Plans for a three-city exhibition of Michael Jackson memorabilia could be derailed by suspicion and distrust among Jackson’s mother, the men Jackson named as executors of his will and the promoter of his planned comeback concerts.
A judge delayed his approval of the exhibition agreement between concert promoter AEG Live and the Jackson estate until Friday, when he will hear testimony about why Katherine Jackson thinks it should be renegotiated. Questions surrounding Michael Jackson’s death and AEG Live’s role in his last days are an “obvious source of tension” as Katherine Jackson objects to the agreement, Jackson attorney Burt Levitch said. Michael Jackson’s family has “floated” the possibility of filing a wrongful-death lawsuit against AEG Live because of its “very, very active role in Michael’s life during the last six months,” Levitch said Monday. Levitch said AEG Live “apparently paid for the services of Dr. Conrad Murray, who we’re told is under criminal investigation in connection with the decedent’s death.” Warrants used to search Murray’s home and clinics indicated police were investigating his role in Jackson’s June 25 death. A source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that Murray gave the anesthetic propofol to Jackson in the 24 hours before he died. “There’s an obvious link between AEG and concerns that we have about the decedent’s demise,” Levitch said. “So, that’s one obvious source of tension right now.”
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Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff set a November trial date to hear Katherine Jackson’s potential challenge of John Branca and John McClain, who were named as executors in Michael Jackson’s 2002 will. Katherine Jackson has proposed that she or one of her children be added as an executor. “We think it’s important for the family to have a seat at the table,” Levitch said. “It’s not just a matter of making a quick buck here.” A Jackson family member would be in the best position to guide Michael Jackson’s legacy, he said. Beckloff delayed a decision until Friday on Katherine Jackson’s objection to the agreement made by Branca and McClain, who are serving for now as special administrators of the estate, to allow AEG Live to produce a Michael Jackson exhibition. Jackson lawyers argued in Monday’s hearing that the 50-50 split of profits for the exhibition was too generous to AEG Live, but estate lawyers said they negotiated the best terms possible. AEG Live lawyer Kathy Jorrie said any further delay in approval would cause the company to abandon the deal and the company would not renegotiate. AEG Live would hold the exhibition just as a documentary about Jackson’s last months hits theaters at the end of October. “It’s important to the world that we present them with the memorabilia at the time the movie is released,” Jorrie said. The judge has approved a merchandizing agreement and the movie deal, both of which were adjustments to the contract Jackson signed with AEG Live earlier this year for a string of 50 comeback concerts that were to start last month in London. Estate lawyer Howard Weitzman said canceling the exhibition deal could cost the Jackson estate $5 million.