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[Updated] Michael Jackson's death: Director envisions 'We are the World' tribute

June 27, 2009 | 10:20 am

The director of Michael Jackson’s comeback concerts, Kenny Ortega, has said the show must go on -- even if the King of Pop no longer can.

Although plans are not yet confirmed, Ortega -- the choreographer and director behind such hits as “Dirty Dancing,” “High School Musical” and “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour” -- is seeking to create a tribute to the singer using some of the choreography, costuming, musical staging and films Jackson engineered for his 50-date “This Is It” concert run at London’s O2 Arena.

“He’s so beloved in the world, somehow, perhaps we can find a way to pay tribute to his mind, talent, vision and heart,” Ortega told The Times hours after Jackson’s death. “Maybe part of what we were planning to do in London and beyond -- maybe we can share some of these ideas in a different capacity.”

[Updated 4:40 p.m.]The concert promoter, AEG Live, is preparing to annouce a refund policy for the nearly 1 million tickets for the 50 canceled shows.  AEG spokesman Michael Roth said Saturday afternoon that “It’s too premature to talk about it."

He said he was “only imagining.” But the director outlined an idea to organize a creative collaboration modeled on “We Are the World,” the 1985 song written by Jackson and Lionel Richie to benefit African charities that enlisted a group of pop superstars, including Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Diana Ross.

“It wouldn’t take an enlightened thinker to come up with a way,” Ortega said. “There must be a hundred ways we can celebrate this man’s legacy. Broadway. Movies. Vegas. I hope all his artist friends will come together and have a real ‘We Are the World’ where we can share stories and Michael’s legacy in some great celebration. I’m sure they would love nothing more than to be a part of it.”

On Friday, Ed Alonzo, a concert magician Jackson hired to create illusions for his comeback concerts, said he had not been contacted by Ortega about carrying on work with the production, but said he remained open to the idea.

“Nobody has talked to me about it, but I would be happy to do something like that,” Alonzo said.

Ortega added, “I hope there’s a way to be able to still make that happen for Michael. He was so in love with this project and involved in the creation of all of it. This is some of his greatest work for sure.”

-- Chris Lee

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Interactive map: See significant sites in the life and death of Michael Jackson, including Neverland Ranch and his boyhood home in Gary, Indiana.