Michael Jackson | 'King Kong' | 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent'

Sony May Step In to Help Jacko

As of tomorrow, Michael Jackson may have an unlikely ally in the fight for his financial life.

I am told that Sony Music, his partner in the $1 billion Sony/ATV Music Publishing Company, is offering to step in and help Jackson with his $270 million worth of loans.

The loans — $200 million of which are secured by Jackson's 50 percent share in Sony/ATV — were bought in April by Fortress Investments from Bank of America. Jackson is in default and could be foreclosed on as early as tomorrow.

But sources inside Sony say the company has been in talks with Fortress for some time about clearing up Jackson's financial woes and bringing him current at least on monthly payments.

"This would be in our best interests," said a Sony insider, who points out that if Fortress forecloses on Jackson, Sony would be farther away from owning his half of the company than they are now.

Sony insiders also stress that Fortress would be unable simply to foreclose and put Jackson's assets on auction to any buyer. According to the covenants of the Sony agreement with Jackson, whomever has the assets cannot sell them without first offering them to Sony.

The big question remains: How much does Jackson understand of all this and who exactly is advising him?

My Sony sources say that Jackson is now totally represented by Sheik Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa, prince of Bahrain, and his associates.

According to stateside sources, Jackson has not been in touch with most of his family or with his trusted aide, Evvy Tavasci, in months. Recent visitors to the Bahrainian palace are said to have spoken with the prince but didn't see or speak to Jackson.

Even more interesting is that Jackson's brother Jermaine, who got the ball rolling for his brother in Bahrain, is back in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future, perhaps wondering where he and his own family will live if Jackson is forced to sell his parents' home in Encino.

That leaves Michael alone except for his children and their nanny, Grace Rwamba.

Jackson and the prince are still saying to friends that they hope to finance a record company that will be distributed in the U.S., and they also plan on releasing that much-discussed charity single sometime soon.

Hurricane Katrina, if you recall, did its damage nearly four months ago. But Dec. 26 is the first anniversary of last year's deadly tsunami in Indonesia. Maybe Jackson can tie it to that instead.

'King Kong' Far Off Track

Peter Jackson's "King Kong" had a very weak opening weekend at the box office. The $300 million, three-hour thriller is estimated to have taken in $50.15 million from Friday to Sunday, with $16 million more from Wednesday and Thursday.

If those numbers hold, then "King Kong" is almost $22 million behind its forecast, according to box office number crunchers. By now, boxofficemojo.com predicted 'Kong' would have $87 million in the till. The total is more like $66 million.

Universal, which estimated the weekend numbers, is hopeful business picked up after a dreary Friday night. If the numbers don't hold and turn out to be less, watch for major finger-pointing at the studio.

Of course, Universal has a lot about to happen, not the least of which is Steven Spielberg's "Munich," to be released on Friday. So far Spielberg isn't talking, and there's been no sign of the cast doing any promotion. But they must have a plan; I guess we'll see it revealed this week.

That leaves the Oscar race still wide open. Even with "Munich" as a probable nominee and "Brokeback Mountain" still hanging in there, the choices for best picture continue to confound industry insiders. Both "Capote" and "Good Night, and Good Luck" look strong, and "Memoirs of a Geisha" is still thought to have a chance. But more and more I see "Walk the Line" gaining in popularity.

Hollywood also likes a profitable film. "Walk the Line" cost about $45 million to make and market. In the U.S. alone it's made $82 million so far. Foreign release in the U.K., Australia, France, Germany and Japan should push it into the stratosphere.

Karaoke With 'Criminal Intent'

Yes, that was "Law & Order" star Chris Noth, formerly known to us as Mr. Big on "Sex and the City," singing on stage Saturday night with a live karaoke band. He did credible versions of Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" and "Foxy Lady" at The Cutting Room, which he co-owns with Steve Walter. The occasion was a wrap party/holiday celebration for the just wrapped episode of "Law and Order: Criminal Intent."

Co-stars Dann Florek and Annabella Sciorra were there. Sciorra came with boyfriend actor Bobby Cannavale in tow.

The Cutting Room was filled with "Criminal Intent" cast and crew, many of whom got on stage and impressively performed hits by The Cars, AC/DC, The Box Tops, The Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi.

Some, like the guy who did "The Letter," were almost too good. Kudos to the young man in the red jacket who punched out The Cars' "Just What I Needed."

Leslie Hendrix — no relation to Jimi; she plays the medical examiner — turns out to be a punk hellion. The corpses would be sitting up straight and applauding if they had seen her. One of the directors, whose name I didn't catch, forcefully delivered Elvis Costello's "What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding?"

No sign of sometime "Criminal Intent" star Vincent D'Onofrio, however. Some at the party confided to me that "Criminal Intent' is kind of a crazy place at this point, with the erratic D'Onofrio and Kathyn Erbe alternating episodes with the reliable and talented Noth and Sciorra.

Despite lots of backstage gossip, it did seem at least this half of the "Criminal Intent" crew is a pretty happy gang from the scene at the party.

You know, it can't be all be Peaches & Herb, I mean, peaches and cream.