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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Debbie Rowe Reportedly Wants Custody of Jackson Kids
Aired July 2, 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, incredible new video showing the King of Pop just two days before his tragic and sudden death. Michael Jackson at his best, begging the question on everyone`s lips: what happened?
Then shocking new reports claim Debbie Rowe will seek custody of Jackson`s two oldest children. A furious legal battle looms as all sides storm into court to grapple over guardianship of the young Jackson kids. And the will, we`ll preview the hearing everybody is talking about.
Plus, cataclysmic developments in the Michael Jackson investigation have authorities scrambling. Now the DEA is diving into the probe of whether Jackson got powerful drugs used to knock out surgery patients and who may have supplied them. This as TMZ claims that Jackson used a slew of aliases to get a hold of these dangerous drugs, including the name of a 19th century author. What`s up with that? Will criminal charges soon follow?
And outrage and controversy over word from Radar Online that the latest memorial plans could be used as a moneymaker. Is charging fans to pay tribute the right way to honor the King of Pop? And who is going to profit?
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable late-breaking news tonight with a series of jaw-dropping developments in the death of Michael Jackson. Stunning, never-before-seen video of the King of Pop during one of his last rehearsals just two days before his sudden death. Watch.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, that`s the Michael Jackson we know. Energetic, talented, fun, healthy. So could this startling footage of the pop star looking like he`s thin but otherwise fit become a crucial piece of evidence in the investigation into his very sudden death?
The investigation now centers around a rumored prescription drug addiction. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration -- that`s right, the DEA -- is now part of the death investigation. Their mission: to determine if prescription drugs or even more powerful hospital surgery drugs triggered Jackson`s death. And if so, who -- who, who, who -- gave him those drugs? Will we see criminal charges in this case?
But first, in a truly shocking turn, a Los Angeles local news station reports Debbie Rowe, Michael Jackson`s ex-wife and reportedly the biological mom of his two oldest children, wants custody of those kids. Rowe reportedly went so far as to say she wants a restraining order against Joe Jackson so he cannot see the kids.
Debbie Rowe`s attorney, Eric George, addressed these claims just a few minutes ago in a conference call. Rowe`s lawyer said there`s no reason to doubt the accuracy of that local news report, but she, meaning Debbie, has not reached a final decision on seeking custody.
Now, Jackson specifically left Debbie Rowe out of his will. Nothing. And she had relinquished her rights to the kids in the past, but could a judge grant her custody over Michael`s designated guardian, his 79-year-old mom Katherine? Will her advanced age be a factor in all of this?
That crucial hearing on all of these issues has just been pushed back to a week from Monday.
Michael`s brother Jermaine spoke to "The Today Show" this morning about Michael`s wish to leave the kids to his mom, Katherine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERMAINE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON`S BROTHER: She`s definitely capable. And she has someone with her to make sure that they`re doing the right things. I -- I thought it was a great will because the children are fine, my mother`s the perfect person to be there. And it`s definitely him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But now, more dramarama. Debbie Rowe reportedly saying, "I want the kids." Quite a different tune from what she told the interviewers on "The Michael Jackson Interview: The Footage You Were Never Meant to See" in 2003.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBBIE ROWE, MOTHER OF 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: Can`t take those words back. They`re on videotape. Debbie Rowe, Jackson`s kids are set to inherit 80 percent of his estate, potentially billions of dollars. Could cash be an influencing factor for this absentee mother? Yet again.
We are taking your calls straight to my absolutely fantastic expert panel: Joe Tacopina, former attorney for Michael Jackson and criminal defense attorney. Great to see you, Joe.
JOE TACOPINA, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL JACKSON: Thank you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lisa Bloom, CNN legal analyst; Dr. Dale Archer, clinical psychiatrist; David Schwartz, former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney; and Jim Moret, chief correspondent for "Inside Edition" and attorney.
Jim, you and I both saw Debbie Rowe in action, face to face, in the Jackson criminal trial. And her fickle testimony that was supposed to be for the prosecution but ended up being a gift to Michael Jackson when she turned around and said, to everybody`s surprise, he`s a great father. Many believe her testimony actually helped get him acquitted. Is this not a woman who changes her mind over and over and over again?
JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": Well, she signed away the rights to her kids, and then an appellate court in 2006 found that she didn`t really sign away her parental rights. And Michael Jackson thought he had an agreement with her signed, sealed, delivered, but it`s not the case.
And now in his death, she tells -- we`re hearing two different things. The attorney says no decision`s been made, but she says quite emphatically to the local news reporter, "I want my kids back," and then goes further to say, "I want a restraining order against Joe Jackson." It`s -- you know, I can`t square those two statements.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I want to be a tourist in space some day. Doesn`t mean it`s going to happen.
You know, Lisa Bloom, this woman is really a piece of work. I mean, we`ve heard some of her comments in the past: "I don`t want them to call me mom. I have done nothing to earn the title of parent." And now, suddenly, "Oh, I want my kids"?
LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I have a little bit of sympathy for Debbie Rowe. Clearly, she`s made some big mistakes, the biggest one being abandoning her own children for years.
But I think her framework of thinking was she gave these children to Michael Jackson. She loved him. She believed he was a good single parent. She allowed him to have control of the kids, but she did try to step in when she felt the kids were in danger. She did that a couple of times.
No. 1, when the Nation of Islam was highly connected to Michael Jackson during the trial. She said she didn`t like that. She felt they were anti-Semitic organization, and she`s Jewish.
And No. 2, during the criminal trial, when she was concerned that he could be a child molester and he could have been convicted, and she sought custody at that time.
Now that he`s deceased, everything has changed. She wants custody of the kids because he`s not around to raise them anymore. I mean, it does make a little bit of sense, doesn`t it?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Lisa, what about the money?
TACOPINA: No, makes no sense.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joe Tacopina, jump in here.
TACOPINA: Guys, I mean, I agree with Lisa. Listen, Jane. Michael -- Michael was a good father. And there was no issue. But he`s not here anymore.
So when the court looks at this, they`re going to say, what -- there`s one standard and one standard only that`s going to count here. Best interest of the children. And they will look to determine if Debbie -- because if Debbie Rowe is a fit parent, she will get custody of these children.
BLOOM: That`s right.
TACOPINA: Because she is the parental, you know, guardian. She is the one who gave birth to these children.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait a second.
TACOPINA: Wait, Jane, Jane, Jane, I listened to that interview. She did not denounce these as her children. She said that these were for Michael. And you know what? Things change, like Michael`s not here anymore. So she did not denounce them. She basically said, "I birthed these children because he needed to be a father. He deserved to be a father."
DAVID SCHWARTZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Joe -- Joe...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Go ahead, David Schwartz. Then I`m going to play another clip of her talking about her kids.
SCHWARTZ: How -- how is it in the best interests of the child? There`s no continuity here whatsoever. How is it in the best interests of the children when they have no relationship with Debbie Rowe whatsoever? They have just gone through this traumatic event.
TACOPINA: That -- that is...
SCHWARTZ: And now all of a sudden, now all of a sudden Debbie Rowe is going to step in there, and there`s no continuity.
TACOPINA: That`s someone the court will consider.
SCHWARTZ: Not only...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait. OK. Look.
SCHWARTZ: I could see visitation. I could see granting her visitation as a starting point, but not...
BLOOM: And also a lot more money might be attached.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, the money, money, money.
TACOPINA: Whatever the motive -- whatever the motive, the court is not going to care about the motive.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to play another clip of Debbie Rowe. She`s coming out of nowhere now. She`s telling reporters she wants custody possibly. Listen to what she said in 2003 on the show "The Michael Jackson Interview, The Footage You Were Never Meant to See."
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ROWE: We are a family unit. Michael and I will always be connected with the kids. I will always be there for him. I will always be there for the children. And people make remarks: "Oh, I can`t believe she left her children." Left them? I left my children? I did not leave my children. My children are with their father, where they`re supposed to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Now my head`s spinning.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about the money aspect? I`ve got to ask somebody about that. I mean, she got -- reportedly got a house in Beverly Hills. She got payments over and over again. It`s so complicated it`s hard to put a dollar figure on it. What about the money factor?
DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: We`re going to look at it from a psychiatric perspective, and the diagnosis is "show me the money." Because every time that something came up with a problem, she would step in, and then all of a sudden turn around and end up being Michael Jackson`s best friend in terms of her testimony.
So I think the fact that she was not named in the will, oops, all of a sudden she thought, "OK, it`s time for me to try to get custody."
BLOOM: Jane -- Jane, if I could add to that. If she gets custody of the kids, she`s entitled to the equivalent of child support from the estate, and that`s going to come first. Because the support of his own children is going to come first out of the estate before any of the other people, any of the other beneficiaries. So she is potentially looking at a very big payday.
And if she`s guardian of the kids` estate as their mother, then she`s controlling a vast amount of money, potentially, on behalf of the kids.
TACOPINA: But she got lucky -- she got lucky. Michael Jackson married her. She got lucky. So this is her only angle for money.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I can`t believe I just heard that. That you said he married her...
TACOPINA: Michael Jackson -- she got lucky from a financial standpoint, she got lucky. But it doesn`t matter. It doesn`t matter.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jim Moret, weigh in.
MORET: Debbie Rowe is only the mother of two of the kids. There are three kids here. What happens to that third child? And shouldn`t those kids be together? And also...
TACOPINA: Not necessarily.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And what about the kids? Shouldn`t they get to speak? They`re 11 and 12.
TACOPINA: Absolutely, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A 12-year-old can say I don`t want to go there.
TACOPINA: The mother is 80 years old. The mother is 80 years old. What happens in five years when she dies?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s a bad situation.
BLOOM: At least they keep the nanny. At least there`s some continuity.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, the nanny sounds like the best idea right now. At least...
TACOPINA: These kids are...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stay right there. Who do you think should get custody of Jackson`s children? Give me a call: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586- 7297. Weigh in.
A memorial service planned for Tuesday morning in L.A. could come with a fee? Fans will have to shell out a reported $25 to pay their last respects. That`s according to one report. So the question: is Jackson trying -- the estate anyway trying to profit off this death. We`ll examine it.
First, another look at Michael Jackson in concert. Just two days before he died rehearsing, looking fabulous and fit and as talented as ever.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE JACKSON, FATHER OF MICHAEL JACKSON: Of course, this is where they belong. We`re the parents, and we`ve got other kids their size. They 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 going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Joe Jackson, saying Debbie Rowe has nothing to do with his grandkids. Today Debbie Rowe told a local Los Angeles news station she wants those kids and wants a restraining order against Joe Jackson, the man you just heard from.
Now, just moments ago her lawyer said Debbie Rowe has not made a final decision on whether or not to seek custody, and the hearing has been pushed back to a week from Monday. It was supposed to happen this Monday.
We`re taking your calls. So many developments. Debbie in Michigan, your questions or thought, ma`am.
CALLER: Yes, I have a comment. It`s a shame that she even deserves the title to be called a mother. She gave up the parental rights to Michael for those children. And also, it`s funny how the last couple of days she was just going to appear in court with her lawyer and now all of a sudden that the will was read yesterday that she is absolutely out of it and gets zero, she wants her children. It`s a shame.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Dr. Dale Archer, there`s an old saying, and I don`t like to say it because it`s sexist. But it`s hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Now, in general terms, she had nothing to say about this, and then the will comes out yesterday, right?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we all found out, oh, Michael Jackson only specifically excluded one person: her. And today, suddenly, she`s seeking the kids, according to at least one Los Angeles news station, although her lawyer says she hasn`t decided. Do you see a connection?
ARCHER: How can you not see a connection? Of course, there`s a connection. There`s no other connection that makes any sense. I mean, everything she said up until this point was, "These are Michael`s kids. I did it for him. I gave it to him." On and on and on. The will comes out. She`s not in it. Boom, I want custody.
BLOOM: And Jane -- Jane, there`s another connection I think we can draw here, and I think the lawyers on the panel will agree with me. The fact that all of a sudden she`s stepping back via her attorney and saying, "Well, this isn`t my final decision, and let`s put the hearing off for a week."
You know what that means? Settlement talks are probably going on behind the scenes right now with her attorney and Jackson`s attorney as to how much money she might get to go away.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, Joe Tacopina, even I am not that cynical, but it does make a lot of sense.
BLOOM: Joe, back me up.
TACOPINA: You know, look, all of you could -- we could all be right.
BLOOM: No, we can`t.
TACOPINA: No, no, no, you could all be right.
BLOOM: Back me up, Joe.
TACOPINA: All of these are plausible theories. But let me just say this. She is the birth parent of these children. She gave birth to them. Unless she`s proven to be unfit, which right now there`s no -- no evidence of, you can`t just discount her for being a money grubber. She may be -- that may be her motive, but also she could be the right parent.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jim Moret, don`t the kids...
TACOPINA: Where are these kids going to go?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Don`t have the kids have a say? The oldest is 12 years old.
TACOPINA: Joe Jackson, I mean, do we think he did a good job with Michael?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jim Moret, don`t have these kids have a say?
MORET: I think if you have an 11- or 12-year-old child they are going to have an opinion.
You know, it`s funny. I was listening to Lisa before. And I have to admit, she made such a powerful argument that she stepped in when she thought things were not going right for those kids, and now that Michael`s gone, she wants them back. And now I don`t even know, because she has such a good lawyer that she`s giving me the other side now.
TACOPINA: Hello, right. But where are they going to go, guys? Where are they going to go?
BLOOM: Now she`s concerned about Joe.
TACOPINA: Where are they going to go?
SCHWARTZ: Why was she shafted? Why was she shafted?
TACOPINA: Where are they going to go?
SCHWARTZ: Isn`t it reasonable -- wait. Isn`t it reasonable that the kids got all the money anyway? These two people weren`t married. I don`t see why people think Debbie Rowe was shafted in the first place.
BLOOM: Yes. And this boilerplate language in a will. There`s boilerplate language. If you want to exclude an ex, the lawyers throw that in there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wouldn`t the judge just say, "Oh, sit down in that chair, young man" and ask the 12-year-old, "where do you want to live?"
And if he says, "I want to live with my grandma," then that`s it.
TACOPINA: No, no, no. That`ll be a factor. That`ll be a factor. This judge has a lot to weigh in this case, Jane. A lot of different factors. And certainly where the 12-year-old wants to live will be a factor. A factor.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: If he said, "I want to live at Neverland," that would be a problem. Because that`s not going to happen.
TACOPINA: That would be a big problem.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve learned that all three of Jackson`s children were at the hospital, and this is just real serious stuff here, when their father passed away. Listen to what Michael`s brother, Jermaine Jackson, told "The Today Show" about that this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERMAINE JACKSON: We felt it -- that it was important to let them see their father and so they can get it over and understand.
MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, ABC`S "THE TODAY SHOW": So they were taken in to see their father after he had passed?
JERMAINE JACKSON: Yes. Yes.
LAUER: That`s a hard thing for kids.
JERMAINE JACKSON: Yes. But now they`re fine. And I know it`s tough, but I think it was the best thing to do. At first I was against it. But what do you say if you don`t show them?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Dale Archer, good idea?
ARCHER: Absolutely a good idea. I totally agree with this 100 percent. I think that the rule of thumb here when dealing with kids, and it`s the No. 1 rule, is you`re always honest with them.
And you`ve got to realize that 30 or 40 years ago, most deaths occurred at home with the family and friends around the individual. Now death is turned into a very lonely event, in a hospital, very few people there. I think this was good judgment. It lets the kids know exactly what`s going on. They can see him; the grieving can start immediately. Very good move.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Jim Moret, we only have a couple of seconds. But they have been seen without their masks recently. That`s fascinating to me.
MORET: Well, it is, and that`s good. You get a sense that there`s perhaps some normalcy in their lives now. And that`s really as you want it to be.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what I heard was that the nanny, Grace, was not in favor of the masks, and she kept saying, according to some published reports, "Oh, I forgot them" so that the kids could go out without the masks. So I think we should consider that nanny.
All right, everybody. Sit tight. More on the looming custody battle when we come right back. The DEA joining the investigation into Jackson`s death.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you being serious?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Jackson`s dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No way!
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fans around the world devastated at the news that Michael Jackson is dead. But they may be more shocked to find out that Michael`s ex, Debbie Rowe, a woman who gave the King of Pop the rights to her kids years ago, is now saying, at least to a reporter, "I want them back." The big question, will she officially seek custody? Back to my fantastic expert panel. Phone lines lighting up.
Cathy in Pennsylvania, your question or thought, ma`am.
CALLER: Hi, Jane.
CALLER: I`d like to know in your panel`s opinion, would the judge serious place these children back in Joe Jackson`s care? Or even with the grandmother. With all of the accusations, you know, that have been put out in the past with, you know, the supposed abuse that the Jackson children, you know, that he, you know...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hear what you`re saying.
SCHWARTZ: Cathy -- Cathy, there`s no allegations at all that Joe Jackson ever abused these grandchildren.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Not the grandchildren.
SCHWARTZ: The grandchildren. We`re talking about the grandchildren right now.
TACOPINA: Doesn`t matter. That doesn`t matter.
BLOOM: But the history of abuse will certainly come into play.
SCHWARTZ: What do you mean it doesn`t matter?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Guys, guess what? He doesn`t live with Katherine. If Katherine gets custody, Joe Jackson lives in Las Vegas, completely...
BLOOM: You mean to tell me he`s never going to come around?
TACOPINA: You heard what he said. You heard what he said in that interview: "We`ll decide what to do with the kids." Like, you know, he`s already -- he`s already taking control over their lives.
And I will say this. I`ve met with Joe Jackson during the trial. I think -- first of all, I fully believe Michael was innocent of the charges, and I think the jury agreed, obviously. But I will tell you this. Michael missed his childhood. He was a regressed 13-year-old, and I think the parenting had a lot to do with that.
So I`m not sure, and I can`t answer that question for. Where did these children go? Do we want to put them in the hands of Joe Jackson? I mean, that`s the question the judge is going to have to be faced with. And quite frankly, if there are allegations about how the Jackson children were treated by Joe. That`s going to come into play here. The court...
SCHWARTZ: That`ll come into play, but still no allegations that he ever abused the grandchildren.
And Debbie Rowe -- that`s a big deal. That`s a huge deal.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: He whipped his son.
BLOOM: That`s too narrow of an inquiry, did he abuse the grandchildren. How much access does he have? How often has he been alone with them?
SCHWARTZ: But there`s no -- there`s no allegation of abuse of these grandchildren, but of other children.
BLOOM: That`s not required, David. That`s not required.
SCHWARTZ: I`m not saying required. These are all factors to be considered by a judge. There are no requirements where these kids are going to go. It`s going to be up to the judge in the end.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen, is there going to be a full-scale trial here? I mean, it`s a custody battle, but we`re -- there`s videotape. There`s audio tape. You hear what Debbie Rowe`s saying. Are we going to see a drawn-out proceeding where the videotapes and the audio tapes are played and the nanny Grace comes in and takes the stand and says, "Oh, you know, I want them" or whatever she says?
TACOPINA: Well, Jane, the answer to that question is not if anyone really cares about these kids there`s not going to be. I mean, if someone -- if they really care about the best interests of the children, they`ll do exactly what the judge ordered them to do, by the way, which is get together, try not to make a circus out of this. These kids are going to be scarred for life as it is and try...
BLOOM: You know what, Jane...
SCHWARTZ: It`s going to get ugly.
BLOOM: Jane, I think -- I think the Jackson family has really mishandled this from the beginning because they filed court papers that I think offended Debbie Rowe and set her off. They said they didn`t know her phone number.
TACOPINA: You can see...
BLOOM: And if they had gotten together with the beginning and brought her into the fold, said, "We want you to be part of these children`s lives, but we want to have custody."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You are so right.
TACOPINA: Joe Jackson...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cataclysmic developments on multiple fronts have authorities scrambling. Now the DEA is diving into the probe of whether Michael Jackson got powerful prescription drugs normally used in a hospital setting and who may have provided them? Will criminal charges soon follow?
Plus outrage and controversy over word from RadarOnline that the latest memorial plans could be used as a moneymaker. Is charging fans to pay tribute the right way to honor the "King of Pop" and who is going to profit?
Sparked by allegations of drug addiction, abuse and doctor shopping, the feds bust in to the investigation of Michael Jackson`s sudden death. Troubling reports of a weary and frail Jackson clashing tonight with these new images of the pop superstar looking very much alive and well, fit, talented during a rehearsal for his comeback tour in London just two days before he collapsed and died; that`s amazing.
A robust and active Jackson singing a track from the "History" album and dancing along with eight male backup dancers; but does this stunning video square with claims that Jackson was sickly and addicted really, hooked on prescription meds.
A source telling TMZ a generic anesthetic -- stuff you can`t even get a prescription for because it`s so strong it`s only used in hospitals to knock people out for surgery -- was found in his house after he died. This as a nurse/nutritionist claims Jackson asked for that chemical to help him sleep.
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CHERILYN LEE, CLAIMED SHE GAVE JACKSON NUTRITIONAL ADVICE: He never asked any sleep drugs. He said he only wanted one that he knew of as time went on that months later that was going to help him to sleep. But he said, "I know it will help me sleep." And I said, "Michael, this is something serious, you don`t want to take this. You just don`t want to take this."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The drug in question is a highly-potent substance used to put patients under before surgery. We`re not talking Tylenol PM here, people.
CNN`s Dr. Sanjay Gupta spoke to a leading anesthesiologist about this drug.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ZEEV KAIN, CHAIRMAN DEPARTMENT OF ANESTHESIOLOGY, UC IRVINE: You will die if you will give yourself or if somebody will give you Propofol and you`re not in the proper medical hands.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Can you write me prescription for some Propofol and I can go get some?
KAIN: I don`t think so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Meantime, you might say oh brother -- Michael Jackson`s brother Jermaine danced around Matt Lauer`s question about drug abuse rumors and what if the toxicology report confirmed them; that on NBC`s "Today Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, NBC HOST, "TODAY SHOW": Would you be shocked surprised? Would you be shocked?
JERMAINE JACKSON, BROTHER OF MICHAEL JACKSON: I would be hurt.
LAUER: Hurt why?
JACKSON: Because Michael has always been a person who was against anything like that.
LAUER: So you`re saying it`s possible?
JACKSON: I really don`t know, Matt. I really don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: To sort out all of this troubling and conflicting information, back out to my fantastic expert panel still here: Joe Tacopina, criminal defense attorney and former Michael Jackson attorney; Jim Moret, chief correspondent for "Inside Edition" and an attorney, as well; Lisa Bloom, CNN legal analyst and former anchor of "In Session." Joining me now Marc Schaffel, former Jackson business associate and adviser and confidante and joining me by phone, Dr. Cathleen London, board certified family practice physician.
Wow, I am so excited to have Marc Schaffel here. I have talked about you, read about you, reported on you for years and now suddenly you`re here on the show. It`s pretty mind-boggling.
I`m sure Jim Moret will share that sense of awe because we both -- were so involved with the Jackson trial. And your name came up so frequently in all of it. Especially your relationship with Michael Jackson as his confidante to helping him put together some crucial videos that he made.
What do you think, Marc, about all these claims that he was desperately seeking this drug that`s so powerful it`s only used in surgery?
MARC SCHAFFEL, FORMER MICHAEL JACKSON CONFIDANTE: Well, I mean, that would be a pretty shocking claim in the past things that I`ve known that`s been out that Michael has used, you know, I don`t believed were that powerful.
I mean, the drugs people have talked about OxyContin, Demerol, I mean they`re very powerful drugs but to the extent of that last one which I`ve never even heard of, I would find it pretty shocking. But it wouldn`t be an absolute surprise.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you`ve mentioned other drugs. What do you know about his drug use?
SCHAFFEL: Well, I mean, like I`ve mentioned before, anybody in the inner circle knew Michael had certain problems with pain and the drugs he liked to use. At the end of the day, you know, you can`t protect Michael from himself.
So even if the people around him had tried whatever ways they could to stop those kind of things from going on, at the end of the day, Michael`s very resourceful. And in any case, like somebody who was seeking drugs could find a way to get him, especially with his resources.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I guess what I`m asking you is you say you have or I`ve read reports you have hundreds of voice mails of Michael Jackson. You were his confidante, you met him. I know -- I mean listen, I`m a recovering alcoholic with 14 years of sobriety.
I can tell when somebody else has got a problem if I see them and if they`re drugged up, if they`re stoned, if they`re high. Did you ever see Michael on an occasional basis drugged up?
SCHAFFELL: Well, yes. I mean, in the inner circle we used to have a term -- I mean, there were days you couldn`t get Michael out of bed. And, you know, basically if we had something public to do or there were commitments or meetings to go to, you know, internally we would just basically say Michael was tired.
And it could have been because, you know, he was up all night, didn`t get to bed late, you know, took certain things to try to finally get to sleep and just end up, you know, couldn`t function in the morning. So, yes, I mean, there`s been multiple times I`ve seen him not in a normal state.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s talk about how this anesthetic, Propofol and the generic name is Diprivan works. Nurse Cherilyn Lee has been claiming that Michael Jackson begged her for it. And check this animation out from CNN`s Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: Think of it as a turbo-charged sleeping agent. It works by essentially putting the whole brain to rest. It`s a medically induced coma.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Cathleen London, essentially this nurse is saying that Michael Jackson sought to self-administer or home-administer a medically induced coma.
DR. CATHLEEN LONDON, BOARD CERTIFIED FAMILY PRACTICE PHYSICIAN: It`s unbelievable to me. And he didn`t learn about it on his own. It means that somebody gave it to him before, which is absolutely reprehensible, absolutely criminal negligence as far as I`m concerned.
And, you know, as physicians, we have an obligation to help protect our patients. There is not a drug on the market, whether over the counter or by prescription that doesn`t have bad side effects.
And so the fact that he was able to get all of these -- I mean the reports I`m hearing -- where Demerol was called in and the pharmacy would fill it without even having a patient name. This is absolutely astounding to me and really speaks that we need a national registry of all medications.
You know, if pharmacies can tell when my patients move across the country and know what drugs they`re on, then why aren`t all of those databases connected? It`s unbelievable.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well Lisa Bloom, the DEA is now investigating. What does that tell you? And what about these reports that Michael Jackson allegedly, according to some published reports -- I have no independent confirmation of this -- used phony names like Jack London as a prescription name and of course, that`s the famous author of the classic "Call of the Wild."
LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST & FORMER ANCHOR OF "IN SESSION": That`s right. Well first of all, he could be -- have been found guilty of doctor shopping if he had done that. Of course, he`s deceased now, so the big question is about the DEA. The LAPD, the local law enforcement agency sought out the Feds, sought out the DEA to get their help in this thing. For one thing, California where I just moved two days ago is financially strapped.
BLOOM: Thank you.
And all of the local law enforcement agencies are under a tremendous financial burden, so it makes perfect sense for them to say to the DEA which has far more money and resources, "Please come in, help us with this thing, it`s spinning out of control, this is a gigantic celebrity case."
The whole world is watching. We want to do this right. We want to get those toxicology results and if there`s wrong doing, we want to go after the doctors just like California did in the Anna Nicole case.
I think, they want to send a powerful message, they want to dot all their I`s, they want to cross all their T`s and they want to bring in the best possible agency to do it and that`s the DEA.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, what about, Marc Schaffel, I have to go back to you on this, Michael Jackson speaking in code. He used certain terms for money, for large sums of money because we`re hearing now these allegations that there were these interesting code names for prescriptions.
SCHAFFEL: Well, actually, all the code words I`ve heard, I`ve never heard ones pertaining to medical prescriptions or pills. So if that were the case, he must have had that with the doctors he was with at the time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about the price?
SCHAFFEL: The price or money...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about the "super size me"?
SCHAFFEL: "Super size me" was a lot of money, cash.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joe Tacopina, this is astounding to me that we`re actually getting some sense from talking to people who were confidantes -- confidantes of Michael Jackson about how he navigated his world using a word like "fries" to try to get money and then "super size it" meaning tons of money literally, correct me if I`m wrong, Mark Schaffel, duffel bags of money.
JOE TACOPINA, FORMER MICHAEL JACKSON ATTORNEY: Yes many duffel bags Jane -- but Jane, let me throw a little monkey wrench into all of that.
A lot of the people coming out of the closet, so-called confidantes of Michael were people who were nothing but leeches and people who have wanted to be close to sort of use Michael.
And Michael will, by any accounts, and my limited interaction was only based around this trial. I didn`t know Michael Jackson the superstar, I knew Michael Jackson the defendant. But it was clear that he was naive far beyond the normal standards.
And I will tell you that so many people, you know, who were close to him wound-up stealing from him or wound-up taking from him or taking advantage of him or using his name. So when you hear some of these stories, you really have to take it all with a grain of salt, because it`s funny that they all come on TV now...
TACOPINA: ...after he`s dead and he can`t defend himself. So I just say take it all with a grain of salt.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jim Moret ten seconds, final thought on all of this.
JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": I think it sends a very strong message when the DEA is brought in, that they`re looking specifically for drugs and drug abuse and prescription medication.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. I want to thank my fantastic panel for joining me, amazing insights.
The Jackson music catalog just got a whole lot bigger. A new report says there`s an endless supply of unreleased recordings sitting inside a vault. Can we expect a new album to drop soon?
And a memorial service planned. We`re going to give you the very latest details.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michael Jackson`s public memorial service set for this coming Tuesday at the Staple Center in Los Angeles. Now the question, how do you get in? We will have the answers in just moments.
But first tonight`s "Top of the Block."
With the king of pop`s record sales soaring, word now coming Jackson had a mountain of unreleased material -- that`s right -- unreleased material in a vault when he died. The find includes unused tracks from studio sessions in some of Jackson`s best-selling albums, as well as more recent recordings.
Sources say this treasure-trove of music could keep the world in Michael Jackson records for years to come eclipsing acts like Elvis and the Beatles. Even in death, it looks like Michael Jackson will live on forever.
That is tonight`s "Top of the Block".
Finally tonight: specific plans for a public memorial to commemorate the legendary pop superstar after days and days of speculation and miscommunication; it appears fans around the world will be able to pay tribute to Michael Jackson this coming Tuesday at the Staples Center in L.A. the very place where he was rehearsing shortly before he tragically died. Little else known about these plans.
Some reports seem to suggest it might be a for-profit venture -- this is a claim. It`s hard for me to believe that.
The Staples Center also happens to be the location where Jackson he rehearsed his show the very night before he died. In the vacuum of other details beyond a possible start time of 10:00 a.m., fans are asking, "How do we get in? Do we need tickets?"
What`s going on here? RadarOnline reporting fans will have to fork over $25 for a seat in the stands with family, friends, and VIPs filling up the seats on the main floor. Some are asking if charging fans to pay tribute to the "King of Pop" is the right way to honor him. And of course, the big question, who is going to profit from all of this?
Back with my panel: Joe Tacopina, former attorney for Michael Jackson and criminal defense attorney; Lisa Bloom, CNN legal analyst; and Jim Moret, chief correspondent for "Inside Edition" and an attorney.
Jim, first let`s address these reports from RadarOnline. I don`t have any independent confirmation of it nor does CNN. But they`re reporting that there could be ticket sales here, $25 a pop. It just boggles my mind if that`s true.
JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": Well, the arena holds 20,000 people, the sister arena, the Nokia holds about 7,000. AEG which owns and operates those arenas was also the same group that owns and operates the O2 which is where the London concerts were going to be. Maybe they wanted to make up some of the money they lost. I don`t know.
The bigger question is, we still don`t know so much. You know how much traffic there`s going to be downtown? There could be half million or more people downtown. Who is going to pay for police, for parking, for security, for all of the various things you`re going to need? There`s still so many questions.
It`s better here than at Neverland to be sure. But we still don`t know so much.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Lisa Bloom, certainly the taxpayers with the financial crisis that`s going on in California, they don`t want to see a massive tax bill for this.
LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. That`s right. Look $25 is not bad for the Staples Center. And I would think tickets at that price if it`s not even going for the family and friends who are in the good seats -- it`s for the people in the periphery -- that probably is only just about going to cover the costs of putting this thing on.
And usually the concert promoters...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you`re not offended?
BLOOM: No, I`m not offended. And even the concert promoters do have to pay for some of the traffic control and things like that.
And if it was free, Jane, I mean we could have potentially hundreds of thousands of people. So this may serve as a vehicle to keep it to a little bit smaller number of 25,000.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Somebody in there is sighing and groaning. I was offended when I...
JOE TACOPINA, FORMER MICHAEL JACKSON ATTORNEY: Me, that`s me.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I was offended...
TACOPINA: What? The concert promoters? This isn`t a concert. This isn`t a show, it is disgusting and grotesque.
BLOOM: But there are costs associated with this.
TACOPINA: Like when any celebrity dies -- look, this is not a minor celebrity, this was the quote-unquote, "King of pop," one of the most, if not the most popular entertainer of all time. When Elvis died, it was the same thing, when dignitaries die, that`s our society, that`s what we do. We build people up and we make them celebrities and that`s a cost of death, I guess.
But the fact of the matter is, to charge as this were an event where you need to buy tickets and go through brokers and there`ll be scalpers and to materialize a death like this would be despicable and disgusting. And I hope and I don`t think the Jackson family would have anything to do with this. But I sure hope no one else is getting some fancy ideas to make this his last concert and they`re going to play songs around his casket.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, apparently there`s going to be video according to some of the reports -- who knows. That`s part of the problem.
TMZ is reporting that the Jackson family will also hold a private funeral service at Forest Lawn Cemetery this coming Tuesday. E News claims Jackson`s body is already there, however a spokeswoman for Forest Lawn says Jackson`s body is not there.
Jim, why all the chaos and confusion surrounding this?
MORET: You know what? Every minute there`s a new story. First Debbie Rowe wants the kids, then her attorney says she`s hasn`t made a decision, it`s going to be at Neverland.
I`ll tell you something, the video that you were just playing of that last rehearsal. To me, that video is a promotional vehicle because we`ve already heard that there`s 100 hours of such video, and we can expect a DVD. We can expect another record. So all this does, to me, is whet your appetite for the next Michael Jackson album.
I`m becoming more cynical, but that`s how I see it.
TACOPINA: Is that okay, guys? AEG or whoever was going to promote these concerts, they`re out a lot of money. If they have footage that`s exclusive and (INAUDIBLE) so what; that`s not a big deal, I don`t think that`s...
BLOOM: And people want to buy them. Money is going to go to his kids.
TACOPINA: Exactly. He`s an entertainer.
BLOOM: The money will wipe out some of the debt and go to his kids. What`s wrong with that?
TACOPINA: Exactly. Or his creditors.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m amazed at how good he looks, Lisa Bloom. I`m amazed at how athletic he is just two days before his death.
BLOOM: Well, we have to get rid of this idea that addicts are guys in an alley, completely non-functional and drooling. Many people are highly functioning and are also addicts.
And I think that`s what we`re seeing when we see Jackson on stage. And then at other times, reportedly very frail, can`t get out of bed, can hardly move.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, everybody, stay right there. This is such a fascinating story. Michael Jackson, such a fascinating individual.
More on the tragic death of Michael Jackson, more analysis, and we`re going to tell you about reports on his coffin. You won`t believe this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON`S FATHER: We don`t have the time frame yet because I want to see how these autopsies are coming out, you know? It`s the second autopsy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joe Jackson -- I was asking our producers, any callers? I`m sure we do. That`s Joe Jackson Monday addressing the second autopsy requested by the Jackson family.
Do we know what is happening with that, Lisa Bloom? A second autopsy designed to give the family comfort and also to get some information in faster because apparently they can do the tissue and some of the other toxicology tests faster than the government can.
BLOOM: Yes. We`d all like to know those results, wouldn`t we, Jane? But we just do not know.
It will also be interesting if the private autopsy and the ordinary, you know, government autopsy come to different results. They shouldn`t. But one -- I would say the family may not be too happy if there are a lot of drugs and medications found in Michael Jackson`s body that might tarnish his legacy. They might be concerned about that.
Anything goes when it comes to this story and this family. But I think the autopsy results are going to be highly significant when we ever find out what they are.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Speaking of anything goes, TMZ now reporting that Jackson will be laid to rest in a $25,000 solid bronze 14 carat gold-plated custom casket. Reportedly it`s the same type of casket that James Brown was buried in. And we`re going to show it to you in a second. There it is; one similar to that essentially.
It`s very rare. It`s called a Promethean (ph) and will feature a flame blue velvet interior and a hand-polished mirror finish. Now, of course, this might all change by tomorrow, knowing the Jackson clan. But it does seem to indicate, Joe Tacopina, no expense spared.
TACOPINA: Why should there be? I mean, look, Michael lived a life that was extravagant. He had a merry-go-round in his backyard. So why shouldn`t he go out, I guess, the way he`s lived his life? You know, obviously I take absolutely no issue with that. I don`t anyone else should.
But no expense spared. I`m sure we`ll see a lot more of the hoopla. I`m sure there will be white horses and things of that nature in the procession as well.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We only have a couple of seconds. Jim Moret, give us a sense of what we can expect at the Staples Center next week.
MORET: I think that the casket just gives us a sense of the majesty, the extravagance, the celebration of life that I think that they want to put on in memory of this great artist and person who has a tremendous musical legacy.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. It`s going to be really a moment in history. You compared it to the Diana funeral yesterday. I think you`re absolutely right, Jim Moret. It`s going to be on that scale; an international global event.
Thank you, fantastic panel. You are watching ISSUES on HLN.