Michael Jackson is not having a good week in the legal system.
Thanks to a California Superior Court judge, the story will finally come out about ex-wife Debbie Rowe complaining about her children being taken to live in Bahrain.
The judge ruled Wednesday that all the papers from the Rowe-Jackson custody and divorce case be filed for the public to view.
Ironically, this may be in small part due to the ruling last week in the unsealing of papers filed in billionaire Ron Burkle's contentious divorce from his wife, Janet.
Burkle was Jackson’s financial adviser and friend during part of 2005, until he became fed up with the pop star’s nuttiness. Now their personal lives have unexpectedly collided.
I told you almost a year ago what Rowe’s chief complaint was in the removal of her children Prince and Paris to Bahrain: Jackson had faked passports for them because he couldn’t get her permission to take the kids abroad and no longer had the original documents.
The original passports had been filed with the court. Rowe tried to get the FBI and other government organizations involved to stop Jackson, but to no avail.
Rowe has had one visit with her kids since 2001 — late last summer, when Jackson’s nanny, Grace Rwarmba, brought them to Los Angeles.
Rowe was not allowed to tell the kids she was their mother, however. Jackson has told them they have no mother.
The unsealed papers — which may be available shortly — may also reveal the true parentage of Prince and Paris.
I also told you a year ago that even though Rowe is their biological mother, Jackson is not their biological father.
Toward the end of the child molestation case last year, Jackson attorney Robert Sanger suggested as much to Judge Rodney Melville when he argued that a Jackson TV interview should not be offered to the court because of its truthfulness on certain matters.
"The circumstances that relate to the birth of the children wouldn't be admitted for the truth of the matter,” Sanger said to a mostly drowsy, sparsely attended court on May 30, 2005. “Only his love of the children."
Meantime, Jackson has plenty of other legal problems. According to sources, he “giggled” and responded to few answers during a daylong deposition in London on Monday for the $4 million lawsuit filed by former partner Marc Schaffel.
Like another deposition taken in the case last fall, this one was videotaped and it will be played for the jury when the case commences next month in Los Angeles.
This should be interesting, too: Jackson will not return to Los Angeles for this trial, and his own lawyers didn’t bother questioning him for the video testimony.
I’m told he contradicts much of what he said the first time when he’s not laughing or acting strangely. That’s what this new jury will be shown.
This latest deposition was held in London at the former King of Pop’s expense, as well, which suggests that in letting this absurd case proceed to a trial, he probably can’t win. Jackson does not have the cash to settle it.
The new thing in Cannes, I guess, is to boo and hiss if you don’t like something. That’s what the French press did to Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette.”
Apparently, they didn’t like seeing a young American’s take on their precious, beheaded queen of queens.
But Wednesday night it was a different story when “Marie Antoinette” was unspooled for its premiere in front of several hundred formally attired big shots.
The crowd — including Cannes darlings Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar, Oscar-winner Faye Dunaway, jurors Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter and Samuel L. Jackson and Coppola’s dad Francis Ford Coppola — gave the off-beat, experimental and, I think, extremely groovy tale a five-minute standing ovation with lots of cheering.
Coppola, in fact, has made an unusual film that will be argued about a lot between now and the time it opens in October.
Some people think it’s boring, slow and superficial. I think those are the same people who want their costume dramas to be in the vein of a Merchant Ivory production.
And there are others who compared it Wednesday night to Stanley Kubrick’s famously lush “Barry Lyndon.”
To this reporter, “Marie Antoinette” had the feel of a Terrence Malick movie, a little spacey, removed from a linear motion, and almost goofy.
How else to explain music by the likes of New Order and Bow Wow Wow infiltrating the world of 18th century Versailles?
Coppola set out to make a rock 'n' roll take on Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI's rather sexless, self-absorbed life. She even hired Marianne Faithfull to play Marie’s mother.
Kirsten Dunst — who’s in every scene of the film as the Austrian archduchess sent to Paris to marry a stranger — is mesmerizing.
She told me Wednesday night after the screening that she was “scared to death” while the movie played; she herself had only seen it once before in an earlier version.
“I couldn’t tell if people liked it,” she said, “and I kept looking around.”
Of course, behind her sat Cruz, whose Cannes stock is as high as it could be right now. But by the time the credits rolled, Dunst was happy with the outcome.
So too was Coppola, whom I talked to for some time at the very elegant soiree Columbia Pictures and Pathe threw for her in a huge waterfront space behind the Palais (with perhaps the strangest food ever offered to a premiere crowd in the history of film — Chivas Regal, grilled veggies and chocolate-covered creampuffs).
I asked Coppola, who got great acclaim a couple of years ago with “Lost in Translation,” what was going on here.
“I wanted the movie to be like a great project,” she said.
She agreed with the Malick comparison.
“In fact, we called that whole part of the film with the animals our 'Malick chapter.'”
In the movie, Marie starts her own zoo at Versailles, almost like a Michael Jackson Neverland in its self-indulgent decadence.
But just the way that Jackson is no longer thought of amusingly by the public who indulged his many self-absorptions, Marie and Louis eventually fell so far out of popularity that they instigated the French Revolution and had their heads removed.
In the movie, they start out as curios. Even Marie, just arrived from Vienna, tells her chief lady in waiting that the royal pomp is “ridiculous” as she is dressed by 15 underlings.
Eventually, though, Marie is happily corrupted, becoming a compulsive shopper who is only interested in designer clothes. This is partially explained in the film as a response to her sexless marriage to Louis, played by Coppola’s actor cousin Jason Schwartzman, who has no interest in her and is whispered about in the palace.
She spends her money on frocks instead of royal charities, winning the enmity of the people and the film audience at the same time.
That may be the chief problem of Coppola’s film — that as it progresses and the performances get even better, the characters become so odiously vacuous and unaware of their plight that all sympathy for them is destroyed.
Alas, that is historically accurate and the reason why they were beheaded, friends. If they’d been benevolent and munificent and played by Judi Dench and Michael Gambon, the French would have eaten cake and liked it.
Meantime, “Marie Antoinette” looks amazing, with lush sets and costumes and cinematography that recalls French tableaux and Malick’s most beautiful outdoor shots (some of them even recall his recent, mostly unseen “The New World”).
Versailles and the various chateaux in which the court cavorts are shot like dreamy Valhallas, with parades of carriages and horsemen constantly coming and going.
After the screening, I ran into Sofia’s dad, Francis Ford Coppola, director of the greatest modern films (“The Godfather I and II”). He stayed out of the fray and away from the VIP area for most of the evening, having found a comfortable couch in a remote area of the massive party space.
Coppola is executive producer of the film, and of course one wonders if he didn’t have a directorial hand in the production. Did his daughter show him a pass-through, or an assembly of footage as she worked?
“No,” he said. “In fact, I didn’t see this version until tonight. She showed me an early version, that was all.”
Unobjectively, he thinks “Marie Antoinette” is brilliant. Coppola’s made enough films that critics hated upon first viewing, but later became classics. He knows how it works.
The endless grind of Cannes socializing continues unabated: Paul Allen, Microsoft’s co-founder and multibillionaire, played guitar on his gigantic yacht Tuesday night for the likes of Cuba Gooding Jr., Harvey Weinstein and a bevy of models who took the 45-minute boat ride from the marina out to his anchored island.
Wednesday night, Allen demanded and got an unprecedented six tickets to the "Marie Antoinette" premiere. It’s good to be king!
Also staying on his watering hole: Arianna Huffington and David Geffen….
Smashing dinner Wednesday night at the Eden Roc given by Amfar’s Vincent Roberti for his Palisades Pictures. Rosario Dawson and Jason Lewis, Julian Schnabel and son Vito, Denise Rich, Billy Zane with gorgeous British actress girlfriend Kelly Brook and guest of honor Kimora Lee Simmons all made the scene before heading off to Ivana Trump’s get-together at the VIP club in Cannes.
Thursday night, Wyclef Jean and Sharon Stone headline the annual Amfar gala at Moulins de Mougins…