that the AEG brass in Denver will willingly sacrifice the high profile, publicity-hungry Phillips in an attempt to settle that litigation. Phillips' present vulnerability is leading many of those he has thrown under the bus to adopt a pilling-on mentality, as the karma train could once again be pulling into the station… Names in the Rumor Mill: Bruce Glatman, Joel Katz, Marcel Avram, Prince, Andy Hewitt, Irving Azoff and Jay Marciano.
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