Obviously there's a lot to sort out about the death of Michael Jackson, though one of the first questions will center on his preparations for what would have been a 50-concert series at London's O2 Arena - to have been produced by concert promoter L.A.-based AEG Live (a unit of Philip Anschutz's AEG Worldwide). The first show was scheduled for July 7, but late last month it got pushed back to July 13. Also, three of the shows had been canceled. From The Wrap:
At the time, a longtime family adviser told TheWrap that the singer was "physically, emotionally and professionally unable to perform" for the 50-night engagement -- and that Jackson who reportedly had been rehearsing at an undisclosed location near Los Angeles International Airport, had actually shown up only twice at the rehearsals. When he did show up, the family insider said, Jackson appeared to be "lethargic." Indeed, recent photos of Jackson shopping in Bel-Air (left) showed the King of Pop's painfully thin frame swam inside a black silk morning coat. Jackson, his chin and cheekbones jutting out, looked nothing like a pop star about to embark on a strenuous tour.
Here's a May LAT story that also raised questions about Jackson's ability to handle the concert grind:
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.
I came across a May 3 story in the London Evening Standard that says Jackson underwent medical checkups before the concert deal was cut. The story also notes that AEG had obtained insurance coverage in the event the singer was unable to perform (unclear is whether some of the coverage was through self-insurance by AEG). Those kinds of measures would not be unusual for such a high-stakes concert tour, especially considering Jackson's background.
This one is from the trade publication Reinsurance:
Promoters of Michael Jackson's sell-out set of concerts in London could lose hundreds of millions if the star is forced to cancel his shows, Reinsurance has learned. Insurance sources told Reinsurance that the appetite to cover the risk was low after the tour was extended, because of worries over Jackson's health. Although the company said that it has managed to secure cover for the first ten concerts- reportedly worth about £80m, the rest of the dates- which will reportedly bring the cover to over £300m, has not gained the same sort of traction in the market.