Sometime Next Year In London

Details are somewhat scarce about when and where the postponed Michael Jackson tribute show will happen, but it should be sometime next year and in London, Pollstar is told.

Nina Ellend, spokeswoman for show promoter World Tribute Productions GmbH, also revealed the switch from Vienna was largely because the artists who agreed to perform were unhappy with the way the event was being reported.

“They were referred to as B-list artists, which is not the right way to describe people that have won Grammy Awards,” she said.

She added that the move to London in 2010 was not because the Jacko tribute couldn’t attract top talent, but more because talent kept pulling out as international news services picked up on the unfavorable Austrian media reports.

Photo: AP Photo
At the second press conference in Vienna.

She said the negative stories began immediately after a Vienna press conference Sept. 8 and continued throughout the following two days as World Tribute ran similar conferences in Berlin and London.

By the time the conferences were over, the bill had been decimated. Then the organisers hastily arranged a second Vienna press conference Sept. 11 to announce the switch to the U.K.

“The coverage was more of a political nature as leading Austrian national papers put such pressure on Vienna deputy mayor Renate Brauner that she withdrew a pledge to support the event to the tune of $870,000,” Ellend explained.

“The papers were saying the deputy mayor shouldn’t be spending so much public money on acts they described as being second rate. If they can’t have Madonna, it seems they’re not interested.”

Among the other performers said to be confirmed were Sister Sledge, Akon and German boy band US5.

Ellend said the decision to switch to London was made Sept. 10, and the press conference to announce it was arranged for the following morning.

“We had enjoyed a better press reaction in London, where Jermaine [Jackson] was applauded by the journalists,” she said, hoping the U.K. media might be kinder about her company’s efforts.

“Wembley Stadium is our first choice of venue, but we are also talking to others,” she told Pollstar, suggesting that the show could once again go on sale before the venue, date and the lineup are confirmed.

At the second Vienna press conference, World Tribute chief Georg Kindel and Jermaine Jackson told reporters that too many top performers had scheduling conflicts, but they also mentioned that the media had stirred up a negative atmosphere.

“The purpose for this show is to give something back to the fans … we have to do this right,” Jackson said at the second Vienna press conference. “It’s not about name-dropping.”

Ellend said Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown and Natalie Cole are all expected to be on the London bill.

She also said the 32,500 fans who bought tickets for the Sept. 26 show at Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace, some of them paying as much as $745 for VIP seats, would all be refunded.

She said she’s less certain about refunding people for any flights and hotels they may have paid for, claiming that those costs aren’t really World Tribute’s responsibility.