The Michael Jackson memorial is over, but anyone who thinks this storyline will disappear from the pop culture landscape any time soon is probably living in Neverland.
So what’s next? Let’s count the possibilities… with the major caveat that what follows is only slightly informed speculation, nothing more. (Wait, you weren’t expecting actual facts in a Michael Jackson story, were you?):
–"Heal the World: The Concert for Michael": There’s already blogosphere buzz about an August memorial tribute for Jackson, possibly in the same London arena where he was scheduled to begin his comeback tour this month. I don’t know if there’s any truth to that notion, but this much seems certain: There will be at least one, if not several, megaconcert salutes to Jackson over the next year.
As potent as Tuesday’s memorial was, it really wasn’t a blockbuster event: No Madonna, no Diana, no Justin Timberlake… for Bubbles’ sake, Diddy wasn’t even there! There are so many musical celebrities who need to pay tribute to Jackson, a hastily arranged memorial simply won’t do.
Given Jackson’s friendship with Princess Diana, and the fact that he was an even bigger international star, I could see the royals getting involved. If AEG thinks it makes sense, of course.
–Said concert will be a major TV event that fetches millions in rights fees. It was certainly nice of AEG to open up the feed to Tuesday’s memorial to all who wanted to broadcast it. But that event was just the appetizer. The megaconcert will require a cash infusion from one, if not multiple broadcasters. If a show can be mounted by mid-September, don’t be surprised if multiple broadcast networks make bids for the show; it would make a great promotional platform to hype new shows. (And given how low ratings have sunk for the networks this summer, they need something to revive their pulse).
Don’t rule out cable, though. MTV will definitely want in on the action, perhaps partnered with sibling BET.
–Expect a flood of unofficial Michael Jackson specials in the coming months. The "Motown 25" special where Jackson debuted the Moonwalk will probably be repackaged. And don’t be surprised if some of the networks who don’t get the rights to the big concert decide to put together their own specials.
CBS specials guru Jack Sussman knows everybody who’s anybody in the music business. I’d be shocked if he isn’t already calling up his pals and putting something together.
–Of course, Sussman might also be focusing on bringing some Michael magic to September’s Emmy broadcast. There will almost certainly be a major tribute to Jackson on this year’s kudos. That goes double for the same month’s MTV Video Music Awards.
–Don’t forget the tribute album(s). Expect all of Jackson’s catalogue to be used for a CD of big stars singing his music, released right around Thanksgiving. Adam Lambert of "American Idol" will be on this disc.
–On that note, look for one or two big new songs to emerge paying homage to Jackson. If Tupac and Marvin Gaye’s passings can inspire hit singles, Jackson’s death demands a superstar collaboration of epic proportions. Personally, I’d love to see an update of "We Are the World," with a new generation of stars tackling Jackson’s creation. (I hereby nominate Jason Mraz for the Bob Dylan parts).
–Finally, expect lots of kids and adults looking like these folks right around late October. Yes, there will be a surge of Michael Jackson costumes this Halloween. And some news organization somewhere is already putting together a story on how costume manufacturers have already doubled their orders for Thriller jackets.