Monday, March 1, 2010


FIRST PUBLISHED: September 25, 2009 8:52 AM EDT

LOS ANGELES, Calif. --
As dozens of buoyant Michael Jackson fans queued
up in the Nokia Plaza to be among the first to see
their idol’s last performance, others watching the
scene expressed mixed emotions.

Tim Leiweke, president of AEG, which bankrolled Jackson’s
“This is It” tour and is a key player in the film, recalled
the moment he got the news of Jackson’s death.

“Well, at first it lets all the air out of you, and you sit
here and you’re stunned at how quickly it happened and occurred.
You’re in denial. You can’t believe it. You’re looking around,
saying, ‘What happened?”

Zip ahead some three months, to Thursday afternoon —
about an hour before the opening of the nearly two-and-a-half
day waiting line for advance tickets to “Michael Jackson’s
‘This is It’” concert documentary. Leiweke reunited with
musicians, singers and dancers from the tour in a press
conference held in the plaza, which is just directly across
the street from the Staples Center, the site of Jackson’s
rehearsals, the last of which taking place just hours before
his death June 25.

“It’s mixed feelings, first of all, to see these guys again,
and to be in this space,” noted singer Darryl Phinnessee.
“You know, we finished rehearsing at quarter to midnight
the night before Michael died, and he was energetic and up
and doing his thing, as you’ll see in the movie.”

Leiweke said the movie also will provide proof that
AEG had Jackson’s well-being in mind.

“I think we still are hurt,” Leiweke explained.
“Some of the things that people have said about us,
which are so untrue, this movie’s going to restore
his legacy, and prove that we, in fact, gave Michael
a second chance here. And an opportunity to make the
kind of comeback here was dreaming of. And that we
created an environment for him that was probably the
best environment that the guy had the last 10 or 15
years of his life. And I’m very proud of the way we
treated Michael, and very proud of the partnership
that we had with him. And this movie is an opportunity
to celebrate that, and we could get past all of the
gossip and all of the innuendo.”

“This is It” is set to open in cinemas worldwide Oct. 28.

Copyright 2010 by Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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