AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips, whose company was staging Michael Jackson's landmark This Is It! 50-show run at London's O2 Arena, spoke to the U.K.'s Sky News about Jackson's health at rehearsals, the proposed Jackson tribute concert, the company's relationship with physician Dr. Conrad Murray and possible funeral arrangements.
"This show was beyond anything; technology, the size of the show. It's Michael Jackson, it's bigger than anything else could ever have been. And beautiful, and amazing, and he was amazing in it," Phillips said of This Is It!. As Rolling Stone reported yesterday, This Is It! might be transformed into a Jackson tribute concert. "I imagine if we could do it, it would be done as a tribute, with the family — with the brothers performing and some of the sisters — but also the stars who loved Michael and were influenced by him," Phillips said. "But the world needs to see this production, and it's done, we have it in a vaultâ€¦ it would have been one of the most amazing arena shows ever." AEG and Jackson stood to earn $70 million from the O2 concerts; Billboard estimates that the promoter has already laid out $30 million in production costs for the now-defunct run.
As for reports that Jackson was too frail for perform and appeared "listless" during his final rehearsals, Phillips said, "Lou Ferrigno, the Incredible Hulk, was Jackson's personal trainer and he refutes all that. We have, and we may at some point release, some footage of him in rehearsal that would totally refute that." In fact, Phillips said he was only giving statements now because of all the misinformation circulating since Jackson's death, including erroneous reports that Jackson was suffering from stage fright and was too weak to perform.
As Rolling Stone reported last week, Dr. Conrad Murray was hired by AEG Live to accompany Jackson to London, even though the company claims they wanted Jackson to have a London physician. "We would've preferred to have someone on call in London than bringing someone from over here, but Michael insisted on bringing Dr. Murray because he told us he was his personal physician," Phillips said. "[Jackson] said '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.'"
AEG Live has also offered to help with Jackson's funeral, Phillips told Sky News, even though final arrangements had not been determined.
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