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BET Awards prepare gala

LOS ANGELES -- The Shrine Auditorium became an entertainment epicentre Saturday, as performers and organizers prepared for the Sunday's BET Awards show that's being retooled as a tribute to Michael Jackson.

Black Entertainment Television modified its plans after learning of Jackson's death Thursday.

One of the performers, Keri Hilson, and her backup dancers needed extra rehearsal time to perfect their routine, which was changed to honour Jackson.

Soulja Boy studied Michael Jackson's dance moves when he was a kid, but he won't be busting any out. He plans to perform Turn My Swag On straight -- nothing special to honor Jackson.

"I just want to turn it up and do the best I can do," the rapper said. "Michael Jackson, that's a legend. It's hard to live up to what he accomplished."

Bio presses roll Tuesday

MONTREAL -- A small Montreal publishing house appears to have struck a gold mine with the death of pop superstar Michael Jackson.

Transit Media Inc. will start the presses rolling Tuesday morning on what is expected to be a 354-page, hardcover biography of the freshly deceased entertainment icon.

About 50 pages are being added during a frantic rewrite by author Ian Halperin following Jackson's death Thursday, Pierre Turgeon said Saturday. Turgeon, who is the book's publisher and president of Transit Media, said the book had been prepared in the run-up to Jackson's series of 50 London concerts.

The book had already been titled Michael Jackson: The Last Days, Turgeon added.

In a lengthy story under his byline on the Daily Mail's website, Halperin suggested that Jackson had become an anorexic and also that he may have suffered from a medical condition called Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, the lack of a protein that can help protect the lungs.

Apollo plans tribute

NEW YORK -- The Harlem theatre that helped launch Michael Jackson's career plans star-studded tributes to him this summer.

The Apollo Theater will also stage a public memorial Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eulogies will be delivered under the marquee by its president and others.

Inside, DJs will spin Jackson's music accompanied by video tributes.

And on Wednesday night, Apollo's weekly Amateur Night will be dedicated to the King of Pop, who won Amateur Night with the Jackson 5 in 1969. Ex-publicist offers details

A Vancouver resident who helped steer Michael Jackson through some of his most controversial moments says he was stunned by the death of the pop icon -- but not surprised -- in an interview that offers a revealing glimpse of the bizarre performer.

Stuart Backerman was Jackson's publicist from 2002 to 2004 -- dealing with one PR disaster after another.

He knew intimate details of Jackson's health problems and his reliance on prescription drugs. Jackson was preparing for a series of concerts in London, his first shows in years, and was under a great deal of stress.

"To be quite honest, his lifestyle, the anxiousness he's been under, and stress in terms of the concerts in London was incredible," said Backerman.

"Remember, he signed up for 50 concerts, performing every other night. That's a lot for a guy who hasn't performed since 2001."

-- From the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 28, 2009 B15

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