The fate of Michael Jackson‘s upcoming residency at the O2 Arena in London, England, currently hangs in the balance. A New Jersey-based concert promoter claims to have a contract, complete with a non-competition clause, that could prevent Jackson from performing unless a resolution is reached. If the show goes on, it could go on a few days later than previously expected.
Currently, the 50-show run at the O2 is scheduled to begin July 8. However, according to Roger Friedman’s Showbiz 411 blog, there may be some production delays in building the stage that will push opening night back to July 13 or 14.
Production costs for the 50-show run have been estimated at more than $20 million, according to published reports. In an interview with Billboard, Randy Phillips, CEO of AEG Live, described the production as “the most cutting edge ever employed on a tour. We’re using technology that’s never been used before in live entertainment.”
He also noted an extended run-time: “Originally we tried to keep the show down to 90 minutes, but Michael has so many must-do songs in his repertoire that the shows now will be two-plus hours.”
Friedman, who was canned by FOXNews.com last month for writing about a pirated film on the Internet, angering the film studio, is regarded by some as the most accurate entertainment gossip sage in the media. He has been following the Jackson O2 saga for more than a year and was the first to report on its possibility and then probability.
If the opening is pushed back due to incomplete sets or other production delays, there is ample room in the Gloved One’s itinerary to make up shows, if needed. The London concerts are expected to end on February 24, 2010.
If there is a production delay, it would be understandable in the touring music industry. Major tours, like U2 and Madonna for example, have many more months of pre-production than the Jackson tour, which was officially announced in early March.
Jackson last performed live on September 10, 2001.
Story updated on May 13 at 12:35 p.m.