Michael Jackson is back in the USA. In fact, he's back in New York City.
Jackson sneaked back here on Wednesday, according to my sources. The purpose was to give a deposition in the $48 million lawsuit filed against him by Prescient Partners, aka Darien Dash, cousin of hip-hop entrepreneur Damon Dash.
The Prescient case is a typical Jackson dilemma: the pop singer or someone representing him — possibly his brother Randy — signed an agreement that if Prescient could find him financing to buy out his Bank of America loans, Jackson would pay them a 9 percent fee.
Prescient claims it found over $500 million in financing from Fortress Investments. Now Dash wants his money.
Jackson has other pressing financial problems at the moment which brought him back to the United States from Bahrain. Fortress could foreclose on him at any time on $270 million in loans.
Sony Music, Jackson's partner in Sony/ATV Music Publishing, is trying to buy the loans from Fortress with help from Citigroup. The latter is asking for a small piece of Jackson’s holdings in order to do this. Fortress, my sources say, won’t give up, and wants a 20 percent piece of Jackson’s pie.
Then, of course, there are the problems in California, most notably the closing down of Neverland. Jackson still has fines to pay to the Department of Labor. And if he ever wants to have a staff there again, he has to get a workmen’s compensation policy.
And where is Jackson exactly? Sources say the Four Seasons Hotel is his likely crib of choice, although he's also used the Palace on Madison Avenue. Paparazzi, start your engines!
I told you last week about "Scary Movie" producer Vincent Bo Zenga and his connection to the Anthony Pellicano Hollywood scandal through Paramount chief and "Sopranos" producer Brad Grey.
Now Zenga has sued Grey, Pellicano and attorney Bert Fields, the man who represents Tom Cruise and other heavyweights.
It's a big lawsuit, too, and it concerns what I told you about that in that column: Pellicano's spying on Zenga, which was part of the private eye's federal indictment last month in Los Angeles. It also includes Zenga's problems with Grey and Fields courtesy of his being cut out of the “Scary Movie" profits and the subsequent lawsuit.
This, folks, is a good one.
Zenga has sued all the defendants for invasion of privacy; disclosure of confidential information; illegal wiretapping; gross negligence; and relief from judgment based on extrinsic fraud.
You may recall that Zenga lost his case against Grey in the "Scary Movie" matter. Now, thanks to the federal indictment, he can try and prove that he was spied on and that his case was tampered with.
Indeed, what's going to be explosive about this lawsuit is that it's the first one filed by all those people on the government's list of Pellicano "victims" — people who were either wiretapped with Pellicano's "TeleSleuth" invention or investigated illegally by use of police computers.
The difference between Zenga and the other "victims," however, is that he was involved in a lawsuit that was directly affected by Pellicano's actions.
In his new complaint, Zenga points out that had he known that during the depositions in the "Scary Movie" case he and his attorney, Gregory Dovel, were being spied on by Pellicano for Grey, they could have taken legal action against the man who is now chief operating officer of Paramount Pictures.
In the new complaint, Dovel also argues that had he and Zenga known what was going on, the entire outcome of their lawsuit against Grey might have been different. They’re asking the judge to throw out the decision in the "Scary Movie" case. It's the first request of this kind since Pellicano was indicted last month.
The specific implications for Grey are not good. For one thing, Zenga's complaint now includes more of Grey's potentially embarrassing deposition. It also includes excerpts from the wiretaps Pellicano made of Zenga and Dovel discussing the case and their strategies while it was going on.
Pellicano delivered these excerpts to attorney Bert Field's law office, and they were allegedly then shown to Grey.
Zenga and attorney Dovel then spell out what they feel is the exact link between Grey/Fields and Pellicano:
"Indeed, in defending lawsuits, Grey had already developed what he considered a winning 'team,' which included Greenberg Glusker partners Fields and Chuck Sheppard, and the unique services of Anthony Pellicano. Grey and Fields had also developed what they considered a winning 'strategy,' which involved digging up embarrassing information on opponents and witnesses, using the press to spread this information, and intimidating vulnerable opponents and witnesses."
In their court papers, they then offer several examples, including Grey's well-known legal conflicts with comedian Garry Shandling and a case that Fields handled for late "wild man" producer Don Simpson.
And there is a surprise: Zenga alleges in the new complaint that Brillstein-Grey Entertainment "is a fictitious business name used by Brad Grey." The complaint states that BGE "is a mere shell without capital, assets, stock, or stockholders" and that the company was "used by Brad Grey as a device to improperly avoid liability."
Zenga is quite bold in this complaint, especially when accusing Grey of malfeasance with his variously connected and titled corporate entities:
"Brad Grey used assets of each of these entities [BGE, et al] for his personal use, caused assets of each entity to be transferred to him and between them without adequate consideration, and intermingled assets of each to suit his own convenience."
Were Brad Grey now not the head of a major motion picture studio, this story might not be so potentially explosive. But Grey is no longer simply "producer of 'The Sopranos.'" Innocent or guilty, he is now about to embark on a long legal journey, some of it resting on the government’s case against Pellicano.
Because of this, some jigsaw pieces in the Dreamworks-Paramount-Universal executive puzzle may be fitting into place. Sources have insisted to me for some time that Universal's Stacy Snider left a successful career at Universal for Dreamworks/Paramount because she was promised something better there should Grey suddenly be encumbered legally.
But the situation and projections are even more complex. Here's a scenario as presented by several sources: that not Snider, but Dreamworks Animations' Jeffrey Katzenberg returns to run Paramount — the studio where he started more than 25 years ago — as Grey becomes more and more embroiled in the Pellicano scandal.
Right now, Katzenberg isn’t running Dreamworks since it was sold to Paramount. He's left with the animation company — which is fine, but not what satisfies a mogul like Katzenberg.
With this new Zenga lawsuit, the entire playing field changes — and much more litigation is sure to come.
A much-maligned movie producer is casting for an actor to play the mayor of New York City.
The publicly elected leader of my city, according to a breakdown for the independent film "Noise," has “rodent like features and an angry snarl.” The mayor, as described, seems like a thinly veiled version of our own two-term beloved billionaire Mike Bloomberg.
Oscar-winner Tim Robbins is set to play “The Rectifier," a New Yorker who goes crazy as he becomes the car alarm vigilante who pits himself against fictional Mayor Rhine Schneer.
Mayor Bloomberg — who has impeccable manners and a large vocabulary — won't be too happy about the way Mayor Schneer is depicted. He uses extremely coarse and foul language in private conversation, makes crazy threats against the crazy main character and refers to the Rectifier as the “Rectifairy.” I don't know why, but it seems like a part for Ron Liebman.
Henry Bean, whose major credit is “The Believer,” a lovely film in which Ryan Gosling played a Jewish kid who becomes a neo-Nazi, wrote this script, too.
Bean seems to be working in a similar unpleasant area here, too: “Schneer” appears to be the shortened version of “Schneerson” — the name of a late New York rabbi whose followers considered him to be the messiah.
The producer is Peter Hoffman, who narrowly escaped a stay in federal prison a few years ago when he pleaded guilty to a felony tax fraud and paid a fine — but only after also ante-ing up $225,000 in back taxes.
I don't know what year this is set in, but the prevalence of car alarms going off in the middle of the night ended about 10 years ago.
Anyway, fashion model Bridget Moynahan will play Robbins' wife, because all people who lose their minds over urban quality of life issues are married to very beautiful women.
This is an improvement on Joel Schumacher's similar 1993 movie of a decade ago called "Falling Down," in which Barbara Hershey — a real actress — played someone who simply knew crazy Michael Douglas but wasn't married to him.
Movies have come a long way, baby!