One day after his scene-stealing surprise appearance with 'N Sync at the MTV Video Music Awards, Jackson is about to launch a long-awaited (and slightly overanalyzed) bid to retain his self-proclaimed title as King of Pop. Jackson has a catchy new single ("You Rock My World") and a new album (Invincible, due out in October), but the real blitz officially starts Friday and Monday, with two 30th anniversary concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden.
While the star-studded lineup has undergone more changes than Michael's own appearance over the past three decades, Friday's concert will still be a who's who of celebs and music heavyweights: Jill Scott, Destiny's Child, Whitney Houston, Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Tucker, Gladys Knight, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando are just a handful of big names expected to attend or perform. 'N Sync has worked out a version of "Dancing Machine" with the Gloved One, while Usher will open things up with a rendition of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'."
Then there's Michael himself, who will perform some of his greatest hits over the past three decades, as well as "You Rock My World," the slick, Rodney Jerkins-produced first single from Invincible. MJ also will get some help from his brothers, as Jackie, Tito, Marlon, Randy and Jermaine reunite the Jacksons and Jackson 5 for the first time since 1984's Victory Tour.
Tickets for the spectacle ranged from $45 to a whopping $2,500. But while the cheap seats sold out quickly, there was early speculation whether promoters would be able to fill the more expensive front rows.
Either way, it's still a hot ticket: Many artists attending Thursday night's Video Music Awards said they weren't able to get their hands on tickets to the show. That even included MTV veejay Carson Daly.
Meanwhile, the concerts haven't been without their share of glitches. Brother Jermaine initially balked at the high ticket prices. 'N Sync canceled its appearance citing scheduling conflicts, but then apparently worked them out and signed back on. Even Britney Spears was iffy at the last moment, because the Jackson concert--schedule to air on CBS in November--would have jeopardized her own November concert special for HBO.
Spears' contract with the pay-cable network prevents her from performing on any other TV special within the same month. But the New York Post reports that they worked out a compromise--Britney will perform, but it will be edited out of the CBS broadcast.