It’s hard to find a celebrity who isn’t planning to be at Michael Jackson’s 30th anniversary concert tonight (Sept. 7) at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The first of two heavily hyped concerts (the second is scheduled for Monday night at the venue), the show will feature appearances or performances by ‘N Sync, Gladys Knight, Eminem, Destiny’s Child, Yoko Ono, Jill Scott, Alicia Keys, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Tucker, Samuel L. Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marlon Brando — just to name a few.
“Michael doesn’t do nothing small,” said Rodney Jerkins, who produced much of Jackson’s upcoming album, “Invincible,” due Oct. 30 via Epic. “Anytime a person has Disney World in their backyard, you know they’re thinking big.”
Other music figures either taking part or attending are Britney Spears, Liza Minnelli, Usher, Sean Lennon, Marc Anthony, Ray Charles, Deborah Cox, Gloria Estefan, Billy Gilman, James Ingram, Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau, Monica, Mya, Shaggy, Dr. Dre, Master P, Jimmy Ruffin, Paul Shaffer, Snoop Dogg, Edwin Starr, Nick Ashford, Valerie Simpson, Roberta Flack, Patti LaBelle, and Natalie Cole. Ricky Martin was due to perform, but pulled out due to production issues, according to the New York Post.
The rest of the guest list reads like a Hollywood who’s who (or in some cases, a who was who). Invited celebrities include actors Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Jill St. John, Ben Gazarra, Mark Hamill, David Hasselhoff, Robert Wagner, Willem Dafoe, Gregory Peck, Liam Neeson, Vanessa Redgrave, Natasha Richardson, and longtime Jackson friend Macaulay Culkin, as well as producer/director Penny Marshall, and supermodel Naomi Campbell.
The world of sports will be represented by Muhammad Ali, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Grant Hill and wife Tamia, and Reggie Miller. Talk show hosts Sally Jesse Raphael and Montel Williams also are expected to be on hand. And from out of the past will come Angie Dickinson, Jane Russell, Ann Miller, Esther Williams, Janet Leigh, William Shatner, and Freda Payne.
The concerts are part of Jackson’s attempt to reclaim his “King of Pop” title after a six-year absence between albums. In advance of the release of “Invincible,” Epic issued the first radio single, “You Rock My World.” As reported yesterday, in its second week on the chart, the track jumps 34-11 on The Billboard Hot 100, and is the chart’s fastest-growing track at radio.
Last night, Jackson made a cameo appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards, appearing briefly onstage with ‘N Sync. The group is to perform a duet with Jackson and his brothers at tonight’s tribute show. Jackson is also set to perform with Whitney Houston and perform his new single, as well as his classic hits.
As first reported here, tickets to the shows ranged from $45 to $2,500, with most of the less expensive seats selling out within hours. At deadline, pricier tickets to both shows were still available. For those with $20,000 or more to spend, an after-hours party with Jackson at the Tavern on the Green restaurant is also on the schedule.
Both concerts will be taped and edited down into a special due to air on CBS in November.
— AP & Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.
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