Don’t expect Michael Jackson in Los Angeles Superior Court next Monday for his court case with former associate F. Marc Schaffel.
I am told that last month, both on the record and on videotape, Jackson’s lawyer Thomas Mundell ripped up a subpoena handed to him by Schaffel’s attorney, Howard King, and refused to let his client be served at a London deposition.
Not only that, but Mundell announced at the deposition that Jackson simply would not be attending the trial at all. Schaffel is suing Jackson for $4 million, and Jackson is countersuing Schaffel, claiming he stole art from him and took fees he wasn’t owed.
But in two depositions — one given last September in London and the other just last month —Jackson is said to have conceded that he didn’t know about anything Schaffel had done to him and, moreover, wasn’t clear about whether Schaffel had been his business partner or his employee.
Jackson, in fact, could not recall who his actual representative were and couldn’t name them, according to sources knowledgeable about the questioning. He did admit, however, that he didn’t like the artwork of Romero Britto, the artist who was commissioned to do several pieces for him.
“It’s not my taste,” Jackson told lawyers under questioning.
He prefers, of course, portraits of "The Last Supper," in which he is featured with Disney characters.
Jackson v. Schaffel is due to start next Monday with or without Jackson. Mundell, who apparently only met Jackson the day before the May deposition, has little background of the long-running soap opera that has brought all concerned parties to this date. He has said he will win the case using forensic accountants and the trail of paperwork connecting Schaffel to Jackson.
But much of what Jackson has said in his videotaped depositions contradicts testimony from last year’s child molestation trial about his own finances. Sources say that Jackson’s responses to questions about his own finances indicate that he either willfully lied under oath in the depositions, or paid no attention at all to testimony he made in the earlier case. The latter is pretty hard to believe, since he was present for all of it.
The new case should prove to be interesting, because Jackson hopes to defend himself by painting Schaffel as a producer of gay pornography, who doesn’t deserve reimbursement because he’s a “bad man.”
But regardless of his vocation, Schaffel is known to keep meticulous records of his financial transactions. Indeed, his records were responsible for helping Jackson get acquitted last year of conspiracy when the government claimed he’d held a family against their will.
Schaffel’s bookkeeping will show dozens of e-mails, memos, cancelled checks and records of wire transfers he sent to Jackson. There will be many letters and contracts presented by Jackson which he signed. In the video depositions, Jackson will be shown these documents and asked to explain how his signature got on them—even as he feigns no knowledge of them.
Jackson, by the way, despite being represented by Mundell, claims to be residing in Bahrain. According to sources, Mundell said that Jackson is now “the wealthiest homeless person in the world.” But when Jackson was asked who his Bahraini attorney was, he replied “Ahmed. I can’t remember the last name. It’s something Arabic.”
Maybe you, too, were wondering why Harry Connick Jr.’s opening number for last night’s Tony Awards seemed so lethargic.
I was told later, after the three-hour enterprise ended, that Connick had ruptured a disc in his back, and was soldiering on with pain medication. He did look a little out of it in the audience and when I saw him backstage, but I give him credit for doing his job, and doing it well.
The same could not be said of the Tony producers, or the people at Radio City Music Hall, who turned the entry into the theater into one of the most miserably disorganized messes I have ever seen.
If the Oscars or the Emmys were handled this way, they’d never get on the air. And can someone please produce a Tony booklet that lists the awards in their order of presentation? I suppose they guise it so that people won’t leave. Yikes!
The first hour of the Tony show is thankfully not televised. This was a bizarre collection of nonsense pertaining to the show’s producers and internal Broadway matters that could have made cement drying seem interesting. With the sole exception of special Tony-winner Sarah Jones, the whole thing seemed to be designed to cure insomnia.
Then, for reasons unclear, there was a 15-minute break between the end of the pre-show and the start of the CBS broadcast. No one “warmed up” the audience, so many just left and roamed around. When the show did start, the audience — still enervated by the pre-show — hardly applauded. It was very strange. It was like the producers didn’t want the show to succeed or have a home audience.
Connick was a trouper with that opening number, but wouldn’t it have been smarter to kick off the show with the cast of “Jersey Boys” singing some Four Seasons hits?
And here’s another thing: Why was Frankie Valli, the man who made the Four Seasons, seated more than halfway back through the huge Radio City orchestra, close to lowly types like yours truly? I ran into him before the pre-show and he even looked perplexed. “Jersey Boys” is about him, yet no one even mentioned him on stage all night.
Eventually, the show picked up a little steam. Numbers from the nominated musicals went over great, and I loved the memorials to Wendy Wasserstein and August Wilson.
Credit Julia Roberts for even showing up, although she appeared brittle and uncertain. Backstage, she was like ice, taking a quick picture for some Tony promo and then vanishing.
By the time Oprah — looking svelte, I might add — made her appearance, the show was in need of her adrenaline and got it.
I did run into Paul Shaffer backstage, who was having fun with “Late Show” producer Barbara Gaines and chatting up the likes of James Earl Jones.
He asked me how I’d report his presence backstage, so here it is: At one point, everyone was asking who wrote the music and lyrics to “The Pajama Game,” a question that baffled Brian Stokes Mitchell and Frank Langella, who eventually came up with the answer (Richard Adler and Jerry Ross).
Stanley Tucci happened by and I told him that everyone who’s seen “The Devil Wears Prada” was talking about his performance — in a good way. He was happy to hear it.
Many celebs were happy to find a whole swag shopping mall set up for them backstage, helping themselves to all kinds of gifts. I helped myself to some brownies for the hungry people sitting in my row and went back to my seat.
Happily, the Tony party in Rockefeller Center was a lot more cohesive than the show itself. Spilling into all the side restaurants from what is usually the ice skating rink, the party had a nice convivial feel: in other words, no velvet ropes or private sections. “Jersey Boy” winner John Lloyd Young took pictures with everyone, and so did his mom. There were lots of non-nominated theatre types too, like Anna Deveare Smith, Lynn Redgrave, Hal Holbook and Dixie Carter.
Meanwhile, I overheard Neil Patrick Harris, aka Doogie Howser, complaining to a writer from “Entertainment Weekly” that he’d been omitted from their Emmy prognostications regarding his series “How I Met Your Mother.”
“I’ll tell our TV editor immediately,” she said to him emphatically.
I did run into Cynthia Nixon, who won the Best Actress Tony for her dramatic turn in “Rabbit Hole.” Nixon grew up in the theater, but was only nominated once before, for “Indiscretions.” Then she became internationally famous for playing Miranda on “Sex and the City." The Tony Award is quite a coup, and maybe the story of the night, after La Chanze’s win for Best Actress in a Play (a mother of two, she lost her husband on 9/'11).
At the Tonys party, Nixon and partner Christine Marinoni, who’s now organizing unions, tucked themselves into an out-of-the-way area for a quick bite to eat. Cynthia twirled the Tony award around a bit. She was pretty happy. Where will she keep it, I asked? “On a high shelf,” she said protectively.
She’s very glad that Miranda — much as she liked her — didn’t wind up being her last role ever. Her next role is starring in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” in the fall at the New Theater. Scott Ellis is directing, which could mean a Broadway run and another Tony nomination, but ... well, that’s for next year, after all…
Billy Preston may have been bankrupt when he died last week, but don’t start doing fundraisers for him just yet.
Preston is scheduled to be buried on June 20, two weeks after his untimely demise. Some are suggesting that the delay is so money can be raised to bury him. Nothing could be further from the truth, I am told. All of Preston’s funeral needs were paid for and planned a long time ago. In fact, his friends are wondering why his family is taking so long to respect his wishes.
Others are upset that a woman who once claimed to be Preston’s publicist would plant such a nasty, vitriolic story about him in Page Six yesterday.
“It’s bad karma,” says one.
For the record: Barbara Jacobs’ depiction of Preston as a druggie on the skids at the end of his life is wholly inaccurate.…
Another Billy, Billy Joel, dined on Saturday night at the famous eatery Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton with beautiful wife Katie. Billy was suntanned and glowing from his hugely successful tour that including a record-breaking run at Madison Square Garden. He heads to Europe soon for a repeat run.
Also at Nick & Toni’s: Alec Baldwin and girlfriend Nicole Seidel, former Mets great Keith Hernandez and football star Boomer Esiason. And PR maven Peggy Siegal treated her whole family to dinner to celebrate her niece Maddie’s high school graduation and admission to Skidmore College…