Michael Jackson was the invisible presence in a Santa Monica courtroom on Wednesday as jury selection began in a $3.8 million lawsuit brought by his former adviser Marc Shaffel.

Perspective jurors were told by the judge and by Jackson's lawyer that he will not be present but they will see him on videotape giving deposition testimony.

Attorney Thomas Mendell said he'd love for the pop star to attend but he lives ten time zones away in Bahrain.

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The comments came during "mini-opening statements" which were allowed by Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Connor to give perspective jurors an overview of the case in which they may serve.

Mondell told perspective jurors that Shaffel was a producer of gay pornography, a fact not known by Jackson when he hired him and that he had no expertise in the record industry. Mondell said Shaffel also was supposed to produce a charity record for Jackson.

He said Jackson severed ties when Shaffel's past came to light.

There are disputes over whether Shaffel then profited from sales of the record in Japan and whether he was ever paid for his services.