Michael Jackson is moving from Bahrain to “Europe,” as his press release and publicity advised yesterday.
But I am told that Jackson is likely going to settle in Paris if he can find the money to buy a suitable home. He’s already nixed moves to London and to Germany, two places where he at least has constituencies. Paris is the likely choice for Jackson.
“He wants to be in a place where people can meet with him easily,” says a source. “Bahrain was not that place.”
Jackson was recently photographed in Paris, being pushed through the Tuileries in a wheelchair, wearing pajamas and sunglasses, shaded by an umbrella.
Yesterday was a big day in Jacko World. He fired his Bahraini lawyers, Los Angeles accountant Alan Whitman, recently hired manager Guy Holmes and severed ties with the people who’ve generously paid his way for the last year.
He’s said to be in Ireland right now, and I am told that Jackson is likely meeting with Dublin rock promoter and manager Louie Walsh, who counts among his clients U2, Madonna and the Rolling Stones. If Jackson is planning to go to work, Walsh is probably the one manager in the world who would love the challenge of putting him back on top.
Of course, the one monkey wrench in this plan is a piece of paper clutched by Jackson’s former European promoter, Marcel Avram, who thinks he has the rights to Jackson’s next world tour.
The architects of Jackson’s latest management shuffle appear to be PR aide Raymone Bain and his children’s nanny, Grace Rwaramba.
About a week ago, this column received a phone call regarding the news that this pair had supplanted all of Jackson’s current advisers. Now it has been confirmed.
Bain, you may recall, was unceremoniously fired by Jackson last year on the eve of his acquittal on charges of child molestation and conspiracy. She was rehired later in the summer, and now she’s worked her way up to the top of the ladder in the Jacko hierarchy.
Rwaramba started out handling insurance claims at Jackson’s office in 1991, and is now the surrogate mother to his three children.
This column revealed last week for the first time that Rwaramba, who is said to have dated Jackson’s brothers Jermaine Jackson and Randy Jackson, has been married since 1995, although she does not live with her husband.
Bain, I am told, was instrumental in this coup. She is credited with bringing Londell McMillan — the man who manages and counts as clients Stevie Wonder, Prince and Chaka Khan — to be Jackson’s new attorney.
A rising star in the music biz and generally respected, McMillan is the first legit adviser Jackson has had in years. But McMillan also comes into Jackson’s life as his personal soap opera continues.
Today, for example, a jury is being selected in Santa Monica for a court case brought by Marc Schaffel, Jackson’s former partner, for $4 million. The Schaffel case is just the beginning. Jackson is being sued for $48 million by Darien Dash, cousin of hip-hop entrepreneur Damon Dash.
When I caught McMillan for a few minutes yesterday on the phone from Los Angeles, he said, “I think it would be a good practice for Michael to stop being a defendant all the time.”
McMillan, it should be noted, is credited for turning around the career of Prince after his whole Warner Bros.-slave episode including the changing of his name to a symbol.
For Jackson, there are also outstanding matters at Neverland, which, contrary to reports, is neither open nor functional.
After Jackson paid government fines totaling $100,000 and restitution to former employees of $49,000, the ranch was closed. Jackson has never secured the proper insurance to run it.
Since then, most of the animals have been removed from the zoo. A private security force watches for intruders, but otherwise Neverland is shut down.
There is also a $25 million lien against it held by Fortress Investments, created so Jackson could buy out his former attorney, John Branca, from a five percent interest in Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
Choosing McMillan was a sound idea, however, for many reasons. With his close ties to the record business, the New York-based attorney could secure Jackson a deal with his close friend, "LA" Reid of Island/Def Jam Records.
Reid has talked to Jackson in the last year about distributing his 2 Seas label in partnership with Prince Abdullah. The talks came to no result, however. McMillan also represents or has relationships with a number of contemporary artists with whom Jackson could collaborate including Kanye West and John Legend.
Is it a coincidence that Jackson’s change of mind, venue and staff comes exactly one year after arriving in the island emirate? Probably not. At this point, Prince Abdullah must be a little tired of writing checks and seeing nothing coming back.
Also cancelled in this latest house-sweeping is a deal Jackson and the prince made with Guy Holmes of Gut Records in London. Holmes had been selected to run 2 Seas, but at this point no one seems to know if the fledging record label will continue without Jackson’s involvement.
Yesterday’s announcement, meanwhile, says that Jackson will continue to have “ties” to Bahrain. But one insider says of the 2 Seas deal, “Michael’s ties are cut now.”
Jackson’s biggest relocation problem is that he feels, perhaps rightly, that he can’t return to the United States, California in particular, because he fears harassment or arrest on a variety of potential charges, including allegedly faking police brutality.
For the moment, he remains a man without a country, quite literally, and perhaps one without the cash for a new down payment.
Warner Bros.’ $300 million epic "Superman Returns" braved lukewarm reviews last night, and sold out most of its preview shows.
At AMC Lincoln Square in Manhattan, tickets for five screenings went fast, as well as one more in the IMAX theater.
At AMC Empire 42 in Times Square, two shows sold out, with a third at 85 percent capacity. On East 34th Street, it was a similar story. Said one exhausted ticket-taker at Lincoln Square, “It’s a hit.”
Warner execs should be happy, and maybe even put away the Ambien for now …
Things were not so good on the Upper East Side, however, where a 10 p.m. show at City Cinemas 1, 2, 3 only did 56 percent business and a midnight show was straining to sell 15 percent of its seats.
Yesterday’s short session in the KISS accountant-deadbeat dad case of Jesse Hilsen got pretty wild.
Hilsen was nearly remanded to prison for another month when he told Family Court Administrative Judge Nicholas Palos that he couldn’t testify about his dueling bankruptcies under order from a federal judge.
Palos briefly lost his temper, and then threatened Hilsen with further incarceration. That loosened the former shrink’s tongue in the search for his hidden assets.
Later, Hilsen’s illegal second wife, Dr. Joan Packles Margolis, took the stand, but her testimony was ruled confidential and this reporter was excused from his listening post (which is in a hallway, very glamorous).
Margolis — who looks like actress Marian Seldes — later refused to answer when I asked her if her husband, Dr. Richard Margolis, even knew of her involvement in this case.
Testimony continues today as Palos tries to find out where Hilsen has allegedly stashed his cash.…
A power table on Monday at Michael’s included birthday girl Jill Brooke, Court TV’s Catherine Crier, super literary agent Molly Friedrich, bestselling author Carol Higgins Clark and publicist Nancy Behrman. What a gang!
The beauteous Clark takes off this weekend on a Caribbean cruise with her mom (Mary Higgins Clark) to write their annual double bylined Christmas hit. Thanks to a witty New Jersey fan, they’re calling it “Santa Cruise.”