You may have heard that Michael Jackson is being sued for $48 million. The issue concerns a private investment adviser he hired to help him raise money last year and early this year.
What you don't know is that Jackson's litigants have a pretty good case, based on the complaint they filed in the Southern District Court of New York.
That's federal court, folks. No more of that Santa Barbara County stuff. Michael's playing in the big leagues now.
What you also don't know is that Jackson, thanks to a series of bad decisions and unpaid bills, has no lawyer to represent him in New York anymore.
In Los Angeles, he's down to just Brian Oxman, who was fired from Jackson's criminal defense team by Tom Mesereau, and his friend, Brent Ayscough. They're not exactly the Dream Team.
So far, Oxman and Ayscough are having enough trouble defending Jackson in the $4 million civil suit brought by Marc Schaffel. They're not quite up to handling something that's 3,000 miles away and concerns 12 times as much money.
All of this means Michael's brother Randy Jackson is now in New York trying to sort out the variety of problems stemming from this latest and potentially catastrophic lawsuit.
Jackson not only has to shop for a law firm that will take this on, but he has to try and deal with the many parties involved.
What's happening now is that a group called Prescient Acquisitions, an investment-advisory firm that is said to be headquartered in New Jersey, is suing Michael for $48 million.
According to the sketchy information I've been able to cobble together: Last November, Randy hired Prescient to find someone who would help Michael buy out his $270 million worth of loans from Bank of America.
Prescient used another firm, called Transitional, and it located New York debt buyers Fortress Investments.
Here's the important part: Fortress said it would pony up over $500 million so Jackson could pay off the Bank of America loans and buy the half of Sony/ATV Music Publishing he doesn't already own.
Two problems came out of this.
One was that Prescient had gotten Michael, Randy or Randy's lawyer — a guy named Don Stabler who is identified in the lawsuit as the "authorized agent" of Michael Jackson Publishing Trust — to sign an agreement with Prescient.
The agreement said that if Prescient found someone to bail Michael out, the firm would get a whopping 9 percent commission on the total amount pledged.
Nine percent of $537 million is $48 million. That's what Prescient says it is now owed.
But wait: Fortress bailed out Michael from Bank of America for only $270 million. What happened to the other $267 million?
Well, it seems someone forgot to tell Prescient that Michael actually can't buy "the other half" of Sony/ATV Music Publishing just because he suddenly has the money.
The 1995 combining of Sony's publishing division and ATV was just that: a merger. Among other things, Sony has the right to say no to a buyout.
Someone gave Prescient bad information, which it may have passed on to Fortress. So Fortress wound up buying only Jackson's Bank of America loans.
What happens next? Does Michael even know what's going on? No one knows.
At this point, my sources say Prescient is not done filing legal actions against Jackson and may be ready to pull the trigger again.
Meanwhile, the clock ticks toward December of this year, when — as stipulated in their original agreement — Sony and Jackson will have to part ways in their joint venture.
Lisa Kudrow, re-introducing herself to Bebe Neuwirth at the premiere of Kudrow's Sundance hit "Happy Endings" last night. Long before she was on "Friends," Lisa did a guest spot on "Cheers."
Has a "War of the Worlds" box-office decline kicked in? On Monday, the hugely expensive film lost 61 percent of its business from the day before. It was the biggest Sunday-to-Monday drop among the top flicks, and possibly a bad omen. The film's domestic total is now at $168 million.
Nick Springer, the 19-year-old son of publicist Gary Springer and grandson of the late legendary PR man John Springer, has great news. He's been chosen to join Team USA playing wheelchair rugby in the World Wheelchair Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This is the same team that is the subject of the just-released (and quite remarkable) "Murderball."
Nick writes that it's a privilege to be chosen for the team, but expensive. Much-needed donations can be sent to:
The Nick Springer Sports Fund
P.O. Box 86
Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520
Yesterday's beautiful funeral service for publisher Byron Preiss was like a who's who of everyone in the book business. Quietly paying his respects: Mensch of mensches Billy Crystal. Jane Goodall sent a telegram from Africa, which was read by the rabbi. Byron, rest in peace.
Finally, condolences to famed photographer and author Jill Krementz, who lost her mother yesterday. Virginia Hyde Krementz was 87 and fondly remembered for a popular fashion showroom she ran out of the Wyndham Hotel in the '60s and '70s, as well as for a 1973 documentary she produced called "There Is An Addict in the House."