LONDON (Reuters) - The promoter of Michael Jackson’s planned run of 50 concerts in London wants his family to stage an all-star show in his memory and said on Tuesday he had discussed the idea with them.
Randy Phillips, chief executive of AEG Live, also said Jackson appeared to be fit and ready to perform the day before he died last Thursday, aged 50, after suffering cardiac arrest.
“At some point the world needs to see this production, and I would imagine if we could do it, it would be done as a tribute with the family ... but also other stars who loved Michael and were influenced by him,” Phillips told Sky News.
“But the world needs to see this production, and it’s done,” he said, referring to the spectacular that Jackson and AEG Live created for the run of shows at London’s O2 Arena which had been scheduled to open on July 13.
“We’re discussing that with the family and obviously the sooner the better.”
Countering suggestions that Jackson was in poor health and should not have been pushed to rehearse for a series of physically demanding concerts, Phillips said he had spoken to the star the day before he died.
“He gave me a hug and whispered into my ear: ‘Now I know I can do this’, he was that engaged.”
Photographer Kevin Mazur told Reuters earlier that Jackson had been “full of energy” at rehearsals in Los Angeles.
“A picture tells a story,” he said, referring to images he took in Los Angeles on Tuesday, June 23, two days before Jackson’s death. They were released to the media this week.
“He was just the same old Michael and when he hit the stage he was full of energy, happy, very upbeat, having fun.”
Phillips said AEG Live was considering releasing footage of Jackson rehearsing in order to prove this point.
Insurance experts have said AEG Live, which has offered full refunds to the 750,000 people who snapped up tickets to the Jackson shows, faced sizeable financial losses. Phillips conceded that hiring Jackson had been a risk.
”When you’re in business like we are, you take risks all the time and in the case of Michael Jackson ... we thought it was an acceptable risk.
“We had (insurance) coverage and stuff like that. We probably will be fine financially from this but, right now, we’re trying to do the best thing for the estate.”
Phillips described what he saw at the Los Angeles hospital where Jackson was taken after falling ill.
”They brought him in on a stretcher and they put him into the emergency room,“ he said. ”I was sitting in a chair right outside the ...operating room, and there was tons of activity, and they were trying to resuscitate him and save him and working really hard.
“I sat there ... it seemed, honestly, like an eternity. But it took about an hour, an hour and a half before the nurse came out and told (Jackson manager) Frank (DiLeo) and I that there was no hope.”
He said Jackson’s doctor Carlton Murray was one of the people who told the singer’s children that he had died.
“I stood at the doorway when they went in and they told them and just the look of fear in their faces... it was hard. I’ll think about that the rest of my life. But they seem to be doing really well.”
He added that he had tried to dissuade Jackson from hiring Murray as his personal doctor, because of the costs involved.
“Michael told me ... ‘you don’t understand. My body is the machine that fuels this business and I need personal care and I want a doctor 24/7 like President Obama would have and this is my doctor’.”
Additional reporting by Avril Ormsby; editing by Robert Woodward