Posts Tagged ‘Tohme Tohme’

Eyes Opened and No Turning Back

April 2, 2013

Gasp! Michael once wore pajama bottoms to court (not by choice) and had a pet chimpanzee. If necessary AEG will refer to Michael’s “eccentricities” in order to defend itself in the Katherine Jackson v. AEG civil trial. (Shameful but not surprising considering all that has happened.) The 2005 molestation trial also is pertinent to the promoter’s case, according to AEG lawyer Marvin Putnam because “it resulted in an incredible increase in his drug intake”.


Although Michael’s contractual obligations to AEG aren’t the focus of the trial, AEG would be hard-pressed to find anything, including pictures of Michael buying drugs from a one-armed pimp in a needle strewn alley, that tops the injustice in the contract on Michael–written testament to what AEG and those Michael trusted really thought of him.

And Randy Phillips’ apparent lack of decency and humanity:

“Michael’s death is a terrible tragedy, but life must go on. AEG will make a fortune from merch sales, ticket retention, the touring exhibition and the film/dvd,” Phillips wrote to a concert business colleague in August, adding, “I still wish he was here!”

It’s a wonder Michael wasn’t wearing a straightjacket by June 2009.

“If you are in the creative arts business, you are going to be involved with individuals who have a great many problems,” said AEG attorney Marvin Putnam. “Michael Jackson was an adult and … it is supercilious to say he was unable to take care of his own affairs.”

How many celebrities does Putnam know who take care of their own affairs? That’s what they hire other people to do. How many employees hired by Michael wound up being paid by AEG? Reminded that their checks came from AEG?

Was Michael such a mess when he began talks with AEG? If so, why did the company agree to get involved with him? While AEG searched for witnesses and evidence of past drug abuse by Michael, did it consider that its employees yelled at, administered tough love to, and pushed a man it believes had “a great many problems” instead of halting rehearsals and getting him help (apart from Murray)? What kind of company contractually obligates someone who is incapacitated? AEG can’t have it both ways—Either it believed Michael was addicted before starting talks with him and negotiating a contract in which AEG is highly favored, or Michael showed no signs of addiction and AEG is backpedaling in search of a defense.

April 2, 2013— Katherine Jackson v. AEG begins. Judge hears arguments for tv cameras in the courtroom before jury selection begins in the morning.

Prayers for justice for Michael Jackson, Katherine Jackson, and Michael’s three children have been made. Continued justice until justice is complete.

When all is said and done, AEG,Inc and its companies will not see another dime as far as this blog is concerned. It’s difficult to resume the role of ignorant consumer once enlightened about the ugly side of the entertainment industry. Thanks to Michael for letting the world know he was not happy about the increase in tour dates, AEG’s unprofessional, arrogant and bully representatives (read the emails) and everyone who came forward to inform Michael’s family about what he experienced during the last months of his life. Thanks to members of Michael’s family who refused to look the other way or give up when there was probably pressure and temptation to do so. Thanks to everyone who was not content to accept what they were told and to those of you who let the world know something wasn’t right in the spring of 2009.

Thank you to whoever leaked the AEG emails.


It has been this blog’s opinion that AEG was not only complicit in the financial, emotional, and physical mistreatment of Michael Jackson but played a major role. The company and its representatives had to know they had Michael between a rock and a hard place when lack of money and huge debts reportedly were two catalysts responsible for Michael agreeing to perform again. Michael’s financial situation led him to make hurried decisions, including hiring Tohme Tohme and signing with AEG; and ended with him being financially dependent on AEG.

Why would AEG present such a severely one-sided, piece of crap contract to Michael Jackson unless it knew it had the advantage?

AEG emails:

“We are holding all the risk,” Gongaware wrote to Phillips. “We let Mikey know just what this will cost him in terms of him making money…. We cannot be forced into stopping this, which MJ will try to do because he is lazy and constantly changes his mind to fit his immediate wants.”

“He is locked. He has no choice … he signed a contract,” Gongaware wrote.

Pressed by another promoter about Jackson’s ability to deliver, Phillips shot back in an email, “He has to or financial disaster awaits.”

Conflict of interest:

Tohme Tohme and Dennis Hawk are addressed in correspondence regarding the AEG contract and letter of credit. Michael Jackson’s money problems were “relieved” when AEG began advancing money to him for expenses incurred as a result of the 02 shows and for personal expenses. In 2010, Leonard Rowe wrote that AEG’s monetary advancement included payments to Michael’s manager Tohme Tohme. AEG held the purse strings, so who paid Dennis Hawk for his services?

Can there be a satisfactory explanation? Maybe Tohme and Hawk didn’t read the contract.

But, wait a minute…Tohme was brought in specifically to help solve Michael’s financial troubles. Knowing Michael’s circumstances, shouldn’t he (and Hawk) have foreseen the resulting financial, emotional and psychological toll it would have on Michael if he didn’t fulfill his end of the agreement, anticipate the stress and pressure placed on Michael as a result of the contract terms, or the physical results of stress? The deplorable AEG contract is evidence that Michael wasn’t well represented when it was drafted or signed.

And Paul Gongaware is incorrect: AEG was not holding all the risk. The company would have either benefited handsomely from the shows’ receipts and monies owed by Michael, or it would have gained by becoming owner of Michael’s music catalogues had he forfeited his responsibility. After Michael’s death, AEG found a way to recoup its losses and prosper from “This Is It” rehearsal footage while continuing to pursue its claim with Lloyd’s of London.

Side bar: In Randall Sullivan’s salute to tabloid tales—sources/notes pages—he writes that Tohme and Hawk (two sources often mentioned in tandem, making it seem like they are physically joined) believed Michael didn’t have a Will at the time of his death. Lovely of the two of them to comment on a Will when neither has explained the abusive AEG contract and why Michael was allowed to sign it. Interestingly, Sullivan also notes that Dennis Hawk was one of several who told him MJ often didn’t look at docs before signing them.

Despite talk of scheming, money hungry Jacksons and Leonard Rowe’s past legal troubles, the only Jackson named in the AEG contract is Michael and Rowe’s name nowhere to be found. Whether Peter Lopez distanced himself from the agreement or was forced out by others, his reputation was spared by not taking part in the assault on Michael.

What exactly does one call AEG’s action of pursing its insurance claim with Lloyd’s of London while having knowledge of emails contradicting public comments made by its executives regarding Michael’s health and well-being? Attempted fraud? Fraud? Deception? If those emails had not been leaked and AEG received money from Lloyd’s of London, wouldn’t the act be considered a felony? (AEG dropped its claim after emails were released) End side bar


Michael and Conrad Murray were both financially strapped men employed by a company that held the money cards:

CNN reported that AEG Live co-CEO Paul Gongaware wrote an e-mail saying the company wanted to use the $150,000 monthly salary of Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, to pressure him into letting Jackson rehearse despite medical concerns.

“We want to remind (Murray) that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary,” CNN quotes Gongaware as writing. “We want to remind him what is expected of him.”


Katherine Jackson v. AEG (Counts Dismissed by Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos)


(FRAUD and CONSTRUCTIVE FRAUD as against AEG and DOES 1-75)



The SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION was not dismissed

70 Plaintiffs hereby incorporate all preceding paragraphs as though fully incorporated herein.


72 For the reasons stated above, AEG owed legal duties to Michael Jackson to behave reasonably toward him

73 AEG was aware that Michael Jackson was not physically well and was having serious problems attending rehearsals for the show

74 AEG chose to hire and employ a physician, Murray, to exclusively treat Michael Jackson and require that Jackson accept treatment from him with the goal being to get him to the shows

75 In undertaking to hire Murray, AEG performed absolutely no diligence in investigating or checking out Murray’s background, specialties, ability, or even whether he was insured, which it had a duty to do. In choosing to hire and employ a physician to treat Jackson, AEG undertook to act, and it needed to do so reasonably. AEG did not act reasonably and breached its duty.

76 During the course of Murray’s treatment, it became clear to AEG that Jackson was not doing well at all. AEG did nothing to terminate Murray and instead negligently retained him as an employee and in so doing violated its duty of care. AEG insisted that Jackson continue treatment with MURRAY and receive no treatment from other physicians, a further breach of its duty of supervision.

77 Indeed, AEG instructed its employee Murray to do whatever it took to make sure Jackson attended rehearsals and shows, in other words Murray was instructed not to look out for Jackson’s best interests, but rather to do whatever medical procedures were calculated to get Jackson to perform. The terms of Murray’s employment with AEG were such as to heighten the risks to Jackson. AEG paid Murray excessively and made the purpose of his employment that Jackson attend rehearsals. AEG knew or should have know that these terms of employment were likely to pose an unacceptable level of risk of Jackson’s health and safety. This is not a proper way to oversee a physician employee from whom AEG was requiring Michael Jackson accept treatment. By so doing, AEG breached its duty to Jackson to hire, retain, and supervise Murray in a reasonable matter.

78 AEG also was negligent in supervising Murray in that Murray had specifically requested a full-time nurse and Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation equipment for the treatment of Jackson and AEG had agreed to so provide that equipment. AEG did not provide that equipment and accordingly breached its duty of care to Michael Jackson.

79 The AEG defendants and DOES 1-75 were involved in a civil conspiracy to commit these wrongs against Michael Jackson

80 AEG’s breach of its duty to Michael Jackson directly and proximately caused Michael Jackson’s physical injuries and his ultimate death, resulting in economic and non-economic damages to Plantiffs.



AEG emails and lawyer quote

Katherine Jackson v. Complaint for Damages

Michael put on trial in Katherine Jackson v. AEG/ Judge to hear argument for tv cameras in courtroom


The Michael Jackson Estate and Tohme Tohme Are Suing Each Other

May 8, 2012

Encouraged by news of the Michael Jackson estate’s lawsuit against Tohme Tohme. Raised an eyebrow as I read about the complaint. (which reminded me of something I’d read about John Branca)

Michael Jackson also signed various attorney retainer agreements with his law firm from 1993 to 1995. In those agreements Branca took five percent of the proceeds of Michael Jackson’s businesses and performances, and then, without further entitlement, a five percent ownership in Michael’s Sony/ATV Catalogue royalties, all of which were the subject matter of his representation.

These contracts for representation not only constitute a conflict of interest, but also violate Branca’s duty as a lawyer by taking an interest in the subject matter of the representation without his client’s authorization. Michael told me, in 2004 that his Sony/ATV Catalogue was valued in excess of $1 billion. A 5% interest represents $50 million. There was no conflict of interest disclosure in the retainer agreement. Michael did not have independent counsel to review this transaction. Branca’s representation thereafter was tainted by the continued conflicts of interests and concealment of his actions that allowed him to continue taking advantage of Michael.

In April 2006, Michael Jackson paid Branca $15 million to get back his five percent interest in the Sony/ATV Catalogue. (What Really Happened to Michael Jackson – Leonard Rowe)

In his defense, Tohme Tohme apparently is still carrying on about helping Michael’s career. (no mention of mj’s catalogues becoming collateral on a promissory note in his contract with AEG)

Filing a complaint against Tohme Tohme is a good move. Criminal charges should follow.


…Both sides present different pictures about how the “King of Pop” attempted to get his career back on track. At stake is at least 15 percent of the hundreds of millions of dollars earned since Jackson died on June 25, 2009.

The estate, now run by entertainment lawyer John Branca and music industry veteran John McClain, agree that Tohme played a big role in the last year of Jackson’s life. But according to their complaint, Tohme’s goals were mostly selfish. “With no oversight or supervision,” says the lawsuit, “Tohme quickly set about to and did install a far-reaching and very lucrative financial package for himself obtained as a result of a manifest breach of fiduciary duties.”

Tohme, of course, paints a different picture in his own complaint. “At the time Tohme began working with Michael Jackson in 2008, Michael Jackson’s personal and financial affairs were in turmoil,” his lawsuit reads. “Through Tohme’s advice, guidance, and skillful work, Michael Jackson’s public image was greatly improved, he was returned to the public eye as the ‘King of Pop,’ and was positioned to sign the agreements with AEG Live for the historic shows at London’s 02 Arena which led to the documentary concert film, ‘This Is It!’ and, ultimately, millions of dollars for the Jackson Estate.”

Who exactly is Tohme Tohme?

The Estate presents him as a character who had no experience whatsoever as a personal manager for any artist by the time he began working for Jackson in 2008.

Tohme himself doesn’t offer much background either, but traces his work for Jackson back to a dispute that erupted between the singer and Sheikh Abdullah of Bahrain, whose music label had signed Jackson to an exclusive production agreement. The relationship between Jackson and the Prince of Bahrain went south and for several years in the middle part of the last decade, Jackson wasn’t able to create anything new as the two were in court with each other. Tohme says that he personally stepped in here, flying to Bahrain to make peace, which he says led to a settlement agreement.

Afterwards, Tohme assumed his role as Jackson’s personal manager. Much of his work involved housing, loans and coordinating media appearances. One piece of work — efforts to save Jackson’s beloved Neverland Ranch — is important to both lawsuits.

Tohme, repped by LA law firm Sheppard Mullin, says that the home was on the verge of foreclosure, and that at Jackson’s request, he supervised negotiations of the contracts for the buyout of the loan to prevent foreclosure. Specifically, he talked to many lending institutions before eventually getting Colony Capital to agree to provide $23 million in financing. For the work, Tohme says he was promised a 10 percent loan finder’s fee, or $2.3 million.

The estate agrees that Tohme was promised in writing a finder’s fee, but also says that Jackson signed the documents without getting a full explanation of what he was doing, without having the benefit of an arm’s length negotiation, and without having an independent legal advisor. The estate maintains that Tohme had many conflicts in his various duties, that Colony reaped a tremendous deal, and that Tohme placed his interests above Jackson’s.

Similar allegations are made to the “Services Agreement” that Jackson signed with Tohme on July 2, 2008, which formalized the relationship between the singer and his personal manager. For services that included event management, maintaining licensing agreements, coordinating payments, and managing housing and personal business affairs, Tohme was to get “15 percent of all gross compensation” of Jackson’s various endeavors.

Again, the estate says the deal happened without independent legal advice, an arm’s length negotiation, or an explanation of what the singer was signing. Instead, Jackson signed the deal, according to the estate, because he trusted that Tohme wouldn’t lead him to a deal that held provisions that “far exceed normal and customary terms for personal managers, and particularly managers with Tohme’s complete lack of experience for any artist, let alone an artist comparable to Jackson.”

Tohme might have gotten more for his services, but he says that he did quite a bit for Jackson during his last days. He says he was instrumental in doing the work that led to the AEG “This Is It!” concert series, that he negotiated and completed a contract for Broadway and cartoon adaptations of “Thriller,” that he oversaw royalty examinations, that he approved licensing agreements, worked with lawyers to resolve trademark issues, worked on re-releases, played an instrumental role in the implementation of Michael Jackson’s website, and much more.

Having completed those services, Tohme feels he’s entitled to the 15 percent commission, which includes a cut of the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been earned in the years since the singer died. He’s also seeking his finder’s fee from the Neverland loan, and wants the estate to submit to an accounting.

Meanwhile, the estate says that Tohme’s power grab finally became too much for Jackson before the singer’s death. Not only did Tohme enter into a “Services Agreement” with Jackson, he also got his client to hand over power of attorney and also had him sign an indemnity agreement. With those powers, Tohme allegedly executed the transfer of copyright interests in artwork to charities and took possession and control over some of Jackson’s property.
In March, 2009, Jackson terminated Tohme, according to the estate.
In their lawsuit against Tohme, Branca and McLain seek to “unwind the self-serving and unconscionable agreements,” recover property, and gain damages from breaches of fiduciary duty.

Tohme is responding in part by suing the executors of the estate for breaching the indemnity agreement. (article source)

I hope everyone is well.

Bamboozle, Flim Flam, Shakedown, Chicanery, Swindle, Con, Hocus-Pocus, Hoodwink, Scam, Hustle, Racket, Misrepresentation, Sham

December 13, 2011

Admiration detour for Lana Wood who continues to seek justice for her sister, Natalie, after 30 years.

I had told Michael on numerous occasions that Randy Phillips presented himself as the second coming of “Mother Theresa”. But I begged Michael not to believe it, because he was anything but that. – Leonard Rowe, What Really Happened to Michael Jackson…

Some people still choose to believe that Michael tricked Paul McCartney when he acquired the ATV Catalog. No. Paul McCartney had the chance to bid on it and declined. Michael Jackson saw a business opportunity and went for it. He didn’t fool Paul McCartney or steal the catalogue from him. He bought it.

Now, imagine it’s 1992, and Paul McCartney bid on the catalog and has owned it for over a decade. Paul invested wisely, but it’s been more than 12 years since Wings’ last tour, and he celebrated his 50th birthday in June.

During the hiatus, Paul suffered financial difficulties resulting from a barrage of lawsuits. He also was accused of hurting people he tried to help (one charge resulting in an emotionally and physically draining trial), and had to deal with untrustworthy staff and “friends.” Members of the press focused on negative stories, even inventing some of their own, instead of his charitable contributions. The latest news is that, at 50 years old, he has to return to the stage because of personal debt. He has been through a lot, both professionally and personally.

For weeks, Paul’s financial adviser (who McCartney believes works in his best interests) has been negotiating a deal with an attorney (not McCartney’s personal attorney) and concert promoter Michael Jackson. McCartney turned down Jackson’s offers of a “come back” tour a few of times in the past but was said to have contacted the promoter after almost losing thousands of acres of private land.

Michael Jackson and McCartney’s representative come up with a deal that includes not only the ATV catalog but McCartney’s personal song catalog as collateral on a promissory note attached to the contract. McCartney signs the contract, trusting those he’s hired to represent him.

The public demand to see Paul McCartney perform live again is unprecedented, and Michael Jackson increases the number of performances for a 50 year old who hasn’t toured in over a decade, knowing that if the plug is pulled on the shows, McCartney doesn’t have the money to pay the loan.

Instead of experiencing the excitement of performing again, as McCartney rehearses, he feels the pressures of having to complete the dates or lose his assets.

If that were a true story, Michael’s actions would be sneaky, underhanded, and evil, wouldn’t they? But, we know Michael didn’t attempt to shakedown Paul McCartney when he was vulnerable. Imagine doing something like that.

…However, AEG gets really slick here in this promissory note, because the entire note is collateralized not by Michael Jackson the artist, but by Michael Jackson Company, LLC. Why is this you may wonder? More than likely it is because Michael Jackson’s business holdings, which would include his publishing rights and catalogue, are owned by Michael Jackson Company, LLC and not Michael Jackson, the individual artist. So if the promissory note is for any reason not paid or defaulted upon, the assets of the Michael Jackson Company, LLC get forked over to AEG. In other words, owning Michael Jackson Company, LLC and/or its assets, means owning Michael Jackson. – Leonard Rowe, What Really Happened to Michael Jackson…

Quotes taken from the documentary Michael Jackson: The Life of An Icon.

Michael was an easy touch and anybody could take advantage of him just because he’d trust everybody’s word. – David Gest

Michael would bring random people into his life for business deals. They would offer him the world and Michael would believe them. – Frank Cascio

Michael told me he only committed to 10 shows at the 02 Dome for his come back concerts. When he found out that he was committed to 50 shows, and there was no way of getting out of it, he snapped. He felt like they tricked him – he was put up against the wall and let down by people, or misled, I should say… – Frank Cascio

It was thrown on him by his manager, and in his state of mind, he could’ve said yes to anything. – David Gest

The wear and tear of all the managers and all the promises that they didn’t live up to took its toll. – Frank Dileo

J. Michael Flanagan and Murray spokesman, Mark Fierro, were Pier Morgan’s guest on the day Conrad Murray was sentenced in the death of Michael Jackson (November 29, 2011)

Piers Morgan: I mean, everybody has known about these celebrity doctors, for want of a better phrase, who, for a long time have administered stuff to famous people in their homes within the vicinity of this very studio in Los Angeles.

And, some feel Conrad Murray became a scapegoat for this practice that’s been going on for a long time. Others say Michael Jackson was a fully grown man in his middle age, probably doing this for a while, and should have been responsible for himself. But then, there are the others, many in the medical profession, who say what Conrad Murray did was fundamentally unethical and wrong – No doctor should have done what he did.

Do you accept that?

Mark Fierro: I gotta say this – This is what was fundamentally different about this case: Michael Jackson had backed himself into a corner, and had Conrad Murray walked away for a single day, not only would Michael Jackson been 400 million dollars in debt, he would have lost the catalog – He would have been penniless.

Conrad Murray didn’t know that he was going to die – He knew it wasn’t a perfect set up. But, had he walked for a single day – They’d already been warned: We’ll pull the plug. That’s the end of the tour. Michael Jackson was living in a rented home – Had Conrad Murray walked away from his friend for one day, Michael Jackson would’ve been penniless. Would he have been alive today? I don’t know. He had been chasing that Propofol thing for a long time.


What is fundamentally different about this case: He would have lost the catalog. They’d already been warned: We’ll pull the plug. That’s the end of the tour.

If Michael was backed into a corner, he didn’t put himself there.

As for the rest of Fierro’s statement: He reps Murray, and Murray plans to appeal. Chase that. 🙂

People vs Conrad Murray — Day 17 (Randy Phillips)

November 1, 2011

First of all, I was surprised that AEG didn’t express greater concern about Michael’s death… (LaToya Jackson – ‘Starting Over’)

It was the age of levitations and decapitations, of ghostly apparitions and sudden vanishings, as if the tottering Empire were revealing through the medium of its magicians its secret desire for annihilation. (Eisenheim the Illusionist)

If only Eduard could leap from the pages of a literary tale and produce an image of Randy Phillips which told the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

There was a point in Randy Phillips’ testimony when I was reminded (it was a though the light in the court room became brighter) that what happened to Michael Jackson isn’t entirely about Murray. However, he may be the key to unlocking what lies beneath.

The defense team has my appreciation for calling Randy Phillips to the witness stand, and Ed Chernoff’s line of questioning confirmed for that me that all is not what we are being to believe it is. Chernoff’s job is to keep his client from being convicted, but he opened the door.

Based on Randy Phillips’ testimony, both Michael Amir (alleged references to MJ’s visits to Dr. Klein) and Paul Gongaware (allegedly told Phillips to call Michael about additional shows at 02) should be called back to a witness stand in the future. Include Randy Phillips and Tohme Tohme to the list and add the MJ/AEG contract as evidence.

Dr. Klein’s Demerol injections in 2009: Conrad Murray didn’t keep records of his nightly Propofol treatments and Klein could have done the same.

Randy Phillips said he talked to Murray about MJ’s visits to Dr. Klein and testified about two specific incidents. He also told the court that it was obvious MJ had great trust in Murray and deferred to him regarding health questions.

Did it occur to Phillips that Michael probably had great trust in Dr. Klein as well, or else he wouldn’t have let the dermatologist give him Botox injections in his face? Michael had to Klein’s office for years. It makes one wonder why Phillips didn’t question Murray’s treatment of MJ, particularly since AEG was on track to become Murray’s employer.

If Arnold Klein is guilty of a crime, he should be charged, but both he and Michael have taken hits for Murray in the court room. Why was Phillips eager to point a finger at Klein based on comments allegedly made by Michel Amir Williams?

Michael Amir Williams was officially hired to work for MJ in mid 2007, more than a year before AEG resumed talks with Michael, and more than a year and a half before Michael signed the contract with AEG. Why did Michael Amir tell Phillips about his boss’ visits to Klein?

Randy “the best to my recollection” Phillips

Randy Phillips has been President and CEO of AEG Live for about 9 ½ years. He is responsible for the annual profit and loss statement.

His first encounter with Michael Jackson was in the mid 1990s when he brought the LA Gear endorsement deal, along with another endorsement agent, to John Branca who was MJ’s attorney at the time. Randy reported to John Branca.

Randy lost touch with Michael until 2007. One of his executives received a call from Peter Lopez who was Michael’s attorney in 2007.

In 2007, Paul Gongaware worked for AEG. He was hired to take over management of MJ’s tour in 1996 or 1997.

In 2007, Peter Lopez made contact with John Meglan, a co-CEO with Paul Gongware of AEG’s tour division. Phillips was notified. Peter Lopez made contact on behalf of MJ. Phillips assumed the first meeting would be to talk about the potential of MJ getting back on stage again. AEG would absolutely be interested in that.

Would have been a monumental achievement in 2007 and something AEG would’ve been very interested in, a big sell. He would assume that any entertainment company would be interested in it. He can only speak for AEG.

AEG was approached again in late August 2008. Tom Barrack’s office of Colony Capital contacted Phillips’ office. Tom Barrack is principal in company called Colony Capital.

Barrack contacted Phil Anschutz. Phillips “believes” that Barrack knows Phil Anschutz. Phillips was contacted by Phil Anschutz and had his office set up an appointment for Phillips to meet with Barrack and another partner, Richard Manua (sp?)in Century City.

Last time MJ had a concert: Phillips was no more or less aware than just being in the business. He didn’t do any specific research on his tours.

Chernoff: To your knowledge when was the last time that Michael Jackson had been on stage in concert.

Phillips: I honestly cannot recollect — I’m not sure.

Chernoff: In the 90s?

Phillips: It would be the late 90s I’m sure — yeah, It’s gonna be the 90s.

Initial agreement made with AEG, Michael Jackson, and Michael Jackson Company was for up to 31 shows.

Initially they (AEG) advertised 10 shows — you never as a promoter put all of your shows on sale at same time because it becomes a disincentive for early purchase. This was done right after press conference on March 5, 2009.

After announcement on March 5th, the sales of tickets were fabulous, over top.

Paul Gongaware called Phillips and told him to call MJ about additional shows because the demand was so great. Phillips initially talked to Tohme Tohme about adding 19 shows. Tohme called Phillips back and said MJ would do the 19 additional shows but no more than 50. Tohme would work out schedule with Paul. Twenty minutes later, Michael Amir called Phillips and Phillips spoke to MJ who agreed to do the additional dates based on two conditions: English estate & Guinness Book of Records be present at final show.

Phillips said he had nothing to do with the hiring of Murray. Paul (Gongaware) was engaged.

Meeting in first week of June was first time Phillips met Murray – to the best of his recollection. He had no idea what Murray was doing behind closed doors in regards to treatment of MJ.

Reason for meeting on June 20, 2009 — the week prior there were further missed rehearsals. Randy wasn’t at rehearsals that week but got email sent from Ortega.

Phillips thought meeting was going to be about MJ’s tardiness in attending rehearsals.

Frank Dileo never mentioned concern about drug use by MJ to Phillips.

A voice mail from Frank Dileo was recovered on Murray’s phone. It was date and time stamped for June 20, 2011 @ 7:48am (Los Angeles time).

Dr. Murray, it’s Frank DiLeo, Michael’s manager. (inaudible) Would you please call me at (phone number omitted)? I’m sure you’re aware he had an episode last night. He’s sick. Today’s Saturday. Tomorrow, I’m on my way back. I’m not going to continue my trip. I think he need- I think you need to get a blood test on him today. I-We got to see what he’s doing. All right. Thank you.

“Pulling the plug”/tough love card comments in Ortega’s email: Randy said he didn’t understand the tough love part of it. He wasn’t sure what Kenny was referring to. He understood MJ coming to rehearsal, not feeling well and being sent home. There was concern that MJ wasn’t taking it seriously as it moved closer.

There wasn’t concern that the show couldn’t go on if he didn’t take it more seriously. The concern was that there might have to be postponements if there wasn’t enough technical time to deal with size of production.

Doesn’t know where “pulling the plug” comment came from. No one on AEG’s end was ever contemplating “pulling the plug.”

AEG had a contractual obligation to MJ — pulling the plug was not a unilateral thing and would have to be mutually decided upon by both parties.

Chernoff: MJ was ultimately responsible for the production costs up until June 22, 2009.

Phillips: Yes

Chernoff: Contractually he was responsible for tens of millions … (objection sustained)

Chernoff: AEG had cancellation insurance. (objection sustained)

Phillips asked Murray to set up meeting. Phillips can’t remember if he gave him the reason for the meeting beforehand or if he fwded Ortega’s email.

Phillips was at rehearsal on June 23rd and 24th. Considering the meeting they had on 20th, it would’ve been remiss if he didn’t show up after that meeting on 20th. Make sure things were on track.

On June 25, 2009, Phillips received phone call from Frank Dileo about 10:30 am or 11:00 am that MJ was having trouble breathing and paramedics were at house. The first call he got was from Frank Dileo. It took Phillips about 15 minutes to get to the Carolwood house.

During cross-examination by Prosecutor Walgren, Phillips said he learned MJ was having problems in the morning. After Walgren recounted testimony that the 911 call was placed at 12:20 pm and paramedics left the house after 1:00 pm, Phillips said it could’ve been that time.

From Randy Phillips interview. Article dated October 27, 2009

TW: You had a 15-year relationship with MJ. What does this project mean to you?

RP: It’s more like 20 years — I really miss him. He was a big part of my life. He was infuriating, manic, loving and considerate. Let me tell you a story: Michael had missed two rehearsals … the cast and crew were waiting and he was really late. He hadn’t left his house yet. So I called and yelled at him. We had a fight. He finally got there and I got there a little later. He was sitting in a chair, going over notes. He walked around the table and walked past me. But he didn’t want to be rude so he stopped. Put his arm on my shoulder, tapped it, then walked on. He was mad but he still didn’t want to be impolite. That was Michael.

TW: You were at the hospital when he died? You had to tell the family?

RP: Yes, I arrived before anyone else got there. I was behind him as he got to the hospital. It was horrible and will haunt me for the rest of my life. The social worker and Frank Dileo actually delivered the message to the kids. As I was looking at them, I will never forget the wail — the scream that came out of his mother.

TW: His death was a shock to the world, yet Michael passed the physical to sign on to the tour, as you said, with “flying colors.”

RP: He took the physical in March long before he died. He had a passing bill of health. Michael did not die from ill health, it was a tragic accident.

Taken from Part 2 of same interview

TW: Talk about the energy surrounding the project. There are numerous talented people on board, including choreographer Kenny Ortega. I heard him speak at the MJ Memorial at Staples.

RP: We put the memorial together after the 4th of July. It was a labor of love for Michael. With this project, it’s not about press. He’s not a caricature. This project is entertaining.

TW: Take us back to how you talked MJ out of retirement. How were you able to convince him?

RP: I talked to him/pitched him about a year and a half earlier. He turned me down, but I’m resourceful and relentless. I (eventually) talked him into it. One year and a half later, Tom Berick from Colony Investments, who saved Neverland Ranch, helped him restructure his finances. He approached me and said MJ wanted to talk to me personally. Are you wondering why it’s 31 shows and not 30? Prince did 21 shows [at O2] so he wanted to do more than Prince. He later gave me permission to add 19 more shows on two conditions.

One, English-speaking country so the kids wouldn’t be trapped in the hotel room.

Two, Guinness Book of World Records must be present on the 50th show to memorialize it. Guinness was important to him.

TW: Initially AEG was rumored to lose millions after Michael’s death. You said, quote, “People have speculated that this is going to bankrupt our company. The truth is – it isn’t.” How are you covered?

RP: At the time of his death we’d already spent $33 million on production. No, it’s not the end of the company. Maybe to other companies, but not ours. Our mutual owner is a very wealthy billionaire. People speculated this would be the end, but I knew the value of the content we had. Just didn’t know how to monetize it. I shopped it around to studios and [there was] a bidding war between four studios, Universal, Sony, Paramount and Fox.

TW: Immediately following Michael’s death, there were clips from his rehearsals on the news — all over TV. It was a bit eerie to watch. However, he seemed so real. He wasn’t in a video or in a structured interview. He was a person.

RP: Yes, in this film he is a real person. You are a voyeur. Just a fly on the wall in his life.

From UK Telegraph article dated March 14, 2009

This precise, organisational mastermind has kicked up a global ticketing storm just four months after a high-pitched “yes” was uttered from Jackson’s pinched lips. The pair go back 15 years – they lost touch, but after the promoter joined AEG he made a “hit list” of acts to entice. Jackson was at the top.

“They make out Michael’s finances are much more dire than they are,” Phillips assures me. But he needed the cash, right? “I asked him straight off: why say yes to the tour now? Was it the money? He said: you know what, my kids are old enough now.” Jackson agreed to do 10 dates for AEG, before relenting to 40 more. The star “worships” London, but plans to stay in a country house where his children can play. If any Daily Telegraph readers have a plush rural pad for rent, Phillips wants to know.

He estimates Jackson will make $50m-$100m from the London dates. This could rise to $500m if he does a world tour.

So how much is AEG getting out of this? Phillips laughs. “We’re not in this for the money. We’re taking a huge risk on Michael. Forgetting tickets, the local economy will get $500m.”

Things haven’t gone entirely seamlessly for AEG since they put their money behind Jackson. Most tickets are being sold straight to fans for £50-£75. But AEG claims its premium ticket partner, Viagogo offered seats for re-sale in bulk, allowing touts and other re-sellers to push up prices. A court has now ordered Viagogo to stop selling to anyone not believed to be an individual fan, until a further hearing.

Another potential hitch is that they do not yet have insurance covering Jackson’s appearance at all 50 gigs – but Phillips insists any risk will be worth it.
“If Mike gets too nervous to go on, I’ll throw him over my shoulder and carry him on stage. He’s light enough.”

In recent days, there has been furious speculation about Jackson’s health, which Phillips dismisses. “Making up rumours about Michael Jackson is a cottage industry,” he exclaims. “We were having dinner when I got a Google alert that he had a flesh-eating disease. He was sitting opposite, healthy as ever.”

Among the other urban myths he demolishes: Jacko is not as weird as I may think, but a devoted parent, and though famed for Jesus-like shows, “not a confident person”.

Jackson’s nerves aside, the deal could have been off if Phil Anschutz, the billionaire behind AEG had not taken to him.

“Phil had to give me permission to spend all this money. I joke that I’m going to make him a millionaire – from a billionaire.” Anschutz has been described as prickly, but Phillips says he is “respectful, a good listener and brilliant”.

Anschutz built up his empire from property and launched AEG to take on the force of Live Nation: its corporate nemesis.

“We are under assault by an 800lb gorilla called Live Nation, planning to merge with Ticketmaster. It’s not good, but we are there doing better.”

AEG is certainly putting its all into making the tour superlative. Hiring Kenny Ortega, the man behind High School Musical, booking superstar guest appearances, putting money into a new 3D film of Thriller and developing new technology to make it a historical spectacle.

“Now we have the biggest artist in the world at the best arena in the best city,” Phillips declares, digesting the news that 750,000 tickets have sold out in five hours. He has the satisfied look of a man who has just pulled off an inconceivably ambitious plan.



My father was born in Bayswater, so I’m an Anglophile. But I’m from the US

First job in music

I promoted events at Stanford University, where I studied law, before deciding to go into business

Next big tour

I would love to get ABBA back together

Career highlights

Managing Rod Stewart for years, working with Jim Kerr, Bon Jovi, Prince, Britney, Justin, Take That, Lionel Ritchie, Guns’n’Roses

From LA Times article dated May 30, 2009.

Tohme reached out to Barrack, who said he was initially reluctant to get involved because Jackson had already sought advice from fellow billionaire Ron Burkle, an old friend.

“I said, ‘My God, if Ron can’t figure it out, I can’ figure it out,’ ” Barrack said.

But he was drawn to the deal. He owns a ranch five miles from Neverland, and his sons were among local children Jackson invited over for field days at the ranch. The financier retains close ties to the developer who built Neverland and is friendly with Wesley Edens, the chairman of the property’s debt-holder, Fortress Investment Group.

With the auction of Jackson’s home and possessions just days away, Barrack made the singer a proposition.

“I sat down with him and said, ‘Look . . . we can buy the note and restructure your financial empire,'” Barrack said. But, he told him, “what you need is a new caretaker. A new podium. A new engine.”

Tohme, who acted as Jackson’s manager until recently, recalled the urgency of the situation. “If he didn’t move fast, he would have lost the ranch,” Tohme said. “That would have been humiliating for Michael.”

Jackson and Barrack reached an agreement within seven days. Colony paid $22.5 million and Neverland averted foreclosure.

After buying Neverland, Barrack called his friend Anschutz. Barrack said the prospect of helping Jackson, given his recent criminal case, gave Anschutz, a devout Christian, pause. (Anschutz declined to be interviewed.)

Barrack had spent significant time with Jackson and praised him as “a genius” and devoted father.

Ultimately, Anschutz agreed to put Jackson in touch with Randy Phillips, the CEO of his concert subsidiary.

As the head of AEG Live, Phillips oversees a division that grossed more than $1 billion last year and has negotiated such lucrative bookings as Celine Dion’s four-year, $400-million run in Las Vegas and Prince’s 21 sold-out dates at the O2 Arena in 2007.

Phillips had his eye on Jackson for some time. In 2007, Phillips approached the singer with a deal for a comeback, but Jackson, who was working with different advisors, turned him down. “He wasn’t ready,” Phillips recalled.

AEG has proposed a three-year tour starting in Europe, then traveling to Asia and finally returning to the United States. Although Jackson has only committed to the O2 engagement thus far, Phillips estimates ticket sales for the global concerts would exceed $450 million.

“One would hope he would end up netting around 50% of that,” Phillips said.

Barrack, the man who set Jackson’s comeback in motion, has seen his net worth drop with the financial crisis of the last year. Forbes estimated his wealth at $2.3 billion around the time he met Jackson, but he is now merely a multimillionaire. He said that the economic downturn makes Jackson even more attractive as an investment because his value has been overlooked: In times like this, he said, “finding little pieces of information that others don’t have” is more important than ever.

His company isn’t exposed to any risk by working with Jackson. All the money Colony has put up is backed by the value of Neverland and related assets, he said. If Jackson regains firm financial footing, Barrack’s company could be a partner in future deals. “When he looks back and says, ‘Who took the risk? Who was there?’ I mean, he gets it. So that’s my hope,” Barrack said.

Fans demonstrated their faith in Jackson months ago when they snapped up 750,000 tickets for shows through March 2010 in less than four hours. “We could have done 200 shows if he were willing to live in London for two years,” Phillips said.

Amid the high stakes, Phillips has taken a hands-on approach more reminiscent of his early days as a talent manager for acts including Guns N’ Roses and Lionel Richie than as the company’s chief executive.

In addition to the more than $20 million AEG is paying to produce the shows, the company is putting its reputation on the line for a performer with a track record of missed performances and canceled dates. In a video news conference earlier this month, Phillips acknowledged that the company has only been able to insure 23 of the 50 “This Is It” performances.”In this business, if you don’t take risks, you don’t achieve greatness,” Phillips said.

Phillips said he speaks with Jackson regularly and has closely monitored rehearsals in a Burbank soundstage. In response to questions about his physical condition, especially in light of his previous addiction to prescription painkillers, Phillips said that Jackson passed a rigorous medical examination. Associates also say he adheres to a strict vegetarian diet and works out with a personal trainer.

But the problems that have bedeviled Jackson in the past — infighting, disorganization and questionable advisors — persist.

In an interview last week, Tohme identified himself as the singer’s “manager, spokesman, everything” and spoke about the benefits of dealing with business titans Barrack and Anschutz rather than their “sleazy” predecessors. “Michael Jackson is an institution. He needs to be run like an institution,” Tohme said.

The next day, however, longtime Jackson associate DiLeo claimed he was Jackson’s manager and said Tohme had been fired a month and a half earlier. Tohme denied being fired but declined further comment.

In April, Jackson fired the accounting firm, Cannon & Co., that had worked for him for a year, according to an accountant who worked on his finances. Jeff Cannon of Cannon & Co. said he received a phone call from an assistant of Jackson who said the singer no longer required his services.

Then there is Arfaq Hussain. A British man who met Jackson in the late 1990s, Hussain designed clothing for the performer — including an air-conditioned jacket, a pair of self-adjusting, rhodium-plated shoes and the “Crystal Miracle,” a jacket covered with 275,000 rock crystals — and tried to launch a business selling $75,000 bottles of perfume by trading on Jackson’s name.

In 2002, Hussain was jailed for four months in Britain for charges related to business fraud. Hussain and Jackson recently became reacquainted and the singer hired him as an assistant, DiLeo said.

The woman who was Jackson’s public face during his criminal trial, former manager and spokeswoman Raymone Bain, is pressing a federal breach of contract suit against the singer. Bain claims that Jackson cheated her out of her 10% cut of several business deals, including the AEG concerts. Bain is to ask a judge in Washington, D.C., next month to seize the portion she alleges is hers, citing Jackson’s history of evading creditors.

In his corner office high above Century City, Barrack is sanguine about reports of disharmony.

“You have the same thousand parasites that start to float back in and take advantage of the situation and that has happened a little at the edges,” he said. But, he added, he had confidence in AEG’s ability to keep Jackson focused.

The concerts, Phillips acknowledged, are a do-or-die moment for Jackson.

“If it doesn’t happen, it would be a major problem for him career-wise in a way that it hasn’t been in the past,” he said.

MJ Homicide Investigation Time Machine #7

July 31, 2011

The time machine blogs were started to take a look back at some of what was being written and said right after Michael died. It helps to look back, refresh the memory, and catch something previously missed.

I’m pretty sure this blog is numbered correctly. There are at least six other time machine blogs, but I removed them. They *might* be reposted at a later date. But, what is important is for others to have the chance to review information and come to their own conclusions. If the video of Michael saying he was upset because the promoters booked 50 shows was still up, no one could call it a myth or fairy tale, or say there is no proof Michael said he was only supposed to do 10 shows.

Right after Michael died, there were interviews with Randy Phillips, investigative reporting on Tohme Tohme, and questions raised about both Michael’s contract with AEG and the 2002 Will. People who knew or worked with Michael were talking. Michael’s death was in the news every day. Here we are, more than two years later, and that’s not happening nearly as much, or at all. The reports will probably pick up when Murray’s trial starts, but will they focus primarily on him?

For those who immediately go on the attack and trash Michael’s mother, father, and siblings, accusing them of being greedy, riding Michael’s success, and worse, you’ve forgotten something: When they are interviewed, they are keeping Michael’s murder in the news. (or maybe you do know that.) Call LaToya crazy all you want, but when was the last time employees from CNN or The View called you to do an interview? AND, THAT’S THE POINT, PEOPLE: KEEPING MICHAEL’S MURDER IN THE NEWS. They may not get through to some, but some isn’t every one.

No complaints here about some family members’ cryptic tweets. Have patience and learn to read between the lines. Maybe they’re messing with the paid posters, bloggers, tweeters and opposing camp like the opposition has messed with their family. Besides, some of them are bashed so bad by people with multiple personalities who like to flip on them when they do communicate.

Time Machine #7:

The following is from a NBC report on Tohme Tohme that was broadcast in 2009. It is part of a taped telephone conversation June Gatlin (reported to be his spiritual advisor)had with MJ on September 23, 2008. (It makes you wonder why MJ kept Tohme Tohme around and why he went through with the deal with AEG…besides needing money to get back Neverland and pay debts.)

Michael Jackson: …”there’s a divide between me and my representatives and I don’t talk to my lawyer, my accountant. I talk to him and he talks to them”

June: “That’s not good.”

Michael: “I know it’s not good. I don’t like it. I wanna get somebody in there with him that I know and trust.”

Michael: ” don’t know what’s in my accounts. I don’t know.”

June: “Oh, that’s not good, Michael.”

According to the report, Michael signed a letter, dated May 5, 2009, stating that Tohme R. Tohme no longer represented him. But, Tohme kept trying to do business on Michael’s behalf. Two weeks after Michael died Tohme Tohme told the interviewer that he was still in charge of Michael’s business unless he is
other told not to do so. (The italicized words aren’t mine but sound like what Tohme is saying.)

Tohme Tohme reportedly cut Michael off from his closest friends and family.

June Gatlin: Michael was deathly afraid of him. (TohmeTohme)

Romaine Baine reportedly hired Peter Lopez in 2006. Was he the lawyer Michael referred to in his conversation with June?

Joe Jackson and Leonard Rowe gave Larry King an interview shortly after Michael died.

Larry King’s line of questioning revolves around the possibility of foul play. Leonard Rowe tells Larry that he’s talking about suspicious activity around Michael Jackson and foul play will have to be determined.

(I have no personal knowledge that Michael was an addict, but Leonard Rowe raises an interesting point when talking about Murray being in Michael’s home.)

Leonard Rowe: There was a doctor in the house with Michael Jackson– the healthy Michael Jackson– the Michael Jackson that AEG said was in perfect health. A doctor was put in the house with Michael Jackson and he was paid a large sum of money per month.

Larry King: To do what? To take care of him, right?

Leonard Rowe: Yeah, but why would you put–why do someone that’s completely healthy, as they say, need someone to take care of them? I consider myself–I consider myself healthy, Larry. I don’t have a doctor living with me. Do you have one living with you?

Larry: So, you’re implying foul play by sending a doctor there?

Leonard: No, Larry. Let me say this to you. Michael Jackson was addicted. Do you understand that? We all know that. It’s not a secret. Uh, would you put a cocaine seller in the house with a cocaine addict? No, you wouldn’t do that.

Larry: Are you saying they put a cocaine seller in the house–the doctor was selling cocaine?

Leonard: I didn’t say that, Larry. But, he was able to write–he was able to administer drugs. Do you understand that?

Larry: I understand. Hold on, Leonard (Larry asks Joe Jackson a question)

Later in the interview, Larry King reads a statement from AEG’s President/CEO Randy Phillips regarding the 02 show dates:

Our original agreement with Michael Jackson called for 31 shows. It was our option as the promoter to only announce the first 10 concerts, knowing that based on the response to presale, we could and would add the additional 21 shows. The presale response was so overwhelming, that we went back to Michael’s representative at the time, Dr. Tohme, to inquire whether Michael would be willing to increase the number of shows. He reported that Michael was willing to increase the number of performances to 50.

Leonard asks Larry if AEG has produced a contract(that backs up the statement). He asks Larry if has a contract and Larry says he doesn’t. But Larry confirms that he has the contract between Michael and Leonard Rowe.

The following is attributed to Tohme Tohme (article dated June 26, 2009):

Dr. Tohme Tohme, a Jackson advisor, said that Los Angeles-based concert promoter AEG Live retained Murray and that the physician arrived in town less than two weeks ago.

Jackson and the rest of the company were set to depart early next week for England.

“I don’t know the exact arrangements, but AEG paid him and he was going to go with [Jackson on tour],” Tohme said of Murray. Tohme said Murray treated Jackson for a cold when the singer was living in Las Vegas last year.

A spokesman for AEG declined to comment.

[Updated at 4:40 p.m.:Tohme said that Jackson selected Murray but that AEG paid the doctor’s bills.]

Tohme Tohme said he didn’t know the exact arrangements but that AEG retained and paid Dr. Murray, He later changed the story. (AEG retained Murray’s services, although MJ reportedly had known him since he lived in Las Vegas. No signed contract, but Randy Phillips admitted to agreeing to Murray because he said Michael was so adamant about it that he gave in.)

So, Tohme Tohme negotiated MJ’s contract with AEG, but wasn’t aware of what was happening between Murray and AEG when it involved his employer? I thought he was taking care of Michael’s day-to-day business.

Now, let’s get this straight: AEG says Tohme was the person asked if Michael would do more shows, and Tohme, was quoted as originally saying AEG retained and paid for Murray. Finger pointing? The truth? Tohme Tohme got quiet in a hurry after Michael died, and disappeared. He also fired Michael’s household staff on the day MJ died. Was AEG cutting salaries to save cost? Maybe AEG used the money saved to hire an editor for the rehearsal footage. (yes, that was sarcasm) Two things happened on the day MJ died: Tohme Tohme fired the staff and Randy Phillips began making plans for the rehearsal footage.

Randy Phillips made similar comments similar to Tohme’s about Murray. The interview was close to Michael’s death, because there is talk of a possible memorial.

Randy said he wasn’t “that involved in the process” and that “outside counsel” was drawing up paperwork. He also told the reporter that Michael said Murray was his personal physician and insisted on having him.

What’s interesting is that neither Tohme Tohme or Phillips have made statements about not being involved in or aware of the arrangements that were made for Michael’s 02 performances.

Again, I’m not accusing AEG of killing Michael. But, if Phillips wasn’t involved in the process, shouldn’t he have been involved with the AEG employee who was? Was he interested in being updated at all? Maybe review the contract before it was signed by either parties? They were going to pay Murray $150,000 a month. That’s a lot of money. After all, Murray was responsible for looking after Michael’s health.

Happy day, everybody!

Tohme Tohme, Dennis Hawk, and Peter Lopez

June 30, 2011

According to The Observer dated March 16, 2008, Peter Lopez confirms that Michel was in talks with AEG Live.

His management is said to be in weekly negotiations with the O2 arena in London to stage a series of concerts later this year – the last offer from AEG Live, the consortium that owns the Millennium Dome, was believed to be a £5m guarantee for 10 nights, with a maximum of 30 nights adding up to £15m. The involvement of Kevin Wall, the Emmy award-winning producer who created the Live Earth music concert and who produced the spectacular ‘Michael Jackson: Live from Bucharest’ in 1992 – a television special that gave the HBO network its highest ever ratings – is apparently also likely. But Jackson is said to be wary of returning to do live shows without having new material to perform. Despite being hotly tipped to appear at the Grammys last month, negotiations floundered at the final hurdle (amid rumours that Jackson demanded to be referred to as the King of Pop throughout the show).

One of the reasons for his no-show is said to be that Jackson has been discussing his future with pop impresario Simon Fuller, the chief executive of 19 Entertainment and creator of Pop Idol, who recently flew to Jackson’s semi-permanent base in Las Vegas. Fuller is understood to be hesitant for Jackson to sign up to any public performance that simply re-hashes old hits, instead looking for more novel ways to return to the public arena. Jackson himself may well want to produce some substantial new material before staging a complete comeback some way down the line.

Increasingly, Jackson’s inner circle is shrinking down to a core group of key advisers. Mindful of having taken bad advice in the past, he now relies on the select counsel of a handful of eminences grises. One of them is the suave Peter Lopez, a highly-regarded entertainment lawyer with excellent Hollywood credentials – he is married to Catherine Bach, the actress best known for playing Daisy Duke in the television series Dukes of Hazzard. Lopez confirms that Jackson is in ‘continued dialogue’ with AEG Live and that there have been a number of ‘informal conversations’ with both Fuller and Wall over the course of the past year. ‘All of these I would categorise as preliminary, ongoing discussions,’ he says, over the phone from his office in Los Angeles. ‘Michael is very excited to be moving forward.’

Michael signed the contract with AEG in late January 2009; according to this February 28, 2009 post, Peter Lopez is rumored to have been fired.

The Newshound is now hearing whispers that Jackson has fired Peter Lopez, the star’s music lawyer of several years. Lopez had been representing Jackson in negotiations surrounding the residency since they began in 2007.Rumours of the lawyer’s dismissal are as yet unconfirmed and the reasons behind the alleged dismissal remain unclear.

Question: *If* Peter Lopez was fired close to the time the above post was published, why wasn’t he involved with the contract? He was reportedly involved with the negotiations, and the contract was signed the previous month. Why was Tohme Tohme working with attorney Dennis Hawk?