Major Jackson tribute planned for Vienna
VIENNA -- The King of Pop is about to get a royal send-off 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 to be held within a few weeks in the Austrian capital.
Organizers said they'll announce the date soon, but the venue is set: the sculpted and sprawling grounds of Vienna's former imperial Schoenbrunn Palace.
Tickets will go on sale Aug. 20, World Awards Media said on its Web site.
"For one incredible night Michael Jackson's unforgettable music will be brought to life again," it said. "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 Austrian media reports that the outdoor tribute may include U2, Madonna, Lionel Richie and Whitney Houston.
There were conflicting reports Monday about the date. Some said the tribute still might be held Aug. 29, which would have been Jackson's 51st birthday; others said it will be staged in mid-September because organizers need more time to plan.
Jackson died June 25 in Los Angeles.
The daily Oesterreich said giant screens would be set up in parks around Vienna to handle the huge overflow crowds expected for the event.
Schoenbrunn, one of Vienna's biggest tourist attractions, can accommodate about 85,000 people. World Awards Media said grandstands would be set up for 5,000 VIP guests, and that a special stage would be constructed in the shape of a crown, with the majestic yellow palace in the background.
In a Friday evening appearance on "Larry King Live," Jermaine Jackson had hinted that a big tribute was planned in Vienna. He said the Austrian capital 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.
Strictly speaking, stately Schoenbrunn is more of a palace than a castle.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, its history dates to the 14th century, but it's best known for slightly more recent occupants: members of the royal Habsburg dynasty, which ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Open-air concerts -- usually featuring opera and classical music -- often are held on its grounds.
Austria already has played host to a Jackson tribute: Last month, Jermaine Jackson performed some of his brother's hits on a stage erected outside a mothballed nuclear power plant west of Vienna.
In a statement posted Monday on the World Awards Media site, he said the upcoming tribute concert was conceived as an annual event "to keep not only his unique music alive, but his spirit as well."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)