Major tribute to Michael Jackson being organized on grounds of Vienna’s Schoenbrunn Palace

Monday, August 10, 2009

Major Michael Jackson tribute planned for Vienna

VIENNA —The King of Pop will get a royal send-off next month in Vienna.

Events promoter World Awards Media GmbH confirmed Monday that members of Michael Jackson’s family and a “high-profile lineup of international stars” are planning a tribute concert in the Austrian capital.

Organizers said the venue will be the sprawling grounds of Vienna’s former imperial Schoenbrunn Palace, where a giant outdoor multimedia stage shaped like a crown will be built.

Jackson’s brother Jermaine said recently that Vienna was special for Michael, who “loved castles.” Tickets will go on sale Aug. 20.

“For one incredible night Michael Jackson’s unforgettable music will be brought to life again,” World Awards Media said on its Web site. “Some of the world’s leading artists will perform Michael’s greatest hits live in Vienna in front of one of the most fascinating historical sites in Europe and celebrate the life of the ‘King of Pop.’”

Organizers said Jermaine Jackson and other family members “will lead a high-profile lineup of international stars on stage to celebrate the life of his brother and perform some of Michael’s unforgettable songs.”

They would not confirm reports that the tribute may include U2, Madonna, Lionel Richie and Whitney Houston.

World Awards Media chief Georg Kindel said Monday it would be held in the first part of September. Jackson died June 25 in Los Angeles.

Many had expected the tribute to be held in London, where Jackson was booked to perform a series of concerts, or a larger European capital such as Berlin, Paris or Rome.

But Friday, on “Larry King Live,” Jermaine Jackson said Vienna was “a very dear place for Michael.”

“And he loved castles. And we’re going to have this huge celebration in front of a castle,” Jermaine Jackson said.

Spokespeople for promoters AEG Live, which had been organizing Jackson’s London concerts, had no immediate comment on the Vienna tribute. But London fans expressed displeasure.

“If he likes castles, they could’ve done it anywhere in the UK. We’ve got them here, too,” said Peter Chowng, a 42-year-old London businessman.

Kindel said he hoped to secure official permission within the next eight days to hold the concert at Schoenbrunn.

The venue has enough standing room to accommodate 85,000 people. The daily Oesterreich said giant screens would be set up in parks around Vienna to handle the huge overflow crowds expected.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Schoenbrunn dates to the 14th century, but it’s best known for more recent occupants: members of the royal Habsburg dynasty, which ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Jermaine Jackson said, in a statement on World Awards Media’s Web site, that the concert was conceived as an annual event to keep alive not only Michael Jackson’s music, “but his spirit as well.”

Kindel said a “not insignificant” portion of the proceeds would go to the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, which helps patients who can’t afford heart surgery.

Monday’s announcement drew an angry reaction from an organization calling itself Resistance for Peace Vienna.

The group, citing Jackson’s legal entanglements over allegations of child molestation, sent Vienna City Hall and Schoenbrunn’s supervisory board a letter urging authorities not to approve the plan “for ethical reasons.”

Associated Press Writer Karolina Tagaris in London contributed to this report.

On the Net:

Tribute site,

Schoenbrunn Palace,

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