VIENNA — Next month's tribute to Michael Jackson on the grounds of a 17th century palace in Vienna will feature a three-hour, star-studded show to be televised live to a global audience of 1 billion people, the event promoter said Tuesday.
Georg Kindel of World Awards Media GmbH said negotiations are ongoing with networks over rights to broadcast what's being billed as Jackson's main global tribute, and the pop legend's brother Jermaine is assembling the lineup of about 10 "of the biggest artists of our time."
"Jermaine thinks maybe 1 billion people will watch the television show," Kindel said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It will be a very special evening for the millions of fans around the globe."
Austrian media reported that Madonna, U2, Lionel Richie and Whitney Houston might be among the artists performing 15-20 Jackson hits on a crown-shaped outdoor stage in front of Schoenbrunn Palace. But Kindel said the lineup is still in the works.
"I don't even know myself" who will take the stage, he said.
The event will be held in the second half of September, he said. Organizers have pledged to announce the date and lineup soon. Tickets go on sale Aug. 20.
Kindel said the show — conceived amid a flurry of events honoring Jackson since his death June 25 in Los Angeles — also will feature family members and unidentified Hollywood stars reminiscing as images and video clips of Jackson are screened.
"It will be about Michael Jackson the man and the humanitarian," he said, adding that a "significant portion" of the proceeds will benefit several charities, including the Larry King Cardiac Foundation, which helps patients who can't afford heart surgery.
Why Vienna? Singer ‘loved castles’
Kindel said the tribute originally was planned for London's Wembley Stadium on Aug. 29, which would have been Jackson's 51st birthday, but that Jermaine Jackson decided instead on Vienna. The singer had been rehearsing for a series of London concerts at the time of his death.
Kindel said the switch took him by surprise: "Everyone was expecting it would be staged maybe in London or New York or Los Angeles," he said.
Explaining Vienna as a venue, Jermaine Jackson told "Larry King Live" on Friday that his brother loved the city and "loved castles."
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After Kindel organized a Jackson remembrance held last month outside a mothballed nuclear power plant west of Vienna, Jermaine Jackson spent a few hours touring Schoenbrunn, which his brother also had visited.
"He was really fascinated and said, 'This is a really royal and ideal place for such a tribute to Michael,'" Kindel told the AP.
The majestic yellow palace and its sprawling, sculpted gardens are nothing like Los Angeles' Staples Center, where a big Jackson memorial was held last month, Kindel said.
"You can't compare it with a real historic palace which was built hundreds of years ago," he said in his downtown Vienna office.
"This is not Disneyland," Kindel said. But he added: "There's a zoo, there are parks ... I think (Michael Jackson) would like the site. It's a little bit like Neverland, but much bigger."
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