Organizers cancel Jackson Vienna tribute concert
By Petra Spescha
VIENNA (Reuters) - A scheduled Michael Jackson tribute concert in Vienna has been canceled and the event will be staged in Britain next year, Organizers said Friday.
Michael's brother Jermaine Jackson had struggled to get R&B stars Mary J. Blige and Chris Brown and veteran singer Natalie Cole to confirm they could attend, fuelling speculation the gig would be canceled for lack of interest.
"Due to the short time frame it was not possible for many of them to change their schedule so that they could be on stage in Vienna on September 26, therefore we decided, after careful consideration, to change the date of the tribute concert to the summer 2010," he said in the statement issued in London.
World Awards Media, who are promoting the event, said in a joint statement with Jermaine Jackson that the exact venue in Britain and the date would be announced shortly.
Jermaine Jackson said many artists had wanted to join the tribute to his brother and that Britain was a fitting venue as Michael had been planning a series of concerts there.
Organizer Georg Kindel had blamed negative treatment by the Austrian media for the cancellation and told reporters that the tribute would be held at Wembley Stadium in London in June 2010, to mark the first anniversary of Jackson's death.
"The artists were disrespectfully treated as B-list artists by the media," Kindel said, adding that tickets for the Vienna concert will be refunded.
BIG NAMES MISSING
U.S. representatives for Blige, Brown and Cole said on Thursday that none of the three would perform in Vienna, contrary to statements by the concert Organizers.
This left only lesser-known performers such as Sister Sledge, best known for a 30-year-old dance track, "We Are Family."
Vienna city council said earlier Friday it would not support the concert after realizing the show would not bring in as much advertising revenues as initially expected.
Organizers had hoped the city would provide up to 600,000 euros ($876,200) in funding for the event at the capital's 17th century Schoenbrunn palace.
"A cancellation is better than something that is bad and that doesn't interest anyone," said Robert Nuernberger, spokesman for the Vienna tourist board.
Organizers had expected artists to reinterpret Jackson's greatest hits including Billie Jean, Thriller and Bad, in front of an audience of 65,000.
Jackson, one of the world's most successful pop artists, died on June 25 with a mix of prescription medications in his body.
Tickets for the London concert will start at 44 pounds ($73) and sales will begin by December 1.
(Additional reporting by Keith Weir in London and Alexandra Zawadill, editing by Diana Abdallah)