VIENNA (Reuters) - Vienna’s mayor on Thursday defended his decision to support a Michael Jackson tribute concert in the Austrian capital which was later scrapped and admitted the project had been badly organized.
Organizers, led by Michael’s brother Jermaine Jackson, canceled the concert earlier this month after struggling to get top stars to perform at short notice in the small Alpine nation.
A replacement concert is planned for next year in London around the anniversary of the pop star’s death.
The Vienna show would have been “very interesting...had it been properly prepared and organized in an orderly way,” Mayor Michael Haeupl told the city council assembly.
“But it was not,” he said in remarks carried by news agency APA.
The city refused to give a cent in sponsorship for the show after it became clear it would not bring in as much in advertising revenues as originally promised by the organizers.
Ticket sales stagnated after billed acts such as R&B stars Mary J. Blige and Chris Brown and veteran singer Natalie Cole started to back away from the concert which would have taken place this Saturday at the 17th century Schoenbrunn palace.
Jermaine Jackson had planned to sing a virtual duet with his late brother who would have been brought to life by video projections on a concert stage decked with a golden crown.
Haeupl said the event could have put Vienna on the map. Other politicians were less gracious.
“All that’s left is a big disgrace,” far-right Freedom Party Gerald Ebinger told the city council. Green Party councilor Marie Ringler asked whether there were worries that Vienna’s image might have been damaged.
Organizers for the concert blamed Austrian media for the cancellation, saying they treated the line-up as “B-List” artists and sullied the memory of Jackson, who died of a drug overdose June 25.
Reporting by Sylvia Westall, editing by Paul Casciato