Michael Jackson Brand Expands; Mom Considering Wrongful-Death Suit
Mon., Aug. 17, 2009 5:13 PM PDT by Natalie Finn
Michael Jackson couture is just around the corner.
A judge on Monday approved deals proposed by the administrators of the artist's estate to market clothing and various other types of Jackson-branded merchandise, but the wheeling and dealing ground to a halt when Katherine Jackson objected to a plan to take memorabilia that M.J. actually touched and wore on tour. Not that the King of Pop's mother thinks the memorabilia tour proposed by AEG Live is a bad idea. She just thinks there's more gold in the mine that AEG has yet to tap into.
Burt Levitch, one of Katherine's attorneys, said he feared that the administrators were trying to portray his client as greedy—which is not the case, he insisted. In addition to wanting to further discuss the split of the proceeds from such a venture, she harbors continued concerns about her son's legacy. On Friday, Katherine and her attorneys agreed to AEG's sale of hours of Jackson rehearsal footage to Columbia Pictures for $60 million, and today they withdrew any objections to the various merchandising deals in the works.
Estate attorney Howard Weitzman warned that dragging their feet on the memorabilia tour, which needs to be finalized by Friday in order to time the opening of the exhibition to coincide with the film's premiere, could cost them millions. "I see the delay as a real problem for the estate," agreed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff, who set a follow-up hearing for Friday. "She doesn't own the property," the judge said in reference to Katherine's request for authority to sign off on the final deal. "There's no reason to make her a signatory to those agreements."
Katherine's attorneys said today that they plan to show that "not only can more money be generated, but that the legacy can be better protected."
Attorney Margaret Lodise, whom Beckloff appointed last week to represent the interests of Jackson children Prince Michael, Paris and Prince II, says that she won't stand in the way of the memorabilia tour.
"I hope we won't be nitpicking each and every deal," Weitzman said after court today, "because there will be many deals in the future." Meanwhile, Beckloff confirmed that cardiologist Conrad Murray's name "has been floated" as a potential target for a wrongful-death lawsuit, but that it was "premature" to discuss details.
Murray, who was employed as Jackson's private doctor and was at the singer's home when he went into cardiac arrest June 25, is currently the subject of a manslaughter investigation being conducted by the LAPD in accordance with the Drug Enforcement Administration and California Attorney General's Office.
—Additional reporting by Lindsay Miller Michael Jackson Brand Expands; Mom Considering Wrongful-Death Suit - E! Online