Organizers Cancel Michael Jackson Vienna Tribute Concert

Blige To Sing National Anthem At World Series

A scheduled Michael Jackson tribute concert in Vienna has been canceled and the event will be shifted to London next year, Organizers said on 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.

Organizer Georg Kindel 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.

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."

"It has just taken the wrong course," Jermaine Jackson told reporters. "I personally didn't want to take that course because Michael wouldn't have wanted to be part of anything that was going that way."

Vienna city council said earlier on 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.

Tickets had been on sale for 63 to 518 euros ($91-$745). A spokeswoman for the Organizers said over half of the 65,000 tickets had been sold but that sales had stagnated with the bad publicity following the announcement of the line up.

Jermaine Jackson said last week he had chosen Austria's capital as the setting because his brother loved the city, where he last performed in 1997 on his HIStory World tour.

Tickets for the London concert will start at 44 pounds ($73) and the line-up will be announced in December.

"We do not have the exact (concert) date because Wembley Stadium said to us there were two possible dates that would work for them," Kindel said, adding that it was impossible to go out with a new line-up before the date was fixed.

COPYRIGHT: (c) Reuters 2009. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.