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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Reports Say Jackson Had Hospital-Strength Drugs
Aired July 3, 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 a mad and massive effort to put together a memorial fit for a king. Furious preparations underway in the 20,000-seat Staples Center in Los Angeles for a worldwide broadcast. Fans around the globe racing to be among the lucky 17,000 who will get a free ticket to be part of what cops are calling a phenomenal undertaking. Officials pleading, if you don`t get a ticket, don`t come.
And death probe drama. The LAPD facing criticism for how they initially handled this intense investigation. Why was the rented mansion not immediately declared a crime scene? Why was Janet Jackson reportedly allowed to take items out of the home before they searched it? Now, the California attorney general, Jerry Brown, diving into the probe to dig for answers surrounding the dangerous drug allegations.
This as stunning news is made by concert promoter AEG about a jaw- dropping insurance policy it took out on the King of Pop. The details will surprise you.
Then a custody battle controversy. While Debbie Rowe decides whether to seek custody of her two children with the pop icon, a former Jackson publicist says the kids might not even know she`s their mother. We`ll talk to Stuart Backerman about his outrageous claim.
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wild developments on numerous fronts tonight as we continue to focus on the life and death of the King of Pop. The mystery surrounding Michael Jackson`s death continues to swirl. But tonight, we have confirmation from the Associated Press that sources say a powerful surgical drug, Diprovan, was found inside Michael Jackson`s home after he died.
Plus, a shocking revelation that, in the mid-90s, the insomniac singer would travel the world with his own mini medical clinic. Sources tell CNN`s Dr. Sanjay Gupta that the mobile med unit included an IV drip pole and two doctors: one who administered the drug to Jackson.
Here`s Dr. Gupta with CNN`s Anderson Cooper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Is it odd to you as a medical doctor to have an anesthesiologist with somebody on a tour?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Completely odd. No question. Very odd. And to have all that equipment, as well. I never heard of such a thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This as a devastated close friend of the superstar speaks out about how he tried to get Michael Jackson to stop his self- destructive behavior.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
URI GELLER, FRIEND OF MICHAEL JACKSON: I was the only person, I believe, in Michael Jackson`s career, maybe beside his father, that shouted at Michael. I screamed at him. And I used the words, "Michael if you continue this, you will die. Michael, if you don`t stop, this will kill you."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Meantime, the LAPD catching heat for what they didn`t do. They didn`t immediately declare Michael Jackson`s home a crime scene, put that yellow tape around it. They didn`t seal off the mansion. They didn`t get search warrants, and they apparently didn`t stop his sister Janet from reportedly removing items from the home before their search was completed.
L.A. cops say they were following proper procedure, as there was no evidence a crime had occurred. What? Is that still the way it stands tonight? The LAPD is, by the way, getting more company in their investigation. First, it was the DEA, Drug Enforcement Administration. Now the state`s attorney general has stepped in to help track down doctors who may have supplied Michael Jackson with prescription drugs. Could we soon see criminal charges similar to those related to the Anna Nicole Smith case?
I want to hear what you think about all this. But first, straight out to my fantastic expert panel: Jim Moret, chief correspondent for "Inside Edition" and attorney; Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, author of "And Justice for Some," and professor at New England School of Law. And we`re delighted to have Stuart Backerman. Michael Jackson`s spokesman from 2002 through 2004 joins me by phone. We`re also equally delighted to have Stacey Brown, former Jackson family friend and co-author, "Michael Jackson: Man Behind the Mask."
Stacey, so many reports coming in. What do you know about these claims that Michael Jackson was self-medicating with a surgical drug, Diprovan, that is supposed to be used only in hospitals for anesthesia during surgery?
STACEY BROWN, AUTHOR, "MICHAEL JACKSON: MAN BEHIND THE MASK": Well, Jane, as you know, the family famously had concerns about Michael`s drug use, and when the Santa Barbara authorities raided Neverland, they took away bags containing drugs, as well. So this is not a shocker that there was drugs involved in this situation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, when a story as massive as Michael Jackson`s death breaks, the media leaves no stone unturned when it comes to trying to uncover information. Listen to what former Jackson family attorney Brian Oxman told me earlier this week regarding Jackson`s alleged history of prescription drug abuse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Have you ever seen, for example, needle marks on Michael Jackson, Brian?
BRIAN OXMAN, FORMER JACKSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: I am afraid to say yes, that is correct. The problem is that some of these injections, which were really the subject of the trial in Santa Maria and were testified to by the police about the records which they found, by the vials of drugs which they had found. They`re really not all that startling new.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, the "L.A. Times" took me to task for this conversation with Brian Oxman, saying it`s important to further clarify that Oxman was specifically referring to injection sites that came to light during the Jackson molestation trial. Sounds like he sort of said that, didn`t it?
I would suggest that critics direct their outrage towards something actually meaningful, like prescription drug abuse. It happens to be a national crisis. If we can learn from this tragic situation, guess what? That might be the best tribute we could ever give to Michael Jackson, so that he would not have died in vein.
But to learn about prescription drug abuse, guess what people? We`ve got to talk bit. It`s not unreasonable to ask somebody who spent a whole lot of time around the Jackson family if he knew anything about published claims making headlines of needle marks on Jackson`s body. If it turns out the information he was referring to was from the trial, all the more relevant. Again, save your outrage for the real problem: drugs and drug abuse.
Wendy, is this tragedy not an extreme example of what`s happening all over the country with prescription drug abuse?
WENDY MURPHY, LAW PROFESSOR/AUTHOR: Yes, and you know, even though I`m not an expert in this field, just listening to folks talk about what this is an example of, as really a hidden epidemic, I think should make us all very nervous.
You know, it`s also about wealth and the ability to pay for things to happen that the rest of us can`t afford. We can`t hire a private anesthesiologist to go on a trip with us and hang a bag of drugs. One of my dear friends is an anesthesiologist, and she wouldn`t do it. So there`s another issue: why are doctors succumbing to the dollar and causing this kind of grievous harm to a person just because they can pay? When, indeed, you know, what happened to that oath: do no harm; first, do no harm?
I think it`s grotesque. I think it`s really sad that an awful lot of people are being criticized for telling the truth about Jackson even now. Very few said anything before he died. Those who are trying to make, you know -- make some, you know, silver lining come from this tragedy are being criticized. That rubs me the wrong way. I think we need to learn from this.
And I hope there are criminal prosecutions. It`s too bad somebody can`t be prosecuted for manslaughter, although that remains to be seen.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me ask Stuart Backerman, who was Michael Jackson`s spokesman from 2002-2004, about another report just out from TMZ, this just hitting the wires a couple of minutes ago. Michael Jackson, according to TMZ, made the rounds of L.A. doctors` offices often, getting anesthesia for minor out-patient procedures, procedures that did not require anesthesia.
Again, I have no independent confirmation of any of this. This is a TMZ report. But they say medical sources tell them Jackson would get cosmetic surgery, collagen injections, Botox, and acne treatment, for which he would often be put under, even when it is not medically necessary.
Your thoughts, Stuart Backerman?
STUART BACKERMAN, FORMER JACKSNO SPOKESMAN (via phone): Well, I didn`t ever see any evidence of that. I didn`t see him run around doing that myself, so there`s no direct evidence from my point of view.
However, what I think people are missing in terms of this whole discussion of prescription drugs is that, let`s go back to 1984. Michael is doing the Pepsi commercial. His hair was burnt off. His scalp is scalded badly. He gets prescribed a pain medication, EG Demerol, and this happens every day to many people. In Michael`s case, I believe partly because of his insecurities and the pressures that he had in his life, and partially because it made him feel pretty good, that initial pain medication to address the pain that he had became a ritual.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Essentially, Stuart, you`re saying that he obviously developed this because he suffered had suffered this severe pain, and he needed to medicate for legitimate reasons. And as often happens, what starts out as legitimate pain medication becomes self-medication.
And Jim Moret, I say this as a recovering alcoholic with 14 years of sobriety. I have tremendous compassion for addicts. I am an addict. You`re never cured; you only get a daily reprieve. But if we`re going to discuss it, we have to discuss the ugly details. Things like needle marks, things like getting put under, allegedly, for a procedure that doesn`t require it.
MORET: Well, and we heard Brian Oxman. I`ve spoken to him, as well. He said very similar things to me. I think a number of people around Michael Jackson were very concerned that he was abusing drugs. I don`t know that anybody new Diprovan or something like this may have been among those drugs.
But when -- this really raises the stakes, Jane. When you`re talking about a drug that`s generally administered with a doctor or two doctors, rather -- one to give you the drug and another to watch your breathing -- I mean, that`s a lot harder to hide than simply a Demerol pill that you can pop whenever you want. So -- and we don`t know, by the way, until the toxicology reports how and why Michael Jackson died.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. We`ve got to wait for those. And they shouldn`t be in for a couple of weeks, at least. Maybe four to six.
Panel, sit tight, as we continue to unravel the shocking allegations of drug abuse, as the investigation into the death of Michael Jackson moves forward in earnest. Now I want to hear your thoughts. Give me a holler: 1-877-JVM-SAYS; 1-877-586-7297. Tell me what you think.
Plus millions have reportedly already begun to overwhelm the Staples Center Web site, in the hopes of being one of the lucky 17,500 to get a free ticket to the memorial next week. What can we expect? I will have the latest.
But first, here`s a very healthy-looking Michael Jackson in one of the last rehearsals of this life, just two days before he died.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL JACKSON, POP STAR: I`ve been (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and I am strong. As you may already know, after my tour ended, I remained out of the country, undergoing treatment for dependency on pain medication. This medication was initially prescribed to sooth the excruciating pain I was suffering pain after recent reconstructive surgery on my scalp.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michael Jackson admitting to drug addiction during a video address made available to the public in 1993, during which he denied sexually molesting a 13-year-old boy, as well. The big question: was he self medicating at the time of his death? Were doctors helping him in violation of the law? Are criminal charges forthcoming?
Phone lines lighting up. Shauna, Colorado, your question or thought, ma`am.
CALLER: Hi, Jane.
CALLER: My question is, since this physician was tending with Michael Jackson when he passed away, if the Diprovan is found in this system, will the physician be charged with murder, or could he just get away with malpractice?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, first of all, let`s say we don`t know who this physician is. And we certainly do not want to presume that names that have been mentioned in terms of doctors who were there, or a doctor there, is involved in this whatsoever, because his attorneys have said he did absolutely nothing wrong, and he has not -- he is not accused of anything.
It`s not even a criminal investigation, Wendy Murphy. I mean, police didn`t even put yellow police tape around -- around the home and declare it a crime scene. They let Janet Jackson reportedly walk out with items, along with other relatives.
MURPHY: Yes, and that`s too bad. Because if anyone is ultimately charged, they`re going to have an awful lot of reasonable doubt to work with, because it wasn`t preserved as a crime scene.
You know, I don`t know what to say about the doctor. I know that the drug we`re talking about, this so-called anesthetic drug that puts you out quickly and you come out of it sort of feeling refreshed. I`ve been reading that it dissipates quite quickly. So they may not find it. In other words, it may have killed him, but it may not show up in the autopsy.
But here`s where I think there might well be a very good criminal case. It is a crime, and this is also part of the investigation now. It is a crime to prescribe controlled substances to an addict. So if -- you know, I don`t know what the evidence is, but I`d love for some time in the near future, the prosecutor who takes over, whether it`s a state or federal official, line up every doctor who knew Michael Jackson was an addict and prescribe a controlled substance to him. Do a perp walk with every one of them. Put them on the front page of a newspaper. Bring them in for criminal charges. They won`t go to prison, but boy, it might go far to stopping other doctors from doing this to their patients.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Jim Moret now we have three agencies investigating. We heard yesterday the Drug Enforcement Administration. Now we`re hearing Jerry Brown, California`s attorney general, and he`s going to be using a high-tech system that gets data on scripts and doctors, the same system that resulted in charges against two doctors in the Anna Nicole Smith case.
MORET: Right. And that`s the one saving grace with the -- with the items that were taken from the house. You know what? There are a lot of things that are consistent but seemingly unrelated. Diprovan may or may not have been in the house. A.P. is reporting it was in the house. This mini clinic that CNN is now reporting traveled with Michael Jackson some ten years ago. The $100,000 bill that Michael Jackson ran up at a pharmacy.
You know, there area lot of red flags here. And I suppose that the gatekeepers haven`t been doing their job, because how could one pharmacy not think something`s wrong, if in fact they were owed $100,000? Who uses that amount of medication?
BROWN: And he -- you know, he also -- like you showed that video. He admitted to being an addict. And Wendy had a great point. These doctors, they can`t say they did not know that he was an addict. He had been an addict since the Pepsi commercial that Stuart Backerman brought up. Because he became addicted then, and he admitted to it in that 1993 tape you showed, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Stacey, obviously, he had a lot of people around him who loved him. His siblings loved him. And I also know, as a recovering alcoholic, nobody can help you unless you want to get help. But we`ve heard all this talk that there were attempts at interventions. What do you know about that?
BROWN: Jane, absolutely. There were various attempts at intervention. And you know, I write a media column, and I`ve been following the Jackson case, obviously, for the "Times-Tribune" in Scranton, Pennsylvania. And I wrote today, Jermaine Jackson talked about how he wished it was him.
And guess what? You should take Jermaine face value at that, because I contend that, had he allowed his family into that inner circle, particularly Jermaine Jackson, Michael Jackson, we wouldn`t be talking about him in the past tense right now. Jermaine loved him, and Jermaine would have protected him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ricky, Florida, your question or thought?
CALLER: Well, mine pertains to Debbie Rowe. I`m -- I was just wondering if she`s included in the funeral arrangements. Are they going to allow her to come to the funeral, because they`re in the battle of custody?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, wow. Jim Moret, want to take a shot at that one?
MORET: Wow. Well, all we know about the funeral is it`s taking place on Tuesday, the memorial service. We were specifically told we`ll get no information. We do know that the Staples Center holds 11,000 people and only -- I`m sorry, 20,000 people; 11,000 tickets are being given away. And the rest are going to be for the family.
You know, that`s a really good question. I would suspect -- this is a guess -- she may be there because we can assume that they`re talking now, Katherine and Debbie Rowe. And they`d want to work out some resolution.
MURPHY: Yes. And let me say this. Bet she`ll show up as long as they give her a check.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, Wendy. Let me ask you this question, though. I want to get back to this criticism of the LAPD, that they didn`t declare it a crime scene, that they didn`t put the yellow tape around it, that they didn`t stop family members from leaving.
If, in fact, they did leave with two bags of medical evidence, which has been reported, and prescriptions, but yet there were plenty of other things that were taken away, isn`t that a tainted crime scene and doesn`t that pretty much put everything up in the air?
MURPHY: And then some. I`m shocked, actually. I remember watching the news, and the reporters were actually saying, "I can`t believe it. Janet Jackson just showed up and went in and took out bags of stuff and left, and no one even said anything to her." She`ll probably say, "Yes, I went in to get clothes and toys for the kids." You know, I`m sure she`ll have a plausible explanation.
But then there was a report that the garage was being flushed with water. I don`t even know what that means, but how do you let that happen when a guy died so young?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think it`s called celebrity intimidation. Intimidated by celebrity. Even the cops can feel that.
Michael Jackson leaves a very complicated legacy behind. We`ll have more, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON`S FATHER: We don`t have a time frame here, because I want to see how this autopsy is coming out. You know? The second autopsy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: With Michael Jackson`s second autopsy still pending, rumors run rampant as to how he did. Many are asking what`s truth and what`s fiction?
My next guest spent time with the King of Pop during some of the most tumultuous years of his life. Stuart Backerman, Michael Jackson`s former spokesman, joins me by phone.
First of all, I want to say, Stuart, I thank you and applaud you for speaking out at this difficult time. I know it`s got to be tough for you. And you must be very conflicted about it. But I think -- I will repeat, I think we need to talk about these things honestly. We`re only as sick as our secrets. The more we get out, the more society can learn. And hopefully, somebody can avoid a similar fate.
You worked with Michael; you spent time with him at Neverland. In the midst of all the chaos, were there happy moments, and were there moments of total innocence?
BACKERMAN: You know, Jane, Michael had conflicts, clearly. Unfortunately, he didn`t have the strength, the internal strength, in the end, to really overcome those insecurities. We all have insecurities, but Michael couldn`t overcome them. He had childhood issues, the powerful effect of prescription drugs over time, the general stresses of life. In his case, they were more than others in terms of money, the upcoming concert, the trial and what happened, his feelings.
People don`t realize that that trial devastated him. Things that were said in court, the way he had to face them each day in court, really, really blew him away. And so, you know, going away to Bahrain was really, in essence, running away.
But he was really a good person. He wanted to do the good thing. His philanthropic giving, the way he really gave to people that I saw. The way he treated me, for example. There were plenty of times where I pinched myself and said, you know, this guy is great. And unfortunately, there were other times where I -- you know, he would almost, like, look through me, and I wasn`t sure he even knew who I was, in essence. And being disloyal sometimes to people.
And this goes to -- I think it was Stacey`s point that -- or somebody`s that gatekeepers weren`t doing their job with Michael. And in a sense that`s true. However, what people have to understand is that Michael did what Michael wanted to do. Friends and family, and close colleagues were intimidated to talk to Michael over time. Because if he didn`t like what you said, you were out.
There was a number of times where, you know, you`d have a conversation with him, not me particularly but other people, said something that he didn`t like, not necessarily in terms of, you know, "stop taking prescription drugs, Michael," but you know, any number of things, in terms of his career, et cetera. And you were locked out. You were never able to get in touch with him again. So that -- and people didn`t want that to happen. Because, you know, they wanted to feel close to Michael, in some sense. And the financial aspect of it.
And so it was difficult to talk to Michael about sensitive things, in particular something about drug use that people weren`t 100 percent sure of what the degree it was, et cetera. And so, you know -- you know, it wasn`t easy, really, dealing with those issues because like I say, Michael sometimes would cut you right out. You had to be really cautious about what you said and picked the right day and picked the right moment to really express yourself.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think it`s true with a lot of people, is that to be a real friend you have to risk losing a friendship and not be an enabler.
Stuart, again, I appreciate your honesty and your candor. Stay right there.
An intense custody battle may be brewing as we await word on whether or not Debbie Rowe will apply for custody. We will have the very latest developments on all these fronts when we come right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. AL SHARPTON, JACKSON FAMILY FRIEND: It is the determination of the family to be careful and deliberate on how they plan his celebration of life because we`re talking about a historic figure that really changed pop culture around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN ANCHOR: Will Debbie Rowe battle Michael Jackson`s beloved mother, Katherine, for custody of her two children? Details in just moments.
But first a mad and massive scramble to put together a memorial fit for a king or at least the "King of Pop." Furious preparations are underway at the 20,000-seat Staples Center in LA for a worldwide broadcast. Fans around the globe race to be among the lucky 17,500 who will get a free ticket for what cops are calling a phenomenal undertaking.
Officials are pleading, if you don`t have a ticket, do not try to go to the Staples Center.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASST. CHIEF EARL PAYSINGER, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: If you do not have a ticket, if you are not credentialed; not only will you not be allowed at these venues, you will not be allowed in this area.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is the City of Angels, which is currently suffering a huge economic crisis, prepared for an event of this magnitude? And will Jackson`s millions of fan be satisfied with this lottery ticket solution, I want to hear what you think about all this.
Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: Stacy Brown, a former Jackson family friend and co-author of Michael Jackson`s "The Man Behind the Mask;" Tanya Acker, attorney and blogger for the "Huffington Post;" and Jim Moret, chief correspondent for "Inside Edition" and an attorney; and with us again by phone, Stuart Backerman, former spokesperson for the "King of Pop" joining me by telephone.
Tanya Acker, the PR company says -- once they said register at staplescenter.com. The number of hits they got in the first hour and a half, 500 million hits; approximately 120,000 hits per second. What does that tell you about Michael Jackson?
TANYA ACKER, ATTORNEY: It tells us that you know look, notwithstanding all of the latter day controversies and some of the troubling and bizarre behavior, this man was an icon. He was a historical figure; he remains beloved by people around the world.
We`ve really haven`t seen this sort of outpouring, this kind of excitement about attending a big public event frankly since the inauguration. I mean, that was the last time that people were clamoring for tickets to go pay homage to someone.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re absolutely right.
ACKER: And this is really extraordinary. This is extraordinary.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go through the details because I think everybody is sort of, "I want to know how this is going to work." There`s 17,503 tickets; 11,000 tickets for the Staples Center itself -- that`s where the memorial will occur -- 6,500 for the smaller Nokia Theater nearby. You have to register, again, at staplescenter.com along with the 500 million other hits that it`s gotten. 8,750 names will be randomly selected to get two tickets each.
Let`s consider the logistics here. This is Los Angeles, one of the most congested traffic cities on the planet. The event will be at the Staples Center where they simulcast at the smaller theater nearby. That intersection of the 10 and the 110, as you well know Jim Moret, is bedlam on an average day.
How crazy could this get on Tuesday?
JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": Well look, we`ve seen this kind of thing before. We`ve seen the Laker parade that was recently held in Los Angeles, some half a million people showed up for that. Now that cost $2 million for security and other ancillary services.
And initially, everyone was outraged that taxpayer would be used. Here nobody seems to be raising a voice but it is still outrageous that taxpayer money would be used.
But this venue is where they have the Grammies every year. So there is a plan in place to shut-off several blocks around the venue, that`s what`s going to happen here. If you don`t have your ticket, you don`t have your wrist band, you don`t get in.
But, the LAPD made it very clear, they`re still expecting about as many people who showed up for the Laker parade -- maybe even more -- that a half a million to maybe 750,000 people in this area. That is a mess.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And by the way, we`re told no funeral procession and the reports that I`ve read said his body will not be at the Staple Center. They`re going to actually have a private service earlier before the big event at Staples Center.
You know, we are not hearing Stacy Brown, any of the details about what`s going to happen at Tuesday`s memorial service. But I kind of compare this to Princess Diana`s funeral. I know others including Jim has made that comparison.
I was there over in London when she was laid to rest and it was unbelievable. The outpouring -- people on lines waiting on queue, standing to pay tribute to her, waiting for hours. Of course, she was be loved by millions, her funeral was viewed by a global audience and she as well died under controversial circumstances. In her case, celebrities like Elton John performed.
What do you expect to see at the Staples Center in terms of the stars who will turn out and possible performances because they`re not saying a word?
STACY BROWN, JACKSON`S FAMILY FRIEND: Jane, it`s going to be a who`s who. And I`m sure those celebrities who are left out will probably be trying to put their names in that lottery. But this is going to be Princess Diana 20 times over.
Only thing is that you won`t have the body here. And I`ll tell you what, it once again solidifies something I have said -- and maybe Tanya was kind of alluding to it -- Michael Jackson was really the Beatles, Elvis and the Rolling Stones all wrapped up into one. And this is the culmination of the true "King of Pop, Rock and Soul."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And apparently Jim Moret, this could also turn into some sort of DVD? Or some kind of -- there`s a whole bunch of ideas that are floating around. Or maybe you could give us the rundown. I mean, we`re talking about his final rehearsals that we`re looking at right now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s shot on high-def, that`s in a vault apparently at the Staples Center. Then could this memorial service also become part of something that ends up being a commercial venture?
MORET: The memorial service could. However, as you`ve mentioned, AEG, the company that not only owns and operates the Staple and Nokia but also the O2 arena and obviously had an interest in this concert series. They have about 100 hours, we`re told, of footage of Michael Jackson`s rehearsals, DVD, HD quality. They could release an album, they could release a DVD, it could be a film. You`re going to have stuff from the Sony vault coming out and being released.
We`re going to hear Michael Jackson music in some form or another, new music, for years and years to come.
ACKER: That`s correct.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know we haven`t got a lot of details about this memorial is going to look like. But I have to run through a couple of possibilities here.
Perhaps I think we`ve got some video of this, perhaps we could have a performance by Diana Ross. Ok, she was one of Michael Jackson`s closest confidantes. And also we could have performances by others. For example, I would love to see Paul McCartney. He did duets. Right, Stacy Brown?
BROWN: Yes, he did. And there was a rumor about three months ago that Michael was changing his will, of all things and this was three months ago, to will the Beatles catalog back to McCartney because he supposedly said, that it was the right thing to do.
So it`ll be very interesting and I`ve heard Paul recently make some really good comments about Michael Jackson. And you know that Jane, you know that relationship had been strained for years.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, I just think this is going to be such an amazing event, Tanya. I think it`s going to go down in history and I ponder -- we only have 20 seconds but give us a sense of what Michael`s legacy will ultimately be.
ACKER: I think that what we`re seeing right now is just incredible outpouring of excitement by fans and a really -- a need to want to pay homage to him and to pay tribute. He`s beating records; he`s like on the blockbuster charts again.
I think this is just the beginning of the new Michael Jackson juggernaut. Because we`re going to see videos, we`re going to hear more music and we`re going to have more -- more Michael for the fans basically and more music. And I think that that`s the good thing here as we`ll be able to remember him for the music.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everyone stay right there, more to come.
Los Angeles City officials ask for cost support to help pay for expenses associated with the Jackson memorial. As California quickly gone from IOUs to donations, please it`s a wild story and it`s just getting started.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Will there be a custody battle over Michael Jackson`s kids? We will have answers in just moments.
But first, tonight`s "Top of the Block."
The final arrangements for Michael Jackson`s massive public memorial at the Staples Center are underway. More than 17,000 tickets will be given out free of charge. So who is footing the bill? The citizens of the City of Angels, Los Angeles.
The debt-ridden city will have to pay megabucks to provide non-police services for the event that could draw up to 100,000 mourners, things like sanitation. City officials urge fans please, watch from your own home.
Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry, made this appeal for what she termed cost support.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAN PERRY, LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL: The city would deeply appreciate help to offset what are the incremental costs, the non-police costs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So if you want to send them a check, send it to the City of Los Angeles. Will the city be able to find private funding for this very public funeral? Or will taxpayers have to foot the bill? We will have to wait and see.
That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."
Money: perhaps the motivating factor in a looming custody battle over the heirs to the "King of Pop`s" kingdom. Debbie Rowe, Michael`s ex-wife and the mother of his two oldest children told a Los Angeles reporter that she wants her kids. Rowe`s attorney has since said she still has not made a decision on whether or not to fight for custody.
Debbie has flip-flopped on her maternal involvement before ever since she gave Jackson sole custody of the kids after their divorce, that reportedly in exchange for an $8.5 million check.
Could her renewed interest in her kids be about cash? Listen to what CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom said on this show, just last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The fact that all of a sudden she is stepping back she and her attorney is 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Indeed and let`s not forget what Michael Jackson`s wishes were. According to his will, he wanted his mom Katherine to be the guardian of his kids.
Jackson`s brother, Jermaine, spokes to Larry King about those very wishes last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What do you make of the ex-wife possibly seeking custody?
JERMAINE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON`S BROTHER: Well, see Larry, the will is what it is. And the will was really written well and it was executed by the executors and they did a great job. That`s what it is.
KING: So you don`t think she has a shot?
JACKSON: No, no, because this is what Michael wanted. If we`re looking at Michael and this is all about Michael, this is what he wanted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unfortunately, sometimes we don`t get what we want. Legal experts say Rowe has a shot at custody. But I will talk one-on-one to a Jackson insider who says, Prince Michael and Paris don`t even know Debbie is their mom.
I`m back with my fantastic panel: Wendy Murphy, a former prosecutor; Jim Moret, chief correspondent for "Inside Edition;" and on the phone we`re delighted to have Stuart Backerman, former Jackson family spokesperson.
Stuart, I want to get straight something that you reportedly said earlier today. And that is do Prince Michael and Paris know that Debbie Rowe is their mother or not?
STUART BACKERMAN, FORMER JACKSON FAMILY SPOKESPERSON (via telephone): I don`t believe that she does -- that they do. The understanding within the Jackson`s camp all along was that she wasn`t known as the mother; that Debbie was known as a close friend or a relative.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But she did have some limited visitation. I think it`s been several years, maybe three years, since she`s seen the kids shortly after Jackson`s acquittal and when he was sort of in that Bahrain/Ireland phase. But when they saw her in those limited visitations how was she presented? As friend of the family?
BACKERMAN: I believe so, I mean, it might have been like a relative as opposed to merely just a friend of the family; somebody who was close but not related.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wendy Murphy, what do you make of that?
WENDY MURPHY, CONTRIBUTOR, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: They don`t live under a rock. They are 11 and 12. I suspect they know. But you know what?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But in a way, Wendy, they do live under a rock in the sense that they were very shielded.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Going out with masks, kept from the public. It`s not like they`re going to go run out and grab a copy of, "The New York Post" anywhere.
MURPHY: I understand that but what I`m saying is I don`t think they`re stupid. If the whole world knows that she`s their mother, I suspect they do.
But I wouldn`t even call her the mother. I would like to call her a jail bird for having tried to sell the kids twice. Indeed she really did sell them. She gave them up for a bunch of money the first time then she saw a moment to exploit after the molestation trial and she said, "I cared about the well being of the children now that this claims have come out. I think I`ll go get custody," and walked away again with another big check.
This is the most compelling legal argument, that she is the mother because she birthed them and apparently they`re her biological children. But she is, ironically enough, the least desirable of all the candidates because she has treated them like bags of trading material at a swap meet. She has not treated them as human beings.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Jim Moret, Lisa Bloom is suggesting that she might be doing it again.
MURPHY: Well, you know what -- I`m sorry -- I`m sorry, go ahead.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jim, Jim weigh in on that though.
MORET: No, I was going to say you`re being cynical. But -- I don`t know -- look, the fact is, she is the biological mom. Then there is the presumption that she should get the kids under California law.
Whether she`s right to have them, whether she is the best person for the kids -- really I think the welfare of the children has to be paramount.
Look, I think that the judge is going to -- either ask for a counsel to represent these kids or to have an evaluation done. I really think that you need to talk certainly to the 11 and 12-year-old.
I have an 11-year-old and if anything were to happen to me or my wife, I`m sure that he would have a very strong view of where he wanted to live. They know Katherine as their grandmother, she`s very loving. Michael Jackson stated as much. He worshiped his mom and they are also around other family members and other kids.
And if these two kids go to Debbie Rowe, you`re going to split the three children up because she`s only the biological parent of two of the kids and that would just be horrible.
MURPHY: It`s not going to happen though, Jim. Look, it is a presumption in law but that`s based on a long history where we used to pick the mother because that was usually the best person. That presumption gives way quickly especially in a case like this, you know Debbie Rowe, by the way, said during the molestation trial, "they don`t call me mom." Why not? "Because I don`t want them to, I gave them to Michael. I don`t want them to call me mom."
Are you kidding me? If she dares to go in front of a judge and ask for custody I think he`ll throw her out on her ear and I would if I was the judge.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I wouldn`t necessarily guarantee that unfortunately remember when she wanted to get her parental rights reinstated? Ultimately she did.
MURPHY: But Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And remember there are some reports she made another deal. But let me go back to Stuart Backerman.
MURPHY: Only because it`s illegal to sell your children. She tried. But it`s illegal to do what she tried to do. That`s why she got her rights back.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
MURPHY: That doesn`t make her mother of the year.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stuart, you were very close to this family. You were the spokesman in 2002 to 2004, a very rocky time. What do you know about Debbie Rowe and what about this theory that Lisa Bloom advances -- but also I read it in various columns in the papers -- that essentially she`s now saying, oh, I want the kids but then her lawyer comes out and says well, maybe not, we haven`t decided. Let`s push the hearing back a week so that she can negotiate some kind of deal.
BACKERMAN: Debbie Rowe is not a fool. Number one, she has come to Michael`s assistance in two very important occasions, number one during the Martin Bashir situation as I recall when there was a furor about the picture of Diesel Boy. She came on camera and did an interview whereby she said very clearly that Michael would never harm a child. That was very important. That helped amongst other things to dissipate the situation at that time.
And number two, during the trial of course, it was her testimony frankly and her support of Michael as a parent, as a person that was frankly very critical.
And so she loves Michael. She loved Michael. I don`t believe she`s going to attempt a custody here because she`ll be stirring the pot. She doesn`t want to make trouble. Now, somebody mentioned on your panel that maybe some settlement, some monetary settlements...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right -- all right well, hang on.
We got to the good part and we have to go to commercial break. But figure out your answers when we come right back. We`re going to give it to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE JACKSON, FATHER OF MICHAEL JACKSON: We`ve got all those kids at their sides. We love those kids. And we love those kids too. And Debbie Rowe has nothing to do with what we`re doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michael Jackson`s dad Joe, saying Debbie Rowe, butt out, you`ve got nothing to do with this.
Straight to my expert panel -- but does he -- we`re talking to Stuart Backerman, Michael Jackson`s former spokesman for two crucial years 2002 to 2004.
So Stuart, my question to you was, do you think Debbie Rowe is threatening to get custody to win some kind of a deal, make -- get a payment?
BACKERMAN: I think it`s possible obviously, because like most people, Debbie is concerned about finances, et cetera. However, I don`t believe that that`s really behind her mind. I think she`s probably more confused than anything else. Because clearly she loves the kids from the point of view of they`re her biological children.
And yet on the other hand...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Clearly she loves the kids Wendy, I`m sorry. I don`t mean to drop you Stuart. But Wendy -- I know Wendy is jumping...
MURPHY: Oh, my God. And that`s a curious way to show love. And let me tell you, dumping them for $8 million. Going back to squeeze the Jacksons for more money after the molestation trial and oops now she loves them again that there`s another opportunity for money.
Look, I wrote all about this in my column where you may have also seen it at Jane at thedailybeast.com yesterday. I wrote all of this. I agree with Lisa Bloom. It`s so obvious.
You think last week, when Michael Jackson first died, Debbie Rowe`s attorney said we`re trying to get in touch with the Jackson`s. That was a statement to the press, meant to provoke them to give a call we want to make a deal.
Apparently the Jacksons didn`t call so what did they do next. Debbie Rowe gives a statement Thursday morning, "I`m going to seek custody of my children." By the end of the day Thursday, her lawyer was saying, "Oh she hasn`t really made up her mind."
Let`s read between the lines. It`s not that complicated, they obviously got the phone call and there`s a check in the mail.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, wait a second. I think Jim Moret, this is obviously all speculation, we have no idea what she`s going to do or why she`s doing it. This is a theory being advanced.
But suffice it to say Jim, do you think she was hurt that she wasn`t included in the will, that she was the only person specifically omitted given what Stuart said. That she came to his aid during the Jackson trial. She was supposed to be a prosecution witness. She gets on the stand, she says he`s a great dad and pretty much people credited that with in large part getting him acquitted.
MORET: Look, you could argue she was paid for those services, I don`t mean to be so blunt.
MORET: But she had a deal with him and there`s some question about whether he`s made those payments, maybe that`s an issue and maybe she has money problems. I do think that you can glean from this that they are talking.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have to stop it right there.
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