The world of Michael Jackson is in the usual chaos this week, as the pop singer faces foreclosure on his Neverland Ranch for $23 million secured by Fortress Investments.
Several things have happened all at once. Out in the cold are publicist/manager Raymone Bain, who denies it to anyone who asks. But also apparently out, or iced for the moment, is nanny Grace Rwaramba.
"She’s sick, she’s got something, and Michael hates germs," says a source. "So Grace is out. She’s over at her luxury condo in Las Vegas while Michael and his kids remain at the Palms casino."
Jackson, flush with a little cash since his recent refinancing, is said to be shopping for a Vegas home. This might seem strange since his own home, Neverland, is about to be foreclosed on. But the word is that grocery store magnate Ron Burkle may have interceded with Fortress and gotten his old friend an extension. Calls to Burkle Monday were not returned.
Believe it or not, the other new name in the Jackson mix is none other than Dieter Wiesner. You may recall the former German manager was part of Jackson’s 2003-2005 child molestation/conspiracy trial/scandal. He was replaced by the Nation of Islam, then sued Jackson for millions.
Jackson recently paid him about $2 million after a short trial and many depositions. You’d think Jackson would be done with Wiesner, but I’m told the singer misses him and wants him back. (Ooh ooh baby, wants him back.)
With the much-despised Grace and Raymone gone, the question is: Who’s managing Jackson? No one seems to know, which means the singer’s possible appearance at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards is highly suspect. Recent reports that he would join Kanye West, Akon and will.i.am to perform remixes of "Thriller" on the Grammy show sounded good, but without a manager, Jackson is unlikely to show up or do anything productive.
And what about Neverland? Even with Burkle’s intervention, the big finale is drawing near if no one comes up with the money.
As for the big 25th anniversary edition of "Thriller" that’s coming Feb. 12 — and could certainly be promoted on the Grammys two nights earlier: Preorders on Amazon.com put it at a ho-hum No. 200. The available version of "Thriller," reissued in 2001, is holding tight around No. 691.
Are the Rolling Stones about to join Madonna as artists signed on for Live Nation?
That’s the new buzz in what remains of the dying music industry. The Stones recently waved goodbye to Virgin Records/EMI to put their "Shine a Light" soundtrack on Universal Music. "Shine a Light" is the Martin Scorsese concert film about the group due in April.
But the Universal deal is said to be a one-off solution while the Stones hunt bigger game. Sources say that seeing Madonna soak Live Nation for $120 million gave Mick, Keith and the boys dreams of grandeur.
In the past, the Stones recorded for London, Atlantic and briefly for Columbia. The bulk of their catalog is handled by ABKCO and Allen Klein.
Of course, a Stones deal would have to be a bigger bang than Madonna’s announcement. The Stones are the world’s most famous rock 'n' roll band, bigger than U2, The Police or the Backstreet Boys.
Seriously: The group is a guaranteed touring monster, but they are not and never have been big sellers on CD or that other thing, the LP. Signing with Live Nation makes sense, and the concert behemoth would make its money back almost instantly.
Meantime, the new animated cartoon on hitsdailydouble.com again contains a tossed-off reference to yours truly. (Yes, I do like basketball.) Anyway, there’s also a comment about Lyor Cohen buying off a Wall Street analyst. But everyone knows that can’t happen.
Warner Music stock closed at $6.96 Monday.