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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Memorial Planned for Michael Jackson at Neverland; Jackson Not Biological Father of Kids?
Aired June 30, 2009 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, Michael Jackson, bigger than ever in death. The world prepares for a massive public memorial, complete with motorcade at Michael Jackson`s beloved Neverland Ranch. Some say it could be on the scope of a state funeral. Will the infamous superstar playground now become a permanent shrine to the King of Pop?
And what about the will? An attorney for the family is confirming the existence of a will written by the singer in 2002, reportedly giving his estate to his mother, his children, and charity, and cutting dad, Joe, out. Could this explain Joe`s weird behavior?
JOE JACKSON, FATHER OF MICHAEL JACKSON: I want to make this statement. This is a real good statement here. Marshall and I have -- we owned a record company called Ranch Records.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Could legal battles soon follow?
Then, a shocking report surfaces saying Michael Jackson is not the biological father of any of his three children. Could a mystery dad emerge to challenge the will?
And in another twist, many sources allege that Debbie Rowe was merely the surrogate for her two children. Now we`re hearing she was invited to the custody hearing. Will there be a dramatic face-off with Katherine in court?
Plus, a source says Jackson escaped death in an eerily similar scenario almost five years ago, when he was found unconscious in another home. Were warning signs ignored?
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A flurry of jaw-dropping new developments tonight in the sudden death of Michael Jackson. After days of speculation about funeral arrangements, we learn the King of Pop`s body will return to his beloved and sprawling Neverland Ranch this Thursday, the day after tomorrow.
TMZ reports a 30-car motorcade will escort Michael Jackson`s body home. Reports are Neverland will be open to the public for a viewing, a public viewing at Neverland on Friday. What`s that going to be like? Will there be a massive crush of fans? I think so.
And is the beginning of Neverland becoming essentially the next Graceland? Is this the beginning of that? Some say that won`t happen. Others say never say never.
Meantime, a will signed by Jackson in 2002 has now surfaced. It reportedly leaves his vast estate his mom, Katherine, his three kids, and some charities. But guess who was left out: Dad. That`s right. Nothing, zero, nada for Joe Jackson. Could that be the reason why Joe made those seemingly callous comments at the BET Awards on Sunday night? Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE JACKSON: But I want to make this statement. This is a real good statement here. Marshall and I have -- we owned a record company called Ranch Records. OK? It`s got Blu-Ray technology. That`s the next step.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Blu-Ray technology?
Plus, exactly what is left of Jackson`s estate? Since his death, reports of his massive debt and his outrageous spending have made headlines. Sources close to the King of Pop say he died close to a half a billion dollars in debt. Could that debt be part of the inheritance, or could his death actually pull the pop star`s estate out of the red?
And shocking claims about the parentage of Jackson`s kids and what cops found at the scene of Jackson`s death.
I want to hear from you about all of this. But first, straight to my truly amazing expert panel: Bradford Cohen, criminal defense attorney; Tonya Acker, attorney and blogger for the Huffington Post; David Schwartz, former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney; Terry Liles, psychologist and crisis expert; Jim Moret, attorney and chief correspondent for "Inside Edition"; plus, joining me by phone, Stacy Brown, former Jackson family friend and author of the fantastic book, "Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask."
We`re going to start with Tonya, because Tonya, you were actually at the Jackson`s house in Encino this morning. Now, the viewing is going to be held 150 miles northwest of there at Neverland Ranch.
So from what you saw and heard and picked up today, what can we expect on Friday? Is the anticipation building for what somebody here in the studio said, "Hey, is it going to be like Woodstock 2?"
TONYA ACKER, ATTORNEY/BLOGGER: I think there`s no question. But we`re going to see huge crowds. It`s going to be quite a scene. I`ve actually been at the Jackson family home over the past couple of days. And the crowds, you know, there are moments when they`re bigger. There are moments when they`re not quite so big, but there are always people there. They were singing last night. They were singing; they were dancing. Today, there were still folks out in full force.
So I think that we`re going to have quite a scene for this public viewing in Neverland.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Jim Moret, memories of the Michael Jackson trial, which was held not far from Neverland, in Santa Maria, California. You and I both made the trek back and forth to Los Angeles weekend after weekend, and it`s a long trek.
And this is a holiday weekend. And the roads are going to be packed. We`re hearing something about a 30-car motorcade. My mind is really exploding with the possibilities, not all of them positive, about what this could look like.
JIM MORET, CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": None of them are positive. Are you kidding? I mean, think about it, Jane. You`ve been on that road at Neverland. It`s a two-lane road. I don`t know.
First of all, let`s say there`s a public viewing, and let`s say there are 100,000 cars. Where are you going to park? Are you going to walk ten miles to get to Neverland in 100-degree weather? You`re going to have people passing out.
I mean, I think that the highway patrol would have to shut down the road. The logistics -- it just doesn`t make any sense. And I don`t even know, frankly, if the Santa Barbara authorities or the highway patrol have been notified of any specific plans. And I think you really need specific plans for something like this.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I want to show you. Michael Jackson`s body is going to return, as we`ve been saying, to Neverland Ranch on Thursday for a public viewing on Friday.
You`ve got to take a look at the Google map to get the full sense of how far we have to go here. Los Angeles, California, that`s there. Jackson`s body has to travel from L.A. all the way up Route 1, past Santa Barbara to Los Olivos, California. This is a remote town about 128 miles from Los Angeles.
Then, you know, they have to continue on this very small road, as Jim Moret was mentioning, through the mountains to get to Neverland. It`s not a simple trip.
TMZ reporting that there is going to be this 30-car entourage, similar to the one that Jackson drove into court back in 2005. Remember, when he came to court in his pajamas? Well, that`s the motorcade right there. And you don`t see it moving too fast. It`s not a high-speed chase.
So, Stanley -- Stacy Brown, you`re the author of "Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask." I know that you have watched all things Jackson for years. There always seems to be a tremendous amount of drama and excitement and just chaos, for lack of a better word, surrounding the Jacksons. Is this a good idea?
STACY BROWN, AUTHOR, "MICHAEL JACKSON: THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK" (via phone): Well, it`s the only thing that makes sense, Jane, even though it`s probably not the best of ideas.
But I applaud the family for acknowledging that he has, you know, love him or hate him, and whether you think that he`s a child molester or not, he has a -- just fans everywhere.
And, Jane, look at the Apollo Theater today. It was jam-packed outside of that theater. You needed a lot of security there just for -- just for nobodies, really. And now you have Michael Jackson`s body. This is Elvis Presley twice over again.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It really is. And that raises another question. Jackson bought Neverland Ranch in 1987 during the heyday of his career. It`s a sprawling 2,800 acres. It was named after Peter Pan`s fantasy world, and it bustled with animals, unfortunately, animals in zoos. I don`t approve of that. But there were animals there. There were amusement rides. There was a whole lot of stuff, some of it controversial.
The King of Pop lived in this opulent estate and would often draw children there until June of 2005. And just last year, the property came very dangerously close to foreclosure. Now, Jackson was able to avoid public auction, but this once palatial estate is now empty. It doesn`t have all the bells and whistles that it had back in its heyday.
But my question -- and let me direct it to -- Tonya Acker, I`m going to go back to you, because you`ve been there. The family essentially has been saying, you know, "We`re not going to bury Michael Jackson there." Joe is saying, "We`re not going to create another Graceland at Neverland."
But what I`ve learned with the Jackson family is when they say they`re not going to do something, that`s a very good chance that they may well do it, and we could see Neverland become another Graceland.
ACKER: Well, once, a correction. I haven`t been to Neverland. I was at the family home in Encino over the past couple of days. But I think that just the scene that we`ve seen in Encino, the scene that we saw at the Apollo, what`s been happening, just the crowds along sunset, out near his home. I think there`s no question but that, irrespective of what the family does in an organized way, people are going to gravitate to this house.
The fascination with Michael Jackson has not diminished in the past few days, not one bit. And I think that once we get that 30-car motorcade traveling up to Los Olivos, I think that`s going to heighten the intensity around it. So...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Terry Liles, it`s actually not only not diminished; it`s increased. There is a run on Michael Jackson`s music that is incredible. He is becoming much more valuable, tragically, in death than he was in life.
And there are those who say, essentially, that all of that downplay of his music is going to start erasing his debt, and his estate is going to become at one point, if not already, extremely valuable, despite its half a billion dollars in debt, with all his assets.
My essential question to you is, is he going to be bigger than an Elvis? Is he going to be bigger than a Marilyn Monroe, a John Belushi, a John Lennon? Is he going to be the biggest tragic ending we`ve ever seen?
TERRY LILES, PSYCHOLOGIST AND CRISIS EXPERT: Well, I think it`s very possible. I mean, obviously, this is a death of a superstar. And you`d be hard pressed to find anybody in the city walking down the street that`s of any age to not know who Michael Jackson is.
And I think he`s going to be that Elvis. Well, he already is. You know, the concern of that is I think he`s going to be even glorified even more based upon what comes out of this trial, you know, all the situations on the legal side. Again, it`s the kids, I think, that we really have to pay attention to, to make sure they survive this and can thrive at the end of it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, everybody. Stay right there. So many breaking details to sort through tonight.
What do you think about the shocking loss of the King of Pop and all these latest developments? Give me a holler: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586- 7297. Share your thoughts.
Plus, investigators continue their probe into what caused Michael Jackson`s death. Much attention being focused on his prescribed medications. Did drugs play a role in the death of the King of Pop? We will examine the trail of evidence.
But first, let`s take another listen to the shocking 911 call from last Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he on the floor? Where is he at right now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s on the bed, sir. He`s on the bed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, let`s get him on the floor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, let`s get him down to the floor. I`m going to help you with CPR right now...
Did anybody see him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we have a personal doctor here with him, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, you have a doctor there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but he`s not responding to anything, to no, no, he`s not responding to the CPR or anything, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, OK. Well, we`re on our way there, and if your guy`s doing CPR, as instructed by a doctor, he has a higher authority than me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What you are looking at right now is a live tribute going on at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. The Jackson 5 performed there. And as you hear, this emotional tribute going on.
Tonight, there is a battle over where Michael Jackson will be buried, where he will be finally laid to rest. Gary, Indiana, his home town, they want him. Gary`s mayor has been talking to the Jackson family, saying, "Hey, we want Michael Jackson to come home to his original home town." They want to create a museum and a performing arts center. And they think it`s going to be a big boost to Gary, Indiana, which has suffered some hard times in the recent economic crisis.
All right. Phone lines lighting up. Cindy, California, your question or thought?
CALLER: Hello, Jane.
CALLER: I`m very, very angry at Joe Jackson right now. First of all, playing the grieving father and, second of all, still riding on Michael`s coattails. It`s really documented in La Toya Jackson`s book about the molestation that he did with La Toya and Michael, which is 25 or so...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait a second now. I want to be very clear here. That what I`ve heard Michael Jackson say is that his father beat him. What I`ve heard Joe Jackson admit to is that he hit his son with a whip or a switch.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A belt, right, Stacy. I have never heard anything about molestation. Please clarify that.
BROWN: Yes. Michael often said publicly that his father beat him with a belt, things like that. He has never spoke about his father molesting him. He hasn`t said anything like that publicly at all.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. Well, let`s -- let`s get into the will. Because this very much relates to the fact that Michael Jackson appears to have left his dad out of the will.
According to the "L.A. Times," Jackson`s 2002 will left his estate and trust to his kids with his mom as guardian. Other reports suggest a few charities were also named. Dad Joe Jackson not mentioned in the will, reportedly.
Listen to what Michael Jackson himself told Oprah about his dad back in 1993.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Did he ever beat you?
MICHAEL JACKSON, SINGER: Yes, he did. Yes. And that was difficult to take. Yes.
WINFREY: And why would he beat you?
M. JACKSON: Because he -- he saw me -- he wanted me to -- I guess -- maybe I don`t know if I was his golden child or whatever it was. Some may call it a strict disciplinarian or whatever, but he was very strict, very hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: David Schwartz, it appears that Joe Jackson`s out of the will. Can he battle it? Can he try to get something? Or does he have to just try to capitalize on Michael Jackson`s name by promoting his latest project, a couple of days after his son`s death?
DAVID SCHWARTZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, any interested party could challenge the validity of a will. Anyone can challenge a will. The question becomes, Jane, will he be successful? And if the will was executed under the laws of the state of California, it was executed properly.
There was an attorney there that conducted the ceremony of the execution of the will. We have to see what it says, but it doesn`t appear to be that he will be successful in challenging it, although he has the right to challenge it, and you will have a will contest.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what do we know about...
SCHWARTZ: Jane, you never know with these things. Because...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do we know about this will? Apparently it was in a safe kept by his attorney, who used to be his attorney and then recently became his attorney again, just recently.
SCHWARTZ: That`s all we know. And basically, look, you`re right. Anybody can challenge the will. But it`s no surprise that Michael Jackson would specifically take his father out of the will, given the fact that he felt the way he did about his father. And also you have to look at that will, because Michael Jackson has stated -- I know he stated in 2005 he didn`t want to go back to Neverland. So this isn`t necessarily his wishes that his body be brought back there. I don`t know what the will would have said in 2002.
But, you know, Gary, Indiana, could want him. And Neverland may want him. Michael Jackson may have been very explicit in his will about his burial.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s talk about money now. It`s complicated. So give me a second here to set it up.
In the days since his death, Michael Jackson`s massive debt has obviously made headlines. The "New York Times" said he burned through millions, maintaining Neverland and the extravagances, like Bubbles the chimp. The "Wall Street Journal" reports his debt was upward of 500 million, half a billion.
Jackson took out a massive $300 million loan using his 50 percent stake in the Sony ATV Publishing, which is known as the Beatles catalog. Then he took out, like 70-some million-dollar loan against his other catalogue, the Mijac catalog, which includes all of this songs. And then he defaulted on a loan last year and nearly lost Neverland Ranch.
Now, here`s the question. Bradford Cohen, in the days since the death, OK, sales of Michael Jackson music and paraphernalia skyrocketed. So are we going to break even, and then become an estate worth, ultimately, billions at the end of it?
BRADFORD COHEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think absolutely. I think when you look at what happens, in terms of the death of a superstar, is you stop hemorrhaging all that money, the $100,000 a month for a house, the shopping sprees, the traveling. All that money subsides, and now you start getting the plus side, where the record sales go up, more music labels, you know. They start producing tracks that weren`t out before. So you see all these things.
You know, there`s agents specifically for images that, you know, there`s a recent case about Marilyn Monroe and her image and the money that she was making off of -- her estate was making off those images.
So I think what you find is in death, they actually double up. Their valuables are worth more. You know, you saw a Kennedy cigar box go for, you know, $100,000 that`s probably worth, intrinsically, about $2,500. So all the valuables go up, plus there`s no more hemorrhaging all that money that he was spending every month.
SCHWARTZ (?): Jane, you stated before that Neverland may become the next Graceland. Let me ask a question. Who`s going to pay for that?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think it would make money, actually. They could charge for entrance, and it could make a fortune.
Everybody sit tight. A shocking new report that Michael Jackson is not the biological dad of any of his kids. We will examine that, coming right up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you being serious? No way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not taking...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Shock and hysteria. Michael Jackson fans around the world devastated over his sudden death. Tonight, we learned fans will be able to see the King of Pop at a public viewing of his body at Neverland Ranch on Friday.
Meanwhile, TMZ reporting cops at Jackson`s residence searching specifically for needles. What will they find, and what will it prove?
TMZ, the first news outlet to report the pop legend`s tragic death, and has been covering everything single twist and turn in this every- evolving case. Straight out to Mike Walters, assignment editor for TMZ.
Mike, you have been breaking news on this case since Michael`s death. What is the very latest?
MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT EDITOR, TMZ: Well, Jane, you said it. LAPD is focusing in on hypodermic needles. Now, that makes it come full circle. We said before Michael was receiving a daily shot of Demerol and had received one, one hour before the fateful 911 call came in. So obviously, they are looking for that sort of paraphernalia.
And we`re told that not only the doctor who was there is being questioned, but now Arnie Klein, famous for being the dermatologist for Michael Jackson, also going to be questioned. And any labels on any of those prescription bottles or the needles or anything that has to do with anything of that is going to be questioned. And that`s where the focus is. It`s going to come back.
We`re hearing it has something to do with drugs. And this is going to get really heavy before it gets better, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You have made some rather startling claims regarding the parentage of Michael Jackson`s children. What are you claiming?
WALTERS: Jane, Michael Jackson is not the biological father of any of his three children. And even more shocking, because I remember working on it with you back in the day, Debbie Rowe is not the biological mother.
WALTERS: She was a surrogate. It was implanted in her to carry. And get this: the baby Prince, who was born in San Diego, California, the youngest, the mother who actually held him and gave birth to him did not even know she was carrying his child.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
WALTERS: Michael`s attorney went down there -- go ahead.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me -- let me jump in here and say this is very, very important, because the attorney, Marta Almli, for Debbie Rowe says without a doubt Debbie Rowe is the mom. Quote, "We refuse to be drawn into addressing the various rumors and speculations. The vast majority of what is out there is not true." Quote, "Particularly hurtful is the insidious and most recent rumor, which is entirely false, concerning the maternity of the children. Ms. Rowe is the mother of the two oldest."
Obviously, they are saying that`s just not true. There have been so many conflicting reports about this. You have to wonder, given that Debbie Rowe is reportedly invited to the custody hearing on Monday, should she take a paternity test? A maternity test, I should say, a maternity test to settle it once and for all?
WALTERS: Yes, Jane, well, you first have to look at where the reports are coming from, first of all.
Second of all, it`s -- yes, of course. I mean, if Debbie Rowe claims to be the biological mother, she should.
I mean, and the other thing is, think about it. The people, whoever were the donors, if they know they are the donors, don`t think they won`t come out and come into this court proceeding.
And you know what else? It`s that this is a $236 million estate. So there`s a lot of money at stake, and there`s a lot of people involved. And specifically the grandparents have temporary guardianship, but Monday morning there`s a hearing. So they`ll figure it out.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, more will be revealed on Monday. Mike, stay right there.
Debbie Rowe reportedly invited to the custody hearing on Monday. This on the heels of these shocking allegations. What does it all mean?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A shocking report surfaces saying Michael Jackson is not the biological father for any of his three children and Debbie Rowe was merely the surrogate for her two children. Could mystery parents surface to seek custody?
Now we`re hearing Debbie Rowe was invited to the custody hearing. Will there be a dramatic face-off with Jackson`s mom, Katherine, in court?
Plus, a source says that Jackson escaped death in eerily similar scenario almost five years ago when he was found unconscious in another home. Were warning signs ignored?
The battle over the fate of Michael Jackson`s three children heats up. Stunning reports tonight about the biological parents of Michael`s two eldest children: Prince Michael Jr. and Paris. TMZ reporting that neither, as you just heard, Jackson nor Debbie Rowe who gave birth to those kids have biological ties to either of them.
But not so fast, Debbie Rowe`s lawyer is calling that BS and says she is the biological mother, that, according to RadarOnline. Ok, so who is the daddy?
"Us Weekly" is claiming that the sperm donor is Debbie Rowe`s one-time employer, dermatologist Arnie Klein. He is saying through published report he is not even going to dignify that allegation with an answer tonight as he mourns the death of Michael Jackson.
So does Debbie Rowe still have a chance if she picks a fight with Michael`s mom, Katherine, to get custody of the two older kids? Does she even want custody? Listen to what she said in 2003 on the Michael Jackson interview, the footage you were never meant to see on Fox.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBBIE ROWE, MOTHER OF JACKSON`S TWO OLDEST CHILDREN: My kids don`t call me mom because I don`t want them to. They`re not -- they`re Michael`s children. It`s not that they`re not my children, but I had them because I wanted him to be a father. I believe that there are people who should be parents; and he`s one of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Meantime, reports that Debbie Rowe has been calling the Jacksons and not hearing back. That didn`t stop Joe Jackson from talking about her Sunday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON`S FATHER: Of course, this is where they belong. We`re the parents. We`ve got other kids of their size. We love those kids. And we love those kids, too. We`re going to take care of them and give them the education they`re supposed to have. We can do that. Debbie Rowe has nothing to do with what we`re doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Rowe has been invited however, to attend the custody hearing set for this coming Monday. Katherine will of course, be there to try and nail down guardianship permanently of all three children, including Prince Michael the second, a.k.a. Blanket.
Blanket`s background also mired in mystery. TMZ actually got a hold of the 7-year-old child`s birth certificate and the mother is -- drum roll please -- blank. Michael Jackson, however, is the dad, at least on paper.
So much to sort out; my head is spinning. I`m sure yours is, too.
Let`s go straight out to my fantastic panel: still with me, Tonya Acker, attorney; David Schwartz, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; by phone, former Jackson family friend, Stacy Brown, co-author of the book "Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask;" and Mike Walters, assignment manager at TMZ.
Mike, Debbie Rowe will be in court. Apparently, she`s been invited anyway to be in court on Monday.
So what`s the very latest from TMZ on whether she`s going to make a move to try to get custody and if so, what would her motivation be?
MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Well you know what? I`m not sure. I mean, Debbie Rowe was served with the paperwork that she can be in court like you said invited. Whether she`ll show up or make a claim, I don`t know. I mean, now that this is in the public about how the kids were actually conceived and born, whether or not she knows now that she might not, I`m not sure and why.
But I know that for sure that maybe some other people might come out of the woodwork and remember that in California the way the law states -- and there are some attorneys that can speak with us about that -- because they were married and presumably there`s some sort of thing about mother and father when they were born, apparently it`s not a slam dunk that she`s not entitled to custody.
So if or if she`ll not be there, I don`t know. But it looks like possibly this could be what`s coming forward.
DAVID SCHWARTZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Jane, Jane the motivation is pretty clear. The motivation would be if the estate is worth $20 million in the end.
TONYA ACKER, ATTORNEY: Exactly.
SCHWARTZ: And the bottom line is if she gains custody of these children and there`s money left to the children, she`s going to have use and enjoyment of that money to spend on the children and she`ll be able to make the call on how to spend that money.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. Whoever controls the kids controls the money, Tonya Acker?
ACKER: Right, but here`s a legal issue.
First off, there is a presumption that children who are born to parents in a marriage or children who are born through a marriage are presumably the children of those parents. So both Debbie Rowe and Michael Jackson are presumed to be the parents of the two older children.
But let`s take a look at that interview. Let`s not forget that interview that she gave a few years ago. The overriding legal standard in California determining who gets custody is the best interest of the child.
You`ve got to look at who the child has relationships with. You`ve got to look at what`s going to be best for them. And remember if Debbie Rowe were in some strange event to be awarded of the custody of the older two there`s a very good chance that they could be separated from their younger -- from Blanket, from the youngest.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Stacy Brown, give us the history of her on again - off again relationship. She gave up her parental rights then she fought to get them back. And then reportedly she made another deal relinquishing them again according to some reports. What`s going on?
STACY BROWN, FRIEND OF THE JACKSON FAMILY (via telephone): Well and Jane, you remember her bizarre performance at the trial when she was called to testify. She kept recanting stories -- one story after another. And I think that taken into consideration on what`s in the best interest of those children, there`s no way that you can conclude that she would be in the best interest.
Here`s someone who has publicly said, she has given her womb as a gift to Michael and that she didn`t want anything to do with those children because they were gifts to Michael. Do you want that person around?
And the other thing you fear is exactly what we`re talking about, that the motivation to have these kids is money. And that is just totally bad.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`ve got some callers who have been waiting very patiently.
Linda in Texas, your question or thought, ma`am.
LINDA IN TEXAS: Yes, hi. I have a question about Michael`s debt. First of all, what kind of debt did Michael get into that would total $500 million? And was there anybody around him that was advising him?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was there -- how many dozens of people were around him advising him? Mike Walters, I remember being assigned to go to the Beverly Hills Hotel for the infamous summit of all of his advisers...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...and it was like the IRT at rush hour, which is a reference to the train here in Manhattan.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: How many advisers? But where did this debt come from? All the lawsuits, et cetera?
WALTERS: Yes, well, and lavish spending. Michael Jackson, just -- we put up a story today that he just bought three pieces of art two weeks ago for $13,000. Michael Jackson spent money. He rented $100,000 house where he ended up passing away at. I mean, he was a lavish spender.
And remember now, because of all of this debt and all the people around him, like you said, it`s interesting because people call them enablers. Not people around him. Some of these people are being questioned in this case of his death because a lot of these people were there for him and maybe not there for him as a friend.
SCHWARTZ: And this Jane backs up my point that Neverland ultimately has to be sold. Neverland will not be Graceland.
SCHWARTZ: It cost as lot of money -- it costs a lot of money to maintain Neverland.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, it is.
ACKER: It cost a lot of money to maintain Neverland.
SCHWARTZ: The maintenance, who is going to pay for that?
ACKER: It costs a lot of money to maintain Neverland. And Michael Jackson is there constantly acquiring new things and buying new things. But I agree with Jane, I think that there`s a whole lot of money that could be made, if the family chose to do that. If the estate decided that they want to move forward with that. I think that it really could be a cash cow if they wanted to move forward in that way.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh my gosh you could set it up and have a hotel there...
SCHWARTZ: You could.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And oh, my -- the possibilities.
SCHWARTZ: But let`s see what happens.
VELEZ-MITCHEL: Just the karaoke night, it would be astounding.
Stacy Brown, let`s get back to the debt, though. You know a lot about how he accumulated this massive debt.
BROWN: Well, yes. Jane, one thing will blow your mind. I remember having to testify at the trial and when I flew in to Santa Maria, I was picked up by one of the sheriff`s deputies and we were in a conversation and I said, you know, is it true that he`s really paid out over $100 million to settle cases of child molestation and the deputy said, "No, that`s not true."
We have evidence that it`s over $200 million and that includes lawyers, accusers, their families. It`s a mess; $200 million to settle child molestation accusations. That`s where the money went.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the reports were that it was $20 million for the one in 1993. That was...
BROWN: And that was just the boy himself, Jane. That doesn`t include lawyers, it didn`t include June Chandler, the boy`s mother.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, we want to keep the names I think out of it.
BROWN: The father.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, it`s been so much time has passed. But anyway, hang on. We`ve got so much more controversy. My papers are overflowing.
A new report says Jackson escaped death in an eerily similar scenario almost five years ago. Were the warning signs simply missed by those closest to him? I want to hear from you -- 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. Share your questions or comments.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did Michael Jackson have a pill problem? We will look at what role prescription meds may have played in his tragic death in just moments.
But first, tonight`s "Top of the Block."
Stories we are watching this week: authorities in Washington State frantically searching for an adorable 10-year-old girl missing since Friday night. Look at this beautiful child. Lindsay Baum was last seen walking the four blocks home from a friend`s house in this small town of McCleary, Washington.
Beautiful girl. As investigators comb the community for clues, her mom says she believes little Lindsay has been abducted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELISSA BAUM, MOTHER OF MISSING GIRL: And if somebody does have her, I wish they would just drop her off somewhere where she can get to a pay phone and call 911 or call home so that we can come and get her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What hell. Lindsay, 4`9, 80 pounds, brown hair and eyes; she was last seen wearing a gray or blue hooded sweatshirt with blue jeans and black shoes. Please call Grace Harbor County Sheriff`s office with any tips about this beautiful missing child.
Meantime, developments in two stories we`ve been following, progress in the search for a missing Florida woman Tracy Ocasio. Investigators reportedly planning to drain a sewer looking for any clues in her disappearance. Ocasio went missing after leaving a local bar with person of interest, James Hataway.
The search location, near one of James Hataway`s former home. Hataway maintains he had nothing to do with her disappearance. He is being held on unrelated charges and just today was slapped with a slew of charges related to an assault against another Florida woman allegedly.
Meantime, a tip in the search for another young Florida woman who vanished three years ago without a trace comes up empty-handed. Yesterday, cops searched through a massive hole they dug in a field near Jennifer Kesse`s old condo. Drew Kesse, Jennifer`s courageous dad says the area was searched but not well, after his daughter first disappeared.
The hope lingers for her anguished parents. Cops suggest no clues were found to move this investigation forward unfortunately. Drew Kesse says more searches are planned however.
That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."
Back to the Michael Jackson saga: an investigation just getting under way. How and, even more critically, why did the 50-year-old singer die so suddenly only days before he suffered a fatal cardiac arrest? Jackson seemed to be in tip top shape.
Take a look at these photos. Some say these were even -- I`ve heard reports they`re even more recent than a couple of days. That some of them where from the night before but I can`t confirm that.
But neither -- nevertheless, these photos show a vibrant and active Jackson in true form, rehearsing for his blockbuster comeback tour in London. Look, he`s smiling, he looks ok. But was the "King of Pop" popping pills and shooting himself up with narcotics at the same time?
Police want to know. They`ve come back to Jackson`s rented home last night to search the premises. TMZ reporting cops were looking for controlled substances and paraphernalia, specifically needles.
Meantime, Michael Jackson`s long-time trainer, "Incredible Hulk" Lou Ferrigno, who was with Jackson in the days before he died told Larry King, Jackson was in great shape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOU FERRIGNO, JACKSON`S FRIEND AND TRAINER: I trained him on and off for 15 years. But when I saw him a few months ago, he looked fantastic. The way he moved, I worked with him, different exercises and I`ve never seen him look better. He did a lot of core training, stretching -- nothing with heavy resistance -- and walking on the treadmill.
I would use the exercise ball, like bands for weight training because when you`re a dancer, it has a lot to do with flexibility and stamina and you want to be as conditioned as you can be especially if you`re near 51 now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All this as a new report says Michael Jackson had a brush with death back in 2004. A source close to the family describing the scene when Michael`s brother, Randy, found him unconscious in 2004 and immediately called a paramedic.
But was Jackson at death`s door last Thursday or did something specific precipitate his untimely death at age 50?
Let`s break it down with my fantastic panel: still here by phone, Stacy Brown, co-author, "Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask;" also joining me, Dr. Cathleen London, board certified family practice physician; and Marc Kern, clinical psychologist and addiction specialist.
Marc, we see all these conflicting reports. We see him looking pretty darn good there, one day or a couple of days before his death. Then we`re hearing reports of needles not just from the tabloid but Brian Oxman, a former Jackson family attorney. Told us last night on this air -- on this show that yes, he had evidence that Michael Jackson had needle marks.
MARC F. KERN, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I can`t say for sure that the reports aren`t final -- but it would appear that this brilliant man had a very serious drug problem for quite a good length of time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well listen, I`m a recovering alcoholic with 14 years of sobriety. I say it all the time on this show. You don`t just stop without a program. And you don`t just stop without help and working on it one day at a time. You get a daily reprieve.
I don`t think we had any evidence that he was doing that. We know that he became an addict he admitted it after his hair caught fire in 1984. And he started taking pills because of all the pain. And then he ultimately went into rehab during his "Dangerous" tour in the early `90s.
So what evidence do we have, Marc Kern? You`re the addiction specialist. That he could have dug his way out?
KERN: We don`t have any evidence at this time that he was an addict. But given, you know...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa, whoa. We have evidence that he had addiction problems.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I was asking you what evidence do we have that he dug his way out of the addiction problems?
KERN: We have -- to my knowledge, we don`t have any evidence. And it doesn`t even sound like the family or he made any attempts to bring someone in to oversee him or travel with him, to be sort of a monitor or sponsor, if you want to go that way.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Stacy Brown, let me bring you in. You know a lot about this. Clear it up for us.
BROWN: Yes, Jane. You are absolutely right.
He -- there was an addiction after his hair caught on fire and went into rehab and acknowledged going into rehab and that was during the 1993 allegation that he went into rehab.
But his family famously tried and they can`t be blamed because they did try several attempts at an intervention with him. They were very concerned for a long time. And it`s no secret that Michael was an addict.
And look at him. I mean, look at the pictures you were showing, Jane. He was clearly in trouble a lot.
Now, the last pictures that we see of him on stage I was told that he looked spectacular, the night before he died.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. That`s what I`m saying. It doesn`t make any sense. It doesn`t jive.
KERN: But it does jive -- it jives with someone who has an addiction, it jives with someone who -- sort of a polydrug users who has uppers and downers who...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: More on this in one moment. Stay right there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM MESEREAU, JACKSON`S FMR. DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I never saw him take any prescription drug or any other type of drug and during the five month long trial which was five days a week, he was always coherent, articulate, cooperative with me. So I`m not a witness to any of this.
I did hear the stories though repeatedly. He was always very lucid, very conscious, very articulate, very intelligent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes and he did appear that way at the trial quite often; very lucid, sometimes yes and sometimes less so. Michael Jackson`s brilliant former attorney, Tom Mesereau, describing his client`s demeanor during the 2005 sexual molestation trial. Remember, he was acquitted on all counts.
What do we make of images from that period -- Michael Jackson sometimes looking sharp; sometimes looking a little idle?
Back with my panelists.
Dr. Cathleen London, you`re a doctor. Try to give us a sense of how we`re going to settle this. Obviously he had a lot of prescription pills allegedly in the home.
DR. CATHLEEN LONDON, BOARD CERTIFIED FAMILY PRACTICE PHYSICIAN: Right.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Are they going to match the doctors on those pills and interview those people and try to get a sense of how many people prescribing for him and what?
LONDON: See, I think that`s the problem when you have someone of this level of fame and you know someone who has the means. They`re going to be able to get prescriptions.
It`s one of the issues on how we deliver health care and there`s no reason to not monitor it better. But here`s someone who admits to Demerol injections, admits to pill popping, admits to other things and those can be very dangerous combinations.
If you take the opiates that are in things like Demerol and other pain meds and mix them with things like valium and that whole class of medication, you can get into fatal heart rhythms.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well you know as...
LONDON: And no doubt that...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I understand what you`re saying about the mixture, but Stacy, did he ever admit to that?
BROWN: He has admitted to that. We talked about it earlier. He admitted to it in `93. He admitted to it later.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, no I understand in `93. But I mean, we`re in 2009 now.
BROWN: Yes he...
LONDON: More recently there`s been some reports.
BROWN: Unfortunately, Bob Jones is not with us here anymore. But he -- several times Bob has had to pick him up off the floor. I mean, this is not anything new.
KERN: Right, I think that`s important to know. This is not new. This man was traumatized from childhood and it was almost -- should be expected that he`d have a problem with drugs almost.
LONDON: I mean, even someone -- Deepak Chopra even said that he had long concerns about it, has come out recently in the last few days. So this was very well-known. And Michael`s very effective as many addicts are of pushing people away who are trying to help them.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And the toxicology tests will ultimately tell the story. We`re going to have to wait a few weeks for those. I want to thank you fabulous panel.
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