If you want to hold on to your ticket to one of Michael Jackson’s 50 sold-out shows at London’s 02 Arena-the run was supposed to start tonight-forget about getting a refund.
AEG chairman/CEO Randy Phillips defends the decision to not refund tickets unless fans turn in the ticket, as well as the selling of the “This Is It” tour merchandise to Billboard, simply saying, “”One thing I’ve learned in taking this job is you can’t please everybody,” Phillips says. “There will always be critics and skeptics and all that, but we did the right thing for my buddy. We buried him with dignity.”
And to a large extent, we agree with the “dignity” part. The July 7 memorial service was to a large degree very tastefully done. Phillips notes that AEG decided not to sell merchandise at the Staples Center funeral, but I’m not sure if AEG deserves credit for doing the right thing there. They have to know that had they tried to shill MJ merchandise at his funeral, the storm that would have followed would have haunted them every time they tried to capitalize on Jackson’s name at all.
Plus, they clearly have bigger fish to fry. Phillips tells Billboard that a decision is still being made on whether to release the memorial on DVD, although I will be stunned if they don’t.
First off, 31 million people in the U.S. alone watched it, so there is clearly a demand for it-even if only a small portion of folks who watched the service here and abroad purchase the DVD. Secondly, any such action has to be done in partnership with Jackson’s estate. All AEG has to do is frame it that the money raised from the sale goes to Jackson’s three children and no one is going to object. Plus, last time we heard any credible report on Jackson’s finances, he was more than $500 million in debt.
“There may be [some sort of release], but we really haven’t thought about that,” Phillips says. “We’d have to go back to the speakers and the artists and get their permission.”
Plus, Phillips continues, “we wouldn’t do anything without the estate…Michael was our partner in life, he’s our partner in death through his estate.”
And it sounds like there’s lots of business to be done. Concert ticketholders have until Aug. 14 to request their refunds.
In the meantime, there are also discussions about a tribute show to Jackson taking place that would run through the Jackson concert as planned, just without Jackson. The dancers, musicians and singers are “kind of …on hold,” says Phillips, which speculation running that a show will occur on Jackson’s Aug. 29 birthday.
It’s looking more and more like AEG will not only recoup the $25 million it had invested in the shows, plus possibly make a windfall on ancillary merchandise and other offerings.
On a separate, yet related note, www.ctv.ca is reporting that hundreds of Jackson fans showed up outside O2 arena today to honor Jackson in what would have been the first concert.