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Michael Jackson announces comeback
Thu Mar 5, 2009 2:55pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White
LONDON (Reuters) - Michael Jackson announced his long-awaited comeback on Thursday, telling hundreds of screaming fans he would perform in London this summer and calling it his "final curtain call" in the city.
Wearing a military-style black jacket decorated with silver sequins and punching the air, the 50-year-old revealed his plans on a makeshift stage at the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena where he will play 10 dates starting on July 8.
"Thank you all...this is it," said Jackson from behind a pair of dark glasses.
"These will be my final shows ... 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 it, this is really it, this is the final curtain call."
Music promoter AEG Live, which has signed a deal with Jackson, said that the 10-show Las Vegas-style "residency" could be extended if there was sufficient demand for tickets.
AEG Live president and CEO Randy Phillips did not rule out further cooperation with one of the world's biggest music stars, telling Reuters that his company had a three-and-a-half-year plan to work with Jackson.
"He could gross well over $400 million over the three and a half years," he said.
The agreement could involve developing a big-screen version of Jackson's hit song and video "Thriller."
Asked about concerns over Jackson's health in recent years, Phillips said Jackson had passed a four-and-a-half hour physical examination with independent doctors.
Jackson, still viewed as "The King of Pop" by his fans, has lived the life of a virtual recluse since his acquittal of child abuse charges at a 2005 trial.
His last album of new material was "Invincible," released in 2001, and his position as one of pop music's biggest acts has been increasingly overshadowed by bizarre behavior, a changing appearance and questions about his health.
But fans in London were not concerned.
"Of course it's worth it," said Shuhena Begum, who traveled from the central English city of Birmingham to see Jackson. "My whole family is mad about Michael -- he's the greatest," the 21-year-old added.
She said much of the negative press about Jackson in recent years was unjustified. Continued...
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