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AEG offered Michael Jackson estate $60 million for Las Vegas show

By Jeff Gottlieb

4:21 PM EDT, July 23, 2013

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An AEG Live executive testified Tuesday that the firm offered Michael Jackson's estate a guarantee of $60 million over 10 years in a deal that included a Las Vegas theatrical show based on the pop star's songs.

John Meglen said the proposal included a "Michael Jackson campus" at the Planet Hollywood Hotel that would have included the singer's artifacts, two restaurants, a nightclub and stores to sell merchandise.

The show would have been directed by Kenny Ortega, the director of the ill-fated "This Is It" 50-concert comeback tour Jackson was preparing when he died in 2009.

FULL COVERAGE: AEG wrongful-death trial

The AEG executive testified his company would have paid an additional $40 million to create the show.

"The $40 million gets you to opening night," he said.

Meglen, dressed in a dark blue suit and a white shirt open at the collar, said this would have been AEG's first shot at creating what he called a "conceptual show," rather than one where a live performer is the main attraction.

Conceptual shows, he said, are riskier.

“With the headliner, you have a certain track record of how many tickets they’re going to sell … but if you do a show based on Elton’s music or Celine’s music, it depends on how good the show is, I guess,” said Meglen referring to Elton John and Celine Dion, singers who have done extended runs at Las Vegas hotels.

Meglen said that hearing that Cirque du Soleil was talking to the Jackson estate is what led AEG to make its pitch.

He said they had a meeting with the estate's co-executor, John Branca, in his conference room. Meglen said AEG did a "B-minus, C-plus pitch. In my opinion, they were already down the road and they wanted to do the show with Cirque.”

The Circue du Soleil tribute to Jackson is playing at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, with shows scheduled to open soon in China, Australia and New Zealand.

Meglen said AEG never made Jackson an offer for a conceptual show while he was alive.

“We thought if we could create the show with Michael’s catalog that that could be very successful, but it’s risky,” Meglen said.

The court is hearing the wrongful death case filed by Jackson's mother and three children against AEG Live.

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jeff.gottlieb@latimes.com