Michael Jackson, Captain EO and the business of conquering the world- Part 8a- “This Is It”

By The Last Tear (Lou)

It seems you don’t know we reached the heightened mountain
Every time I seem to disappear
And together, we will fly, we’ll dance up in the heaven
I can really feel it when you’re near

Loving You, Michael Jackson

Section 1

In part 7- “Say, say, say”, we discussed how Michael Jackson found himself trapped in several conflicts from mid 80’s to the beginning of the 90’s. Some of the conflicts had nothing to do with Jackson himself but some had.

If you think that these conflicts and the way Jackson handled them did not impact what happened later, you are utterly mistaken. The accusations made against Jackson in 93 and 03-05 were only a way to destroy the good reputation of the star and to ruin his capacity to do business which consequently would bankrupt him and forced him to sell his assets.

Actually, it was one of Jackson’s enemies who revealed this plan for the first time. Do you remember the phone calls between Evan Chandler and David Schwartz? You find the transcripts of these phone calls on MJTruthnow.com site.

Please review a few quotes from the phone calls to refresh your memory:

[] [] MR. CHANDLER: (Simultaneous, inaudible) Michael Jackson — Michael Jackson’s career, Dave. This man is gonna be humiliated beyond belief.You’ll not believe it. He will not believe what’s going to happen to him. []

 MR. CHANDLER: Beyond his worst nightmares. [tape irregularity] not sell one more record. []

MR. CHANDLER: Then why don’t you just back me up right now and let’s get rid of Michael Jackson. []

MR. CHANDLER: — that everybody’s going to be destroyed in the process. The facts themselves are gonna — once this thing starts rolling – []

MR. CHANDLER: — the facts themselves are gonna overwhelm. It’s gonna be bigger than all of us put together, and the whole thing’s just gonna crash down on everybody and destroy everybody in its sight. That’s [tape irregularity] humiliating, believe me. []

MR. CHANDLER: — they’re automatically gonna be destroyed and I’m gonna get what I want. That’s a given [tape irregularity], so – []

MR. CHANDLER: There are other people involved that are waiting for my phone call that are intentionally going to be in certain positions – []

MR. CHANDLER: I mean the time set out. Everything is going according to a certain plan that isn’t just mine. There’s other people involved – [] [] [].

After the Chandlers’ case, Michael Jackson understood his vulnerability. The star who had hoped to live an ordinary life with ordinary people, realized how much that was impossible. He changed his day to day routines and isolated himself from people. Only a few had access to him. He got married with another celebrity and hoped be able to build his family.

Following his lawyers and advisers’ suggestion, Jackson settled with the Chandlers. After several months of silence, MJ came back (1995) stronger than before. Through his songs, his philanthropic activities and his business plans, he showed his enemies that he would not give in and that he would go his own way and fight back if necessary.

We can see the negative effect of the 93 case – when Jackson disappeared from the music world in 1994 and then came back in 95 – through these charts. To see the other years, please check the Billboard link:

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/268281/michael-jackson-king-of-billboards-pop-charts

Top 10 Billboard 200 albums:

BB2

Top 10 Billboard hot 100 singles:

BB3

Since the Chandlers’ case could not destroy entirely Jackson, other plans had to be set up. The previous gang of the tabloid vultures, Diane Dimond, Victor Gutierrez, Paul Barresi followed by Maureen Orth and others had to conspire and spread rumors of “new evidence”, “video”, “stories” and “other victims” to keep the molestation accusations alive. They called the settlement between the Chandlers and Jackson as a “proof of guilt” and trashed the star. Later Martin Bashir came along to finish the job.

Having heard that one or two moguls were after Jackson, the tabloid leeches were ready to bash MJ in every possible way to show their allegiance and obedience to the powerful men; after have done their dirty job, their reward was fame and money of course. It is crucial to understand how these tabloids operate. They only need to create DOUBTS. When the reader or the listener or the viewer begins to doubt, their job is done.

As we said before, since the 93 case did not destroy Jackson, another made-up case was needed to ruin him for good. The 03-05 case caused a deeper and greater damage to the star’s reputation and businesses but could not end him! As we know two years later in 2007, he returned and was ready to fight back.

Again we can see the negative effect of the accusations and the made-up trial on Jackson’s businesses by looking for example to the charts published by nielsen.com. The charts are based on the downloaded songs and that could have happened at any time; the time of the download is not interesting for us but the decade is:

http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/newswire/2009/jackson-journey-among-top-music-downloads-by-decade.html

Jackson dominated the 70’s and the 80’s. He was strong in the 90’s but disappeared in the 2000’s:

Top Downloaded Songs By Decade

 

 

nielsen 1

nielsen 2

nielsen 3

Let us now look closer to some business cases.

After the 93 allegations, Walt Disney World and Epcot Center which were Jackson’s business partners pulled out. Disney denied that their move was because of the 93 accusations but the timing is suspicious and Disney’s “explanation” silly:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1994-02-26/business/9402260014_1_captain-eo-epcot-center-dave-herbst

So long, Michael: Pop star Michael Jackson’s relationship…

February 26, 1994

So long, Michael: Pop star Michael Jackson’s relationship with Walt Disney World and Epcot Center is coming to an end, a Disney spokesman said. Jackson’s 3-D movie, “Captain Eo,” one of the most popular attractions at Epcot Center since 1986, will be pulled in the autumn and replaced by a new show titled “Honey I Shrunk the Theater.” Disney’s move came in the wake of allegations that Jackson sexually molested a 14-year-old boy. Dave Herbst, a Disney spokesman, said there was “no relationship whatsoever” between the decision to replace Jackson’s movie and the allegations.

However, after Jackson’s passing, suddenly, the Disney parks brought “Captain EO” back and showed it months after months without any explanation. In an article we read how Epcot and Disney had treated Jackson after the 93 case:

http://www.examiner.com/article/paying-tribute-to-michael-jackson-will-disney-resurrect-captain-eo

Paying tribute to Michael Jackson: Will Disney resurrects Captain EO?

June 26, 2009

By: Peggy Macdonald-Demosthenous

… Several years before Jackson faced felony child molestation charges, he enjoyed a lucrative partnership with Disney. Jackson teamed with George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, and Angelica Huston to create the 3-D short “Captain EO,” which debuted at Epcot’s Imagination pavilion in Future World and at Disneyland California in 1986. The film ran at Epcot until 1994, and also ran through the late 1990s at Disneyland California, Disneyland Paris, and Tokyo Disneyland.

Epcot stopped showing Captain EO shortly after the first accusations of child abuse were made against Jackson in 1993. Disney insiders claim that Jackson, who had made regular trips to Disney World, was only permitted to stay at Disney’s Swan and Dolphin hotels after the allegations of child abuse surfaced. The Swan and Dolphin hotels are located on Disney property but are managed by separate corporations: Westin Hotels manages the Swan and Sheraton Hotels & Resorts manages the Dolphin.

Not only did Disney World restrict Jackson’s access to its resort hotels and close down Captain EO at Epcot in Disney World (years before shutting it down at the other Disney parks), it also decided against partnering with Jackson on future projects. Although Jackson’s career had started to decline by the early 1990s, his international fame remained intact [] [].

Indeed, if the information given in this article is true, Epcot and Disney have to explain their acts. Why did they bring “Captain EO” back after MJ’s death, if they believed that he was “guilty”? And if they did/do not believe him “guilty” why did they pull in the film and banished him from their ground and projects? Epcot and Disney owe Michael Jackson a big apology; as far as we know, they have not yet uttered any regret.

Now, let us review Jackson businesses with Pepsi. All the data are from these pages:

http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/news/pepsi-and-michael-jackson-a-history-in-ads/4003885.article

http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/news/pepsi-readies-michael-jackson-tv-spot/4003855.article

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/489124/pepsi-launches-new-michael-jackson-campaign

1983: New Generation

In November 1983, one year after ‘Thriller’ was released, Michael Jackson (and his brothers) struck a $5m (£3.1m) partnership with Pepsi to become the first pop stars to front campaigns for the brand. Jackson moonwalked and boogied in Pepsi’s ‘The New Generation’ TV spot, which featured a reworking of the track Billie Jean.

1984: Convention

On 27 January 1984 the pop star’s hair caught fire during a freak accident on the set of the ‘Convention’ commercial. Jackson was treated for second and third degree burns and the advert has gone on to become synonymous with the incident. The spot was part of Pepsi’s ‘New Generation’ campaign and continued to use the reworked Billie Jean track.

1988: Chase

Pepsi launched a four part campaign which saw Jackson chased down by the paparazzi and fans. The adverts differed from previous editions by ramping up the Pepsi references throughout. It was released during the same year as Jackson’s ‘Moonwalker’ movie and had several homages to the film. The advert was soundtracked to Bad and had Jackson singing about the Pepsi brand.

1991: Dreams

The advert came out in the same year as Jackson’s fourth studio album Dangerous. The advert featured various visual elements taken from his Dangerous album cover. The advert is shot like music video and was heralded at the time for being one of the most elaborates ever filmed.

1993: I’ll be there

The advert starts with a mix of old stock footage of the Jackson family. Michael then hears his younger self singing and performs a duet with himself to the Jackson 5 song ‘I’ll be there’. The commercial was not shown in the United States and was the last Pepsi commercial starring Jackson.

2012: the 25th anniversary of the ‘Bad’ album and more

Following an agreement with Mr. Jackson’s estate, the beverage and snack giant said Thursday that it will roll out a billion Pepsi cans with a silhouette of Jackson as part of its newly launched “Live For Now” global marketing campaign.

Pepsi is to launch a TV spot starring Michael Jackson to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the pop artist’s ‘Bad’ album as part of it’s global music-themed campaign ‘Live for Now’.

MK-BU082_PEPSI__DV_20120503184009

We do not know what PepsiCo thought about the 93 accusations and Jackson. But it seems that after 93 case, Pepsi did not collaborate with MJ. Roger Enrico, one of the Pepsi’s top executives worked closely with Michael and made all the commercial deals. Enrico left PepsiCo in 2004 to work as the CEO of DreamWorks. In 2012, he resigned from DreamWorks:

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/dreamworks-animation-chairman-roger-enrico-resigns-article-1.1192160

DreamWorks Animation chairman Roger Enrico resigns 

Move comes after studio inked five-year distribution deal with News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox in August

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Thursday, October 25, 2012, 2:36 PM

GLENDALE, Calif. — DreamWorks Animation SKG says Chairman Roger Enrico has resigned effective immediately.

The movie studio is replacing Enrico, a former CEO of PepsiCo Inc. who had served as chairman since DreamWorks went public in 2004, with board member Mellody Hobson.

Dreamworks did not give a reason for Enrico’s resignation in its release Thursday.

The company makes a few big-budget animated movies every year, including “Kung Fu Panda” and “Madagascar,” along with some TV specials. It signed a five-year distribution deal with News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox in August [].

One wonders if being close to the trio Spielberg-Katzenberg-Geffen who were in conflict with Michael Jackson played a role in Enrico’ and Pepsi’s withdrawal from doing business with the star. It appears that it did not work between Enrico and SKG after all. Hopefully things will become clearer in the future!

After Jackson’s untimely passing, PepsiCo corrected its mistake and restored Jackson (his Estate) as its partner.

The next chapter is a big one, Sony and Jackson or even Japan and Jackson! Since it is a heavy subject, we will study it in section 2 – part 8b which will come up in a few days. Let us now review other businesses.

Fan pages on the Internet give us some information which are not complete but still show how ambitious Michael Jackson, the businessman, was. It shows how he thought and reasoned. It is also a demonstration on how hard Jackson fought to establish himself in the business world, not only in the music business; and how his enemies sabotaged him by using the allegations when they could.

Sources: http://www.thesilencedtruth.com/ and http://mjjtimeline.blogspot.se/

1996                                                                       

On February 16, 1996, Michael Jackson performs “Earth Song” at the Brit Awards. It is Jackson’s first TV performance in England in over 20 years. The performance is interrupted when Pulp singer, Jarvis Cocker storms the stage in protest, but is soon carried off by security and later questioned by police. Jackson later expressed his discontent over the incident; however, the controversy created by the performance has led to another rise in HIStory’s sales, putting the album back in the top 10 in Europe [].

During the HIStory Tour in Warsaw, Poland, on September 20, 1996, Jackson, who had the big dream to build amusement parks the world over, is approached by a local businessman, Jacques Tourel, director of the World Trade Center in Warsaw, to consider Poland as one of the possible places to build amusement parks [].

In 1996, a new drink, “Mystery: fresh-cool-magic”, coinciding with his worldwide HIStory Tour, hit the market. The official Michael Jackson product is described as a “healthy and vitalizing isotonic mineral drink” [] [].

1997

The second leg of Jackson’s HIStory World Tour begins in Bremen, Germany on May 31, 1997and concludes on October 15 in South Africa. Jackson sells his millionth concert ticket at the Wembley Stadium and sells out four concerts in a row there. The entertainer did not tour North America, but the tour was so successful that he had played 82 concerts to 4,5 million admirers in 35 countries on 5 continents. The estimated grosses totaled more than 160 million dollars and it was the biggest concert tour of its time [].

On November 18, 1997, Michael Jackson quietly arrives in Seoul, South Korea to discuss investment in troubled underwear maker, Ssangbangwool Ltd’s Ski Resort. “Michael Jackson has come to Korea to discuss the possibility of investing in Muju Resort,” says a company spokesman. The spokesman adds that Ssangbangwool has planned to expand the resort complex to include a theme park, but says the plans had been put on hold when the company faced financial troubles.

The Kingdom Entertainment was an important event in 1996-97. Jackson knew several celebrities and powerful men and women; among them the Saudi Arabia’s Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. The Prince and Jackson met each other in 1995. The Prince wished to invest in the US. Jackson became his partner and both launched their company.

It was indeed a good partnership which would allow Jackson to strengthen his band with the American business world and to extend it. Unfortunately, it did not work out. It appears that Jackson’s opponents succeeded to sabotage the collaboration between the two business partners. They probably insinuated to the Prince that collaboration with the star would not be well received because of the rumors. Guess who became the Prince’s partner after that? Tom Barrack!   When you say Tom Barrack then you need to think about people like Tohme and even Jermaine Jackson. You find several articles about the Prince and Barack for example on this page.

Please read some quotes about theKingdom Entertainment (source mentioned above):

Kingdom Entertainment- 1997

In 1997 the king of pop, Michael Jackson, launched a 50/50 joint venture with Saudi Arabia’s Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud to promote entertainment based on family values.
Kingdom Entertainment, the name of the new venture, was to develop a variety of entertainment projects such as movies, books, hotels, recordings, licensing, merchandising and theme parks. Under the new entertainment company and serving as producer, Jackson for MJJ Records (Michael Joseph Jackson) will oversee new artists, groups, music, and develop new projects.
The Jackson-Al-Waleed company also acquired 55% ownership of Landmark Entertainment Group, famous for design projects as the forum shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and the Terminator II-3d attraction at Universal Studio in Orlando Florida.

“Michael Jackson and I shared the same interests and the same essential values,” the Prince said about Jackson, whom he met 18 months ago in Paris and says also shares his “need to preserve family values.”
The megastar, who designed the project’s logo of a jeweled Excalibur style sword in a rock, said he wanted to be “actively involved in all facets of the global multimedia explosion.”
Kingdom Entertainment’s first project will be to sponsor Jackson’s HIStory world tour.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,987454-1,00.html

MICHAEL JACKSON’S ADVENTURES IN THE ARABIAN MAGIC KINGDOM

By Scott MacLeodMonday, Dec. 01, 1997

Michael Jackson’s image was in tatters. His album sales were flagging. And the tabloids were running out of space to print Jackson stories, ranging from his alleged child molestation to his bizarre marriage to–and divorce from–Lisa Marie Presley. To whom did the troubled singer turn to restart his faltering career? Desert royalty from Saudi Arabia, one of the most culturally isolated nations on earth, where even Beethoven concerts, much less Michael Jackson spectacles, are banned by the government.

Jackson and the prince may be one of the strangest pairings in show business, but Alwaleed seems to be making it work [] [].

The prince Alwaleed BinTalal and Jackson had a press conference (Paris, March 19, 1996) to announce their business collaboration:

http://anthony-king.com/blog/michael-jackson-the-history-tour-and-hrh-prince-alwaleed/

[]The Prince has recently renovated and reopened the world famous Savoy Hotel in London, is the private owner of the world’s biggest passenger plane the Airbus A380 and is generally one cool Prince! Kingdom entertainment also produced with Michael his short film “Ghosts”. Before we get on to the History world tour and the Princes involvement let’s take a look at a press conference with Prince Alwaleed and the King of pop Michael Jackson announcing a joint venture and business empire in 1997:

Here is a transcript of Michael’s speech:

“I would like to welcome all the journalists and press who are covering this historic press conference. For reasons I will soon share with you, Kingdom Entertainment represents a long awaiting dream come true.
My earliest inspiration to be actively involved in all facets of the global multi-media explosion was derived from decades of travelling throughout the world.

During these continuous concert tours, I was made privy to the heartbeats of millions of fans who willingly shared with me their hopes, loves, fears and most importantly, their desire for a better life. It was during this time that I first began to appreciate that the proper approach to global family entertainment could go a long way in addressing these concerns.

Until recently, my hectic schedule and outstanding professional commitments left me little chance to develop specific strategies for the development of a total integrated global entertainment complex. All that began to change 18 months ago when I first met my friend and partner in the Kingdom Entertainment, HRH Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal. In short order it was clear we shared the same goals and approaches on how to make global entertainment a reality.

Through Kingdom Entertainment the Prince and myself will combine human and financial resources to be successful in all phases of the multi-media revolution. As examples, we intend to be active in theme parks and hotels, feature films, animation, recordings, publishing, tours, children’s books, educational entertainment, character licensing and merchandising.

In closing, to all those millions who have encouraged me to get involved with global entertainment based on family values I can proudly say: Because of Kingdom Entertainment and my partner Prince Al Waleed, “You Are Not Alone”. “

Despite all the effort, the Prince pushed by the tabloids and other Jackson haters, had to defend himself:

“I cannot base my relationship on innuendo. I believe that all the fuss around him has no basis. I believe that he is still an underdeveloped asset. There is no other artist who can go to some countries and have the whole place come to a standstill.” -HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal

1998

It was an intense year with legal fights mostly against the tabloids. On April 9, 1998:

Michael has won the lawsuit that he filed against free lance journalist Victor Gutierrez, who claimed on Hard Copy that he had video tape of Michael Jackson molesting young boys. The lawsuit was filed against Gutierrez by Michael in 1995 for $100 million. Earlier today the Los Angeles jury ordered Gutierrez to pay $2.7 million to Michael Jackson. Michael’s lawyer Zia Modabber said to the reporters outside the courthouse, “Jurors told us they not only wanted to compensate Mr. Jackson and punish Victor Gutierrez, but to send a message that they are tired of tabloids lying about celebrities for money.”

And on May 11, 1998:

The lawsuit filed by Evan Chandler against Michael Jackson and codefendants ABC and Diane Sawyer has been held in the Court of Appeals where Evan Chandler is appealing earlier decisions in the case. The trial date that was set for June 1998 is no longer valid and there is no trial date scheduled. Thank you to MJIFC for this information.

In July, 1998:

Michael Jackson and business partner, Don Barden, announce plans for the creation of a billion-dollar entertainment complex, ‘The Majestic Kingdom’, in Detroit, Michigan, the city that launched his superstardom. The project includes a casino, a family-theme park, an aquarium and a hotel designed by Jackson himself and named “The Mansion In The Sky”.

The singer, who had been an anonymous partner in these kinds of ventures for years, says: “My mission is to just push the envelope of technology beyond its limitation and create some of the most wonderful things as humanly possible”. He also speaks to fans on microphone at Chene Park, visits Detroit’s Children’s Hospital and a downtown church.

Or these quotes:

July 4, 1998:

Michael Jackson will be visiting Detroit with his new business partner Dan Barden next Monday (July, 6). Michael is scheduled to appear at a video concert a Chene Park (HIStory tour footage will be shown), as well as visit the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, attend a benefit at the Charles Wright Museum of African American History, and attend business meetings with Barden.

Barden has said previously of him and Michael’s business partnership, “Whether it’s selling trains, building dams, or bridges, or highways, or hotels, or casinos, we’re going to be a diversified company worldwide. This is a phenomenal, historic partnership. There’s no reason we can’t be the largest African American company in the world in two years! The world is our playpen. Opportunities have been presented to us in South Korea, Vietnam, South Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, Las Vegas, and China. People are competing for our attention and our resources’.
Michael will fly into the Metro Airport on Monday, July 6, at 4:00pm. Beginning at 9am Tuesday, tickets will go on sale for the video concert through the local radio stations and the park’s ticket office. The concert will start at 5pm in Chene Park, Detroit. Please confirm these times with local media.

August 5, 1998:

While in Detroit to support his friend and business partner Dan Barden during the vote, Michael told a crowd outside a union hall to vote in favor of Barden’s proposal. Michael was quoted a saying, “We know that the person who owns the company makes the rules. When you own the business and make the rules, you can provide more than jobs. You can create a legacy like Henry Ford. So vote yes to ensure the economic development for blacks in Detroit and a legacy throughout the world.”

Unfortunately, Jackson and Barden’s plan did not work; they might have been able to save the city of Detroit and its large Black community which lived mostly in poverty.

During the years 2003-05 the tabloids and the media trashed Jackson and tore down his life. The big question was if he would sell his catalogs! Please read two “articles” to see the media’s sabotage and the joy of the Jackson’s enemies.

Please notice how they use (as usual) clichés to tag MJ. In the second tabloid article, we read that the publishing industry wanted to get into the music industry by buying music publishing rights; Jackson was their best target. As we know, MJ’s lawyers especially John Branca advised him to keep his assets.

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/02/13/1076548198709.html?from=storyrhs

Jack(son) going broke

February 13, 2004

Troubled pop star Michael Jackson is reportedly teetering on the brink of personal insolvency, but finding it hard to get new loans.

Citing close financial advisers, The New York Times reports said Jackson faced an “immediate cash crisis” over a $89 million loan that becomes due on Tuesday and which he has no money to repay.

Over the long term, the advisers said the child molestation charges leveled against Jackson, and allegations that the black separatist group Nation of Islam is helping run his affairs, were scaring off banking creditors.

At least two groups of investors have backed out of proposed business deals with Jackson because of the molestation charges, which have also hurt the singer’s ability to earn income from records or concert tours, the newspaper said.

Jackson faces a trial on seven counts of performing lewd and lascivious acts with a 13-year-old boy. Each charge carries a prison sentence of between three and eight years.

Jackson’s most valuable asset is the Beatles catalogue he owns jointly with Sony Music Entertainment as part of the ATV Music Publishing catalogue, with an estimated value of more than $1 billion.

State financial filings in California show the extent of Jackson’s debt to the Bank of America.

On top of the $89 million loan, there is another $254 million loan guaranteed by the ATV music catalogue. The Jackson advisers who spoke to the Times said the singer was leveraged for an additional $317 million to buy other music libraries by other stars.

Despite the extremely vulnerable state of his finances, the newspaper quoted close Jackson associates as saying he was spending about $2.5 million a month.

– AFP

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-351502/Will-Jacko-forced-sell-Beatles-fortune.html#ixzz2uTYCImhU

 Will Jack(son) be forced to sell his Beatles’ fortune?

Last updated at 12:56 08 June 2005

As jurors weigh Michael Jackson’s guilt in his child molestation trial, music industry executives and bankers have been weighing a separate, but related question: Will Jackson have to sell his $500million stake in the Beatles’ music catalogue?

Jackson bought the publishing rights to the catalogue for about $48million two decades ago at the height of his career.

But these days, according to testimony at his trial, the self-proclaimed King of Pop is deep in debt at a time when investment interest in the income-spinning property of his storied collection of song rights is strong, industry experts said.

Many believe that Jackson will have to sell his stake in the catalogue if he is found guilty and say even an acquittal could prove to be a catalyst for a deal.

The Beatles songs are jointly owned by Jackson and Sony Corp through Sony/ATV Music Publishing company.

Attorney John Branca and music publisher Charles Koppelman, who are among Jackson’s changing cast of advisors and lawyers, did not return calls seeking a comment.

Industry sources said Jackson had more recently looked to billionaire financier Ron Burkle for advice. Burkle declined comment.

The Sony/ATV catalogue also includes songs like Bob Dylan’s classic Blowin’ in the Wind and the works of artists such as Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks.

A spokeswoman for Sony ATV declined to comment, but many industry observers expect Sony is waiting for the opportunity to buy out Jackson.

One source close to Sony, however, said no deal appeared to be imminent.

Jackson and former Beatle Paul McCartney collaborated during the 1980s on various songs when the pop star got the idea to buy the copyrights.

Conglomerate ATV had in 1969 purchased Northern Songs, a publishing company established by the Beatles. The catalog included some 4,000 songs, including more than 200 Beatles tunes, worth an estimated two-thirds of the catalogue’s value.

ATV was then owned by the late Australian tycoon Robert Holmes a Court, whose company, Bell Group, negotiated with Jackson for 10 months before striking a deal in August 1985.

In 1995, Jackson cut his stake to 50 percent after merging ATV with Sony’s publishing. Jackson also has a 50-percent stake in new songs added to the catalogue.

“I’ve heard the rumors he’s trying to raise cash and Sony probably would have the right of first refusal and would be first in line to buy if he chose to sell,” said Owen Sloane, an entertainment lawyer who was involved in the original 1985 deal on behalf of ATV.

Accountant John Duross O’Bryan testified for the prosecution at Jackson’s trial that the 46-year-old star had steadily borrowed against his holdings and not paid his share of Sony’s continuing investment.

Jackson would have to pay off about $200million in loans securing the catalogue, he said.

Those loans, first provided by Bank of America, were sold in the past month to New York private equity fund, Fortress Investment Group, sources familiar with the matter said.

Fortress was unavailable for comment, but if Jackson defaulted on the loans, the fund would be in a position to seize control of Mijac, the company that controls copyrights to Jackson’s songs.

A source familiar with the matter said bankers at Fortress were currently renegotiating terms of the loans with Jackson to extend their expiration beyond the current deadline of December, which would give Jackson greater flexibility.

“They want to have a long-term relationship,” the source said.

While physical CD sales have been declining with the explosion of digital distribution, publishing rights have grown in value as songs are being licensed for everything from movies to cell-phone ringtones to video games.

“One of the things that is going on is that investment bankers are getting more into the field, because music publishing is one of the few assets – it is an annuity – that’s not going away and only getting more valuable with ringtones and such,” said Mike Sigman, president of Major Songs, a music publishing company.

Last part will come soon!

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