It's the news fans have been waiting for. Michael Jackson is looking to mount a thriller of a comeback, nearly four years since he was acquitted of child-molestation charges.
The erstwhile King of Pop is aiming to reclaim his throne, announcing today at a press conference plans to play 10 concerts in London's O2 Arena, his first string of shows in more than a decade.
"I love you very much," a fit-looking Jackson told thousands of screaming devotees. "This is it.
"I just want to say that these will be my final show performances in London. This will be it. When I say this is it, it really means this is it," Jackson added. "I'll be performing the songs my fans want to hear...this is the final curtain call. I'll see you in July."
The megastar was stuck in traffic and late to his own press conference. But when he did finally show up, fans were treated to a short film on his storied career and past live performances.
"I love you. I really do so much. From the bottom of my heart. This is it. See you in July," said the 50-year-old Moonwalker.
He then raised his fist in the air, struck a series of poses, and left the stage.
News of Jackson's long-awaited return was the topic of conversation earlier this morning, when the show's promoters, AEG Live, addressed questions at the Billboard Music & Money Symposium in New York City.
"The man is very sane, the man is very focused, the man is very healthy," AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke told Billboard. "I think he has been dragged through the mud."
Various reports had initially claimed Jackson might play up to 30 shows.
He is expected to kick off the run on July 8.
Leiweke said he was awed by Jackson's production budget and dispelled any doubts that the 50-year-old singer might be in too fragile of health to make good on his commitment.
"Despite everything you read about him, he was fine," commented the executive. "The man took a physical for us to go do these concerts."
Negotiations weren't so easy however and took two years and three rejected offers before they could finally get Jackson to agree to terms, Leiweke said.
Jackson's last concert was 2001's solo 20th anniversary show at Madison Square Garden. Before that, he hadn't hit the road since his 1996-97 HIStory World Tour.
It's not known how much the Gloved One will earn for the performances, but insiders say it could be close to $1 million a show.
No doubt, the O2 gigs will go a long way toward easing Jackson's financial woes, including hefty a legal tab stemming from an endless string of lawsuits filed against him.
Tickets go on sale March 13. Check www.michaeljackson.com for details.
(Originally published March 5, 2009 at 9:46 a.m. PT.)