Michael Jackson likes to be a loner, but starting today, he will have some family support in court.
I'm told that starting either today or tomorrow, we will see all the Jacksons at the Santa Maria courthouse. That will include the pop singer's successful sister Janet, as well as LaToya and all the brothers: Tito, Randy, Jackie, Jermaine and Marlon.
The only question mark is said to be eldest sister Rebbie Jackson, who lives in the Las Vegas area.
For the last several weeks, Michael's single most steadfast family member has been mother Katherine. There have been recent appearances by brother Randy, as well.
Father Joseph Jackson has shown up sporadically. Joe Jackson spent the weekend in Las Vegas, according to family insiders.
"Michael wanted to be alone," one source said.
His kids and nannies, however, were in attendance at Neverland.
Janet Jackson, considered the "sane" one in the group — I liken her to Marilyn from "The Munsters" — has stayed away from the child molestation trial since its early days.
Insiders say that her advisers cautioned her against becoming too involved in the trial's residual bad publicity following her own PR fiasco after the 2004 Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction." That show pretty much destroyed the sales of her subsequent album "Damita Jo."
Since then, Janet has been hard at work on a new CD.
How much of an impact the whole family will have on Jackson's jury remains to be seen. But with closing arguments beginning Thursday and the jury possibly beginning deliberations late Friday or first thing Monday, every little bit helps.
Among Michael Jackson's possessions is a nearly $500,000 paperweight. I will explain.
Readers of this column are well aware of the chronicling of Jackson's finances here. Hundreds of millions have come and gone over the years and Jackson has little to show of value.
During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss was very keen on announcing that somewhere along the way, $965,000 disappeared from Jackson's accounts. He said that unnamed, un-indicted co-conspirators Dieter Wiesner and Ronald Konitzer, Jackson's former managers, had written checks to themselves in that amount from Jackson's accounts.
Auchincloss liked to delight in the fact — which he arrived at on his own and which was incorrect — that Jackson was so broke in February to March of 2003 that he required the accuser and the rest of the Arvizo family to participate in a TV special for which he would be paid millions.
Otherwise, Auchincloss insisted, Jackson's career would have been destroyed. Hence the laughable charge that Jackson conspired to hold the Arvizos hostage until they did his bidding.
But Auchincloss was wrong. The Arvizos never made it into the video they were "held" for, but the show aired, Jackson was paid millions and life went on anyway.
Now it seems that we know where a chunk of that missing $965,000 went: to Jackson. I have in my hands a bill from Mercedes of Hamburg for a limo that Jackson ordered on March 7, 2003. The price? 327,439 euros, or roughly $400,000, give or take.
Apparently, Jackson saw a similar Mercedes limo in Miami and asked Wiesner to get it for him right away. This was no easy task. But on April 25, 2003, Lufthansa put the limo on one of its jets and shipped it over. The cost? A mere 12,735 euros, or $14,000.
The limo came equipped with all sorts of electronics, including DVD players, tri-band phones and TV sets. According to one Web site, the Pullman S500L has a V8 engine, extended long wheelbase, fiber-optic cabling and four-zone climate control. It also makes toast.
You would think Jackson would be styling around town and going back and forth to court in this showboat, wouldn't you? But as it happens, my sources say proper papers have never been filed and the limo still isn't registered and insured. It sits at Neverland like a $500,000 paperweight or the most expensive golf cart in history.
You know the line, "Revenge is a dish best served cold." Last week, Steve Popovich got his revenge. And the dish was Meat Loaf.
Popovich's Cleveland International Records was the original home to rock singer Meat Loaf and his late '70s classic album "Bat Out of Hell." Popovich licensed the album to Epic Records and it sold 30 million copies worldwide.
But over the years, as Epic was bought by Sony, the label dropped Popovich's logo from re-pressings of the CD. At one point Sony agreed again to put the Cleveland logo on the Meat Loaf album, but didn't follow through.
On Friday, a federal court in Cleveland ruled that Sony now owes Popovich $5 million for not complying with previous agreements. You might think Sony would have learned a lesson from a 1998 lawsuit with Cleveland International. In that one, they were ordered to pay $6.8 million in back royalties.
And so it goes with Sony/Columbia/Epic and other record companies. New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is already looking into other unusual business practices at record labels. He has subpoenaed Sony's Donnie Lenner and other executives to explain why royalties aren't paid and other mysteries that have plagued people in the business for years.
One thing Spitzer might look into is the long running federal lawsuit against AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds — a separate entity from the mothership American Federation of Television and Radio Artists — over lack of funds for recording artists.
The funds were supposed to come from reported royalties from record companies over the last 40 or so years. It's a Pandora's box, but one well worth opening.