August 10, 2009
Posted: 04:30 PM ET
By Alan Duke
California (CNN) - A judge has delayed at least for a few hours his consideration of deals involving the Michael Jackson estate while he considers if he should appoint a lawyer to represent Jackson's three children.
Lawyers for the pop singer's estate and the companies involved in the deals warned a delay beyond Monday could cost the estate millions and derail plans for a documentary of the pop singer's last days.
Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, raised objections Monday morning to contracts between her son's estate and concert promoter AEG Live and merchandiser Bravado.
Even as Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff was saying he may wait another week to approve the deals, Sony Pictures issued a news release Monday announcing it would deliver the movie - "This Is It" - to theaters starting October 30 "with the full support of The Estate of Michael Jackson."
Beckloff said he is concerned that the interests of the minor children - which he said may not be the same their grandmother's - were not being represented. He said he may appoint a guardian ad litum to represent the children.
Beckloff adjourned the hearing until the afternoon to allow more time for lawyers to settle their differences. He indicated he may close the afternoon hearing to reporters because confidential information about the contracts may be discussed.
Katherine Jackson was appointed last week as the guardian for the children, but she was not made the guardian for their interest in her son's estate.
Lawyers for AEG Live and Bravado warned the judge that the estate stands to lose money if approval of the deals, which include a feature film about Jackson, is delayed beyond Monday.
"The longer we wait, the more time passes, frankly, the less interest there will be on the part of the public to come see it," said Kathy Jorrie, a lawyer for AEG Live.
The judge has already approved - without objection from Katherine Jackson - a contract to allow Columbia Pictures to produce the documentary about Jackson's last days. Columbia is a division of Sony Pictures.
That film, however, cannot be made unless the judge also approves the contract with AEG Live, which possesses the many hours of video of Jackson's last rehearsals, according to estate lawyer Howard Weitzman.
Jorrie told Beckloff that AEG Live has already made many concessions to the estate and could not make more. She suggested the company might walk away from the deals if they are asked to make more changes, as demanded by Katherine Jackson.
Weitzman told the judge the deals were "aggressively negotiated and reflect the exhaustion of all parties on give and take, and greatly benefit the estate."
"I don't believe there is room for more negotiation," he said.
Beckloff has previously said he may approve them even if Katherine Jackson objects.
Jermaine Jackson, Michael Jackson's older brother, told CNN's Larry King last week that he likes the deals, which he said could bring nearly $100 million into the estate.
The Sony announcement said the film "will be drawn from hundreds of hours of rehearsal and behind-the-scenes footage, captured in high definition with state-of-the-art digital sound as the late singer was preparing for his concert series in London."
"The film, which will also offer select sequences in 3-D, will provide a unique career retrospective and feature interviews with some of Jackson's closest friends and creative collaborators," Sony said.
The news release, which was apparently written before the judge's delay, included a quote from John Branca, one of two men appointed by the court as temporary administrators of Jackson's estate.
"Our goal is to work with partners who treat Michael's legacy with dignity and respect, while allowing us to substantially build the value of his estate for the benefit of Mrs. Katherine Jackson, Michael's three children and the charitable causes that meant so much to him during his life," Branca said.
Branca, who was Jackson's lawyer for several years, and John McClain, a music executive and longtime Jackson friend, were named in Jackson's will as executors. Katherine Jackson is considering a challenge of their control of the estate.
Filed under: Michael Jackson
From around the web
Go Behind The Scenes
LARRY KING LIVE'S Emmy-winning Senior Executive Producer Wendy Walker knows what it takes to make a great story.
With anecdotes, provocative emails, scandals, show transcripts and insights into Walker's long working relationship with Larry King, her new book PRODUCER issues readers an invitation to listen in on the most intriguing conversations on the planet.