Jackson's Life - and Death - a Spectacle
"I wish Michael could be here to see all this," Joe Jackson, Michael Jackson's father, has said.
The headliner in "all this:" a brewing, complicated, sordid mud fight over what, and how much, the "King of Pop" left behind - and to whom. The greatest confusion centers on Jackson's will - or wills. The singer's attorney says he has one. The singer's family says one will be filed in court- and that others are likely to come out of the woodwork.
"You don't know, there could be competing wills here," said Andrew Katzenstein, a lawyer with expertise in estate management. "In California, if you write something out on a piece of paper and sign your name to it, that can count as a will."
"What we know is that a will apparently does exist that was written up for Michael, and we understand by his lawyer John Prank in 2002," said J. Randy Taraborrelli, a Jackson biographer." What we're hearing is that Michael made provisions for his mother, for his children and for certain charities. And we're also hearing that his father is not mentioned in the will."
Jackson's Will Revealed
All this confusion, a continuation of the bedlam set loose over the last six days by Jackson's sudden death: the spontaneous crowds, the instantaneous controversy over two as-yet inconclusive coroner's reports - one by the county, one for the family, and controversy over the singer's alleged prescription drug abuse, reported as fact in tabloids around the world.
"I think it's safe to say that since the 1980s, Michael Jackson has been addicted to different prescriptions off and on at different times," Taraborrelli said. "You know, he's been under a lot of stress, under a lot of pain for a long time."
Q&A: Taraborrelli On Jackson's Illnesses
And now controversy over his personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, who was with Jackson when he collapsed. The LAPD called Dr. Murray in for questioning over the weekend. They say he's not a criminal suspect. The family says the promoter of Jackson's planned concerts in London hired Dr. Murray. The promoters insist he was Michael Jackson's choice.
"Michael said to me that my body is the body that fuels the business," said Randy Phillips, an AEG promoter. "I want a doctor 24-7 like President Obama."
But now the court is center stage. On June 29, Jackson's mother, Katherine, got a judge to appoint her special administrator of her son's estate. Court documents outline a tangled legal mess: numerous bank accounts that are in the control of third parties, confusion over who controls Jackson's stake in the Sony-ATV music publishing catalogue, including works of the Beatles said to be of "tremendous value." But Jackson also had tremendous debt, $500 million by some accounts - plenty to keep the courts busy for years figuring it all out.
"There are going to be legal struggles on a number of levels," Katzenstein said. "His estate would pass equally to his three kids. The thing that is so interesting about that to me is the kids would get it when they are 18 years old, so there could be a significant amount of money landing in the hands of 18-year-old kids, which for those of you that are parents, you know that's not always a great idea."
Another court battle looms over custody of Michael Jackson's three young children. Jackson's mother also got the court to grant her temporary custody of 12-year-old Michael Joseph Jr.; Paris Michael Katherine, 11; and 7-year-old Prince Michael, ll. Attorneys for Jackson's former wife, Debbie Rowe, the mother of the older two children, say she is considering challenging Katherine Jackson for custody.
"This is where they belong," Joe Jackson has said. "We are the parents … We love those kids, too."
"All we can really know is that this promises to be a big drama in weeks and months to come if Katherine Jackson and Debbie Rowe both decide that they want those children," Taraborelli said.
Michael Jackson was rehearsing for his big comeback the night before he died. Now, the London promoters and the Jackson family are talking about staging a huge tribute concert for the "King of Pop," with performances by his brothers who shot to fame with him four decades ago in the Jackson 5, and his one-time superstar sister, Janet Jackson.
But the biggest show is likely to be the funeral for Michael Jackson, reportedly shaping up to be a several day event with a motorcade from Hollywood to Neverland, a private service and a public service.
"When I suggested to someone in the family that there might be 100,000 people, the answer was 'What are you talking about? We're hearing that there might be as many as one million people,'" said Brian Oxman, a former Jackson attorney. "When you hear those astronomical numbers that there might be a million people turn out, you just kind of go, 'Whoa, is that possible?' And lo and behold, for all we know, it's highly possible."
For Michael Jackson, the show must go on. His family and the public demand it.
Michael Jackson: Picking Up the Pieces:
A Spectacle In Life & Death
The Delicate Question Of Identity
Jackson Expert On His Illnesses
Jackson's Financial Empire
Jackson's Legacy: Passing the Torch
Spike Lee's Memories
Randy Jackson On Michael's Magic
Sharpton Salutes Michael Jackson
A Ginuwine Fan
Tribute At the Apollo
On Stage With Michael Jackson
MTV: Michael Jackson Remembered
- Unraveling the lies of Jodi Arias
- The mind of a killer: Unraveling the lies of Jodi Arias
- The War in Chicago
- Murder at Sea?
- Over the Edge
- Everything to Lose
- Extra: Meeting Jodi Arias
- The real story behind Miami's murderous Sun Gym gang
- Murder at Sea? The disappearance of George Smith
- Muscle and Mayhem
- Why is Jodi Arias smiling in her mugshot?
- Did California chef David Viens kill, then cook wife?
- "48 Hours Mystery:" Rodney Alcala's Killing Game
- "48 Hours" Program Schedule
- My Dad's Killer
- The Writing on the Wall