Updated July 2:
AEG Live, the concert promoter for Michael Jackson’s aborted concert tour, acknowledged on Thursday that they had "in excess of 100" hours of footage of the performers rehearsals and life behind the scenes, including from the final rehearsal on Wednesday night, the evening before the singer died.
A spokesman for AEG Live said that the company was still considering what to do with this vast store of valuable footage, but acknowledged that a movie was one thing under consideration.
Michael Jackson’s last rehearsal at the Staples Center on Wednesday, the eve of his death, was recorded in multi-camera, high-definition video and multi-track audio, and could be released as the performer’s last album, according to several people close to the now-defunct concert tour.
The recordings were made as part of concert promotion company AEG Live’s deal with Jackson, which included a plan to produce both an album and DVD of what Jackson had billed his “final performance” tour, titled “This Is It.”
The entertainer died of heart failure on Thursday.
Randy Phillips, president and CEO of AEG Live, the nation’s second largest concert promoter, emailed that he would not comment for the story.
The recordings also could be used to produce both a DVD or Blu-ray disc of the entertainer’s last performance — the entertainer singing his greatest hits.
One AEG official boasted to a colleague this weekend, “We have a live album in the can.”
And what an album it would be. Amazon, record stores and retailers like Barnes and Noble sold of all Michael Jackson stock almost immediately — and in a matter of minutes following the news of Jackson’s death, in the case of Amazon.
Press reports have said that AEG Live stands to lose tens of millions of dollars from the unexpected cancellation of Jackson’s 50-date London tour.
But any audio and video release of the final concert would undoubtedly sell millions — if not tens of milllions — of units worldwide and would be the music industry’s equivalent of a license to print money.
Jackson had failed to appear at many of the scheduled rehearsals in Los Angeles over the past two months. But he did show up at a full rehearsal at the Staples Center of his scheduled July 13 London concert on the night before his death.
The rehearsal, which went on for several hours, included dancers, musicians and aerial performers. Three people close to the production said it had been captured by multiple cameras, and the audio digitally recorded in a manner that could be used to produce a surround-sound DVD and audio products.
The show — which was to kick off of a 50-concert series at London’s 02 arena — was planned as a spectacular performance. At one point, Jackson was suspended on a crane; at another, there was a 3D view of “Thriller”-style haunted mansion, that required the audience to put on special glasses.
Some of those there present at the rehearsal were concerned about the performer.
Patrick Woodroffe, lighting designer, watched the final rehearsal. He told the BBC4 that the singer seemed frail.
“We had rehearsed for the last couple weeks. We put together a complicated show, quite a spectacular show. Of course a huge part of it was him, and I would say for the last week he hadn’t really been with us. He would appear, and he would rehearse sometimes, and he would not rehearse.
He added: “I guess that we were nervous whether we would be able to carry off this show at the 02.”
Woodroffe also said that Jackson was “electric” at the rehearsal. “It was quite an emotional moment when we realized that, well, he had it. And of course we all had a view as to whether he would be able to survive these 50 shows.”
TheWrap reported in April that many Jackson camp insiders were worried that the entertainer was not strong enough to withstand a rigorous performance schedule.
Others said that the singer seemed joyous and in his element.
AEG’s Phillips told Bloomberg News, "I take great solace in the pride and confidence he exhibited in the rehearsals on Wednesday night. This is the memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
"He was dancing, training, working every day with our choreographer Travis [Payne]," Kenny Ortega, the show’s choreographer, told the
Los Angeles Times.
"Michael has always been slight. That was his fighting weight. He was getting rest time, coming in and working with the band, guiding the singers, working on orchestrations. He was enthusiastically involved in every creative aspect of this production."
London was to be just the start of a multi-city world tour.