Michael Jackson plans 'final curtain call'

Singer says 10 shows in London will be his last

The Michael Jackson Show is coming to London -- and it might play for weeks.

The embattled erstwhile King of Pop held a news conference Thursday in London to confirm a residency of at least 10 concerts at the city's O2 arena beginning July 8. Hundreds of fans and members of the media turned up for the announcement after promoter AEG Live posted a message on the venue's Web site inviting people to attend.

"Thank you all ... this is it," Jackson, 50, said from behind a pair of dark glasses. "These will be my final ... performances in London. When I say this is it, I mean this is it. I'll be performing the songs my fans want to hear. ... This is the final curtain call."

Tickets for the run, priced at 50 pounds-75 pounds ($70-$106), go on sale March 13. Details will be announced later.

"I love you," said Jackson, wearing a military-style black jacket decorated with silver sequins and punching the air. "I really do, you have to know that, from the bottom of my heart. This is it, and see you in July."

AEG said the string of shows at the 23,000-seat hall might be extended if there is sufficient demand.

"I think you'll see 20, 25 dates at the O2," AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke said during his keynote Q&A session at the Billboard Music & Money Symposium in New York. "His production budget is ... wow."

AEG Live also put together Prince's record-setting run of 21 sellouts at the O2, which grossed more than $22 million.

"The man is very sane; the man is very focused; the man is very healthy," Leiweke said of Jackson. "Despite everything you read about him, he was fine. The man took a physical for us to go do these concerts."

AEG Live president and CEO Randy Phillips said the physical, performed by independent doctors, took 4 1/2 hours.

Leiweke said it took time to get Jackson to agree to the deal. The singer has not released a studio album or played a full concert since 2001. His most recent major tour was the HIStory jaunt in 1996-97.

"We spent two years working with Michael, trying to get him comfortable with this," Leiweke said.

Asked why the comeback will be staged in London at the O2, which AEG Live operates, Leiweke said: "It's the most important venue in music today. With all due respect to the Staples Center and the (Madison Square) Garden, the O2 is where you went to see Led Zeppelin reunite."

Phillips said AEG has a 3 1/2-year plan to work with Jackson.

"He could gross well over $400 million over the 3 1/2 years," he said.

The agreement could involve developing a big-screen version of Jackson's hit song and video "Thriller."

Andre Paine reported from London; Bill Werde reported from New York. Reuters contributed to this report.
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