MJ Fallout Just Beginning

While the global hysteria over the sudden June 25 death of Michael Jackson appears to have faded to a mere media frenzy, business continues to go on at AEG, even if not as usual.

While the rest of the world frets over whether MJ was murdered, would be buried without his brain or Los Angeles taxpayers would foot the bill for security around his July 7 memorial service at the Staples Center, Randy Phillips and company appear to be moving on.

The issue of the police tab for the memorial service appears to be settled, with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa returning from an African vacation to announce that public safety is in fact a city service and Los Angeles would pay the $1.4 million incurred in security and other costs.

And that’s $1.4 million that AEG will not be on the hook for, as the company was being pressured to pony up before Villaraigosa ended the debate.

How much – or how little – Jackson’s death will cost AEG still depends in some measure upon the results of MJ’s toxicology report, which was not expected to be released by L.A. County officials for at least another week at press time.

Phillips and Jackson concert director Kenny Ortega are reportedly mulling over the possibility of staging a tribute concert to the King of Pop at London’s O2 – the arena where he would have started his 50-show residency July 13. One idea being floated was a staging of the concert sans MJ on what would have been his 51st birthday Aug. 29.

However, no announcement of such a concert was forthcoming at press time, leaving less than a six-week window in which to organize what would surely be another global media affair.

AEG has already begun the process of recouping some lost income from the 50 concerts canceled in the wake of Jackson’s death. “This Is It” show merchandise has gone on sale, including such typical swag as MJ T-shirts, hats and coffee mugs and not-so-typical items like belt buckles, playing cards and a curious choice of wine glasses and corkscrews.

In the meantime, details have emerged about the contract between Jackson and AEG Live for the 50 shows and how the promoter may recoup some if not all of its reported $30 million already sunk into the tour.

A lot of characters have come out of the woodwork claiming to speak for Jackson or his family – in some cases including the family. Father Joe and sisters LaToya and Janet have all been quoted making specious statements about Michael’s death and last wishes.

Joe Jackson has said that Michael only signed on to do 10 shows.

“Our original agreement with Michael Jackson called for 31 shows,” Phillips said in a statement. “It was our option as the promoter to only announce the first 10 concerts knowing that based on the response to the pre-sale, we could and would add the additional 21 shows to the initial on-sale. The pre-sale response was so overwhelming that we went back to Michael’s representative at the time, Dr. Tohme Tohme to inquire whether Michael would be willing to increase the number of shows.”

Through Tohme, Jackson was willing to up the agreement to 50 shows, Phillips said.

“We did receive feedback from Dr. Tohme and Michael himself that it was important that we spaced the additional shows out over an extended period of time and that we would rent an estate for him and his family so that they would not be ‘trapped’ in a hotel suite while they were in London,” Phillips said. “He told us he was also motivated by the opportunity to establish a record to be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for the run he was about to embark on.”

An AEG spokesman told Pollstar there was a waiting list of 200,000 people hoping to score a seat at the time of Jackson’s death.