Michael Jackson tried to adopt two babies in Brazil in 2002 and 2003. At first he wanted two boys, then a boy and a girl. “He couldn’t make up his mind,” says a source. “He was also looking at 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds.”
A taped phone message not yet played in court is said to reveal Jackson telling an associate: “Get me two boys, no, get me a girl and a boy.” Says one source, “It sounds like someone asking you to run down to the store and get ice cream.”
Jackson used former associate Marc Schaffel — who’s now suing him in Santa Monica for $3.8 million — to set up the transactions. Contrary to Jackson’s story that he cut off relations with Schaffel when Jackson was told he was a producer/director of gay pornography, the associate never stopped working for him at all. He just changed his job description.
The $300,000 secret payment that I told you about last week was going to be used for this adoption. When that didn’t work out, the money (already in Brazil) was subsequently used to buy the continued silence of a family Jackson had quietly paid off years earlier when they claimed he’d had inappropriate relations with their son.
After Jackson was arrested for child molestation in November 2003, the family in question split for South America to escape being interviewed by Santa Barbara police detectives, then called and asked for additional funds.
What’s happening here is that Jackson’s lawyers, in their zeal to destroy Schaffel’s reputation, are exposing more of Jackson’s secrets.
In fact, it may yet come out in court that Jackson knew from the time he met Schaffel about his career in gay porno, my sources say.
I am told that Jackson was well aware of it long before his lawyers showed him tape of Schaffel directing an adult video.
It was also revealed in court last year, during his child molestation trial, that Jackson had in his possession a great deal of gay pornography, which he claimed fans sent to him.
The Brazilian adoption scheme came to fruition in 2002, sources say, when Schaffel hired a Miami immigration lawyer for Jackson. The female attorney, who knew she was working for Jackson, was Brazilian and had roots in the adoption community there.
It’s not clear whether Jackson’s current attorneys even know this happened. But Schaffel, having been temporarily sidelined as a music producer by Jackson in 2002, was sent on this mission instead.
The search for a willing orphanage and the right children went on through most of 2002, until Jackson, Schaffel, manager Dieter Wiesner and Jackson’s children — including the then-recently adopted “Blanket” — went to Germany for Jackson to accept a Bambi award.
It was there that Jackson infamously dangled Blanket out of a hotel window. Schaffel was in the room next door, debunking the theory that he and Jackson had parted ways months earlier.
Schaffel and Jackson’s plans for the adoption were derailed in early 2003, when Martin Bashir’s documentary aired on television, and the Arvizo family infamously came to stay at Neverland.
Schaffel then produced two rebuttal films for Jackson in February 2003, as well as handled the Arvizos' comings and goings.
When the family was finally jettisoned by all concerned in March, Schaffel revived the search. But it ended in November 2003 when Jackson was arrested on charges of child molestation and conspiracy. He was acquitted in June 2005.
There’s more to this story, and it only gets worse. The reason all this is coming out, of course, is because the Schaffel v. Jackson trial continues without a settlement. The reason for this can be only one of two things: Jackson is either getting the worst advice ever from lawyers, who are also billing him at top dollar, or he simply doesn’t have the cash on hand to settle the case.
My guess is it’s both, and before this trial is over, Michael Jackson’s reputation will be even more thoroughly damaged than it was last year.
Despite the fact that hip-hop producer Dallas Austin got arrested on his way to her birthday party, supermodel Naomi Campbell never did a thing to help get him out of a Dubai prison.
In the end, Austin was pardoned by the sheik of Dubai, whose son is dating Naomi. But neither the prince nor the model were involved in the pardon, and neither of them even visited Austin in jail during his monthlong incarceration.
And not only that: the birthday party went on without a hitch.
Austin spent six weeks altogether in a minimum security detention center while awaiting trial. His visitors were his lawyers, including three from the American firm of Greenberg Traurig. Two were from Washington, D.C., and one — Joel Katz — came from Atlanta.
Katz also hired lawyers from Dubai and neighboring Bahrain, where the Atlanta record-biz attorney counts among his clients Prince Abdullah, the man who’s been sponsoring Michael Jackson for the last year.
Katz did not return phone calls over the last few days, but sources tell me he attended a celebration dinner for Austin on Saturday night in Atlanta at the posh Pano's and Paul's after bringing him home.
Austin was arrested on May 19 for quite stupidly attempting to enter Dubai with cocaine and other illegal drugs on his person. Katz and his posse immediately went into overdrive to make sure he didn’t get transferred to a national prison, and therefore out of their reach.
Indeed, Austin now literally owes his life to these attorneys, as well as to a phalanx of celebrities who worked behind the scenes for him.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones were among the names involved.
But I can tell you that there were others, including songwriter-cum-pardon expert Denise Rich, who has known Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for years, since her marriage to international scoundrel Marc Rich.
Austin’s visitors were few, however, his personal assistant, a woman named Sharliss Asbury, stayed in Dubai and visited him every day.
But there was no sign of Campbell, and certainly no help from the model either. This was considered odd by Austin’s attorneys, considering that Campbell is said to have a close relationship with one of the country’s princes. There have even been engagement rumors.
I wrote in this column back on June 23 that Austin would face a “Midnight Express”-like situation if he wasn’t somehow exonerated or pardoned by Dubai authorities. The Times reported on Sen. Hatch’s role in getting Austin freed. Hatch, a sometime songwriter, turned out to be a key player in this “rescue” of Austin.
But what the Times didn’t tell you is that Hatch’s response was most welcome in light of something else that happened. When Austin’s defenders sent their pleas for help to a very major liberal Democrat, they were turned down flat. The person in question simply refused to get involved, most surprisingly. Apparently, the association with drugs was too much for them.
Austin’s plight was grave. He was convicted last Saturday, July 2, to four years in prison and a subsequent deportation. Sources say that once Austin was arrested, Katz and his team deduced that his only way out would be a royal pardon. They set out to secure one instantly, but couldn’t nail it down until the July 4 sentencing.
“The problem was everyone thought the pardon had been secured early on,” a source told me. “But it hadn’t been.”
It took a village, literally, of Hatch, Jones, Richie, Rich, the three attorneys and intervention of the Bahraini royals to solve the problem and extricate Austin from this mess.
If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it's that Naomi Campbell is not coming to your rescue, especially if you get arrested on the way to one of her parties.
Now that the World Cup is over, it’s kind of fun to go back and read Chuck Blazer’s daily reports and observations about what happened during the tourney. Blazer is on the FIFA Executive Committee and essentially runs the show in North America.
In his Saturday entry, he wrote about being torn between France and Italy because of their wines and which ones he preferred. He cites Chateau Figeac, a St. Emilion from the Bordeaux region of France; and the Tuscan wine Masseto Ornellaia. I guess he’s drinking the latter right now.…
Jessica Domain headlines tomorrow night at The Knitting Factory in the Tap Room, where pop stars are born and discovered faster than you can say “indie cred".…
There’s a new baby in town, and he’s named for a famous New Yorker. Moe Benjamin Greengrass was born June 21 to Gary and Sharon Greengrass, who run Gary’s grandfather’s 98-year-old famous house of smoked fish and other delicacies, Barney Greengrass, on the Upper West Side. (This is where I tend to run into Harvey Keitel and Wes Anderson, among others. The nova salmon is sublime.)
Little Moe came in at 6 pounds, 12 ounces, or “$324 in sturgeon,” Gary jokes. He should be working the counter by next Sunday. Mazel tov!