Michael Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe, the mother of his two older children, has been subpoenaed to testify in his child-molestation case, sources tell me.
Rowe, mother of Prince Michael and Paris Katherine, was served at her attorney's office about two weeks ago by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon.
This turn of events ratchets up the animosity between Rowe and Jackson even more — if that's possible.
In October, Jackson refused to pay Rowe her annual alimony payment of about $1 million, claiming that she had breached the confidentiality clause in their divorce agreement.
His specific complaint was that Rowe had appeared on "Entertainment Tonight," although the piece was about her horses and the sale of her home.
The alimony payment is said to have been placed in escrow by Jackson, but no proof has been offered of that so far.
Jackson's non-payment to Rowe came at the same time that he cut off other financial obligations, including a major one to his ex-criminal attorney Steve Cochran.
Jackson's former partner Marc Schaffel, who had been receiving installment payments on money he was owed until he was cut off months ago, is also suing him.
Randy Jackson, Michael's brother and adviser, is said to be behind the abrupt belt-tightening.
In Rowe's case, however, the cessation of payments follows a long line of contention between the former spouses. Jackson has refused to speak to Rowe since he persuaded her to defend him in a television interview in February 2003 — the so-called "rebuttal video."
Rowe, who had appeared to be ambivalent about her children, has grown more and more determined to gain custody since then, sources say.
In a few days, her custody case against Jackson will wind up in front of a Los Angeles family-court judge, although Jackson himself is not expected to attend.
Yesterday, the family law team, led by Michael Abrams, tried to get an extension on the case, but was denied.
Jackson, in turn, is said to have served Rowe's attorney with a lawsuit which, if he wins, would prevent her from turning over any documents to the district attorney.
"He hasn't shown up for one hearing on the custody issue," my source said. "He has a team of lawyers fighting Debbie's one. But he serves them with huge amounts of papers all the time."
Jackson, according to my sources, seems unaware that Rowe, who could potentially be a damaging witness for the prosecution in the child-molestation case, is hell-bent on seeing the custody case through to the end.
Rowe is also determined to find out who leaked documents about her and the children to Britain's News of the World tabloid last spring.
The detailed information, which was also considered confidential, did not come from her, but Rowe and her attorneys may soon give voice to their suspicions about the possible culprits, sources tell me.
I'm told that at least three new and never-before-heard John Lennon songs will make their debut in the upcoming Broadway musical about the former Beatle.
Apparently, these songs were left behind on scratchy and unusable tape, so we will not hear Lennon singing them. Instead, a Broadway actor will have the honor of delivering them for the first time on stage.
And yes, these would be post-Beatles songs, folks.
The musical is very much not about Lennon's work with the group that made him famous.
Gossip and Gossips
I am honored to get star billing in today's "Page Six" in The New York Post. I just wish the story had a little more sizzle.
The nut of the story was socialite and recent divorcée Nicky Hilton, 20, insisting to me that she had gone to college. She was adamant about it.
This must have occurred in a parallel universe, since there is no mention in any biography of the young Hilton heiress that this happened.
Also from the parallel universe: Actress Cate Blanchett's publicist claiming she had to leave the "Aviator" premiere because "she's doing Regis and Kelly tomorrow."
I guess the flack meant "sometime in the future." Blanchett appeared this morning on the popular talk show, a full day and then some after the premiere. She must have been very rested.
Finally, I am remiss for not reporting on the grand party Show Circuit magazine editor and "Forbes FYI" writer Jill Brooke organized for hubby Gary Goldstein a couple of weeks ago up in the tony horse country of Westchester.
David Letterman show bandleader Paul Shaffer had headlined a show at the Apollo that night in New York City, with Ben E. King, Darlene Love and Steve Van Zandt.
But Shaffer wrapped it up and made a beeline to the Brooke-Goldstein manse, where he played and sang "Happy Birthday" on keyboards and jammed with jazz great Chuck Loeb. That's what they call a mensch!
Other guests included Court TV's Catherine Crier, actor Chazz Palminteri, former ambassador John Loeb Jr. and FOX News' very own Kevin Magee. A classic New York night, even if it was in the suburbs!
Ludwig van Beethoven was born today in 1770. He died 57 years later. We owe him everything and don't you forget it. Roll over, Beethoven, and tell Tchiakovsky the news.