Someone had better tell Michael Jackson that his lawyers are starting up again ... even if he doesn’t know it!
Sources tell me that Thomas Mundell, who represented Jackson in a lawsuit he more or less lost to former partner Marc Schaffel, thinks there’s more life to this story.
Mundell is said to be on the verge of filing a motion for a new trial in the case that earned Schaffel $900,000 from Jackson for unreimbursed expenses.
Jackson, they say, has no idea this is going on and should be furious when he hears it. A new trial means new depositions, which also means more revelations about the singer’s life. When he was deposed the last time, this column reported rather thoroughly about Jackson’s internal chaos. The huge volumes read like a Russian novel.
Mundell writes in an e-mail: "The appeal in the Schaffel case has been pending for quite some time. We believe that based on the evidence and certain findings made by the jury and the referee, the overall net judgment should have been in favor of Mr. Jackson.
"By way of a brief example, Judge John Ouderkirk, who heard several days’ worth of testimony in the case, made an express finding that Marc Schaffel was not only responsible for fabricating documentary evidence, but that Schaffel lied under oath about it when he was caught.
"Bet you haven’t heard anything about that aspect of the case until now," the e-mail continues. "Mr. Schaffel’s appellate brief is due on December 22, 2008, and we are looking forward to seeing what his attorneys have to say."
Howard King, lawyer for Schaffel, takes a dim view of Mundell’s arguments. He responded: "Mundell made this argument at trial before the jury, after trial before the presiding judge Jacqueline Conner, in post trial proceedings in front of the court-appointed referee, retired Judge Ouderkirk, and again in front of the presiding judge.
"Each and every time the response has been that Michael Jackson owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Marc Schaffel, and whatever peccadilloes each of them may have been accused of, they did not detract from the conclusion that money was owed," King continued. "Michael Jackson paid the judgment in full earlier this year. In the unlikely event an appellate court orders a new trial, we believe Marc will likely obtain a higher verdict against MJ than the 900k awarded by the last jury."
Otherwise Jackson remains low key in his new home in Las Vegas. There is absolutely no sign that he’s working on anything, a new album or tour. And it may be that the time has passed to re-start any career, or that anyone is particularly interested.
I told you the other day that Benny Medina wouldn’t go long without work. He just announced that he’s folding his Handprint Entertainment, and everyone wants to work with him!
Sources say that Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony have asked Benny to come run their company exclusively, and devote himself to managing their recording, movie and branding careers.
But Medina has another offer apparently, from DefJam’s L.A. Reid. Medina has been asked by Reid to come over and run all the movie tie-in marketing for the DefJam artists.
It’s nice to be popular!
Another source says neither deal is done, but that the result could be a compromise where Medina does both jobs.
Why didn’t he just stick with Handprint? I’m told it was a legal move to disconnect himself from a less famous, annoying partner — sort of like Prince changing his name to a symbol to ditch the old Warner Music.
Warner Music Group’s stock dropped to an all time low Thursday, $3.75, before finishing the day at $3.82.
Back on Aug. 11, the stock price was $8.45. That’s when CEO Lyor Cohen cashed out almost $7 million and bought himself a house in the Hamptons.
A year ago the stock price was $11.60.
On the upside, WMG sold its stake Thursday in Irving Azoff’s Front Line Management to Ticketmaster for $120 million. So now it’s completely out of the business that chief Edgar Bronfman supposedly wanted to get into. Last year he lost $30 million on Bulldog Entertainment, a luxury concert promoter.
And all this time WMG has developed few acts and had almost no hits under its Warner label. They’ve gotten by with Kid Rock and Metallica, who were with the previous company’s owners. And only their Atlantic division continues to operate as a record company.
Bronfman and Cohen have pretty much fired everyone they can and gotten rid of most of the acts. They sold Front Line. They still have interests in Frank Sinatra’s catalog and P Diddy’s moribund Bad Boy Entertainment. There may not be much more to do other than sell the office furniture. Tag sale, anyone?
Yes, the Waverly Inn was buzzing last night because Mariah Carey and Jon Bon Jovi were at back to back booths. Mariah came in with new hubby Nick Cannon, hot R&B star NeYo, L.A. Reid, his wife Erica, and DefJam PR great Laura Swanson.
Bon Jovi and wife, Dorothea, were guests of Ronald Perelman, girlfriend Anna Chapman, and actress Gina Gershon. None of this got in the way of famed writer Salman Rushdie holding court one table away with two beautiful girls.
The Reid table had just come down from Bergdorf Goodman, where the record mogul launched a cosmetics line called "Le Metier de Beaute." Among the revelers: hot Brit singing star Duffy, as well as Mariah. …
Beyonce is changing her name for her new album. She’s dubbed herself "Sasha Fierce." None of this alters the story I told you last week about how she and her dad, Mathew Knowles, appropriated her new single, "If I Were a Boy" from a 21-year-old fledgling singer in San Diego named BC Jean.
Or maybe it was Sasha Fierce who took the song and recorded it before getting permission from the actual writer. …
Meanwhile over at the Plaza Hotel ballroom, Hunter College had its inaugural honors dinner for alumni stars Joel Katz, the famed record biz attorney, and Abbe Raven of the A&E channel.
Newsman Bill Kurtis intoned a lovely intro for Raven, and Rev. Al Sharpton — newly even more slimmed down — toasted Katz, invoking the late James Brown, who was Katz’s client and Sharpton’s mentor.
Among Katz’s guests former BMG Music big Charles Goldstuck, who’s working on a huge "secret" project that will launch this winter, as well as BMI music licensing top dog Charlie Feldman, and music publisher David Schulhof. …
"Dreamgirls" is going on a national tour, returning to the stage after the hit movie (still the best film of 2006, I think).
But first there’s going to be an open casting call for the main players on Nov. 1 at the Apollo Theater. Sign in is from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
I’m just getting the Advil out thinking of all those girls singing "And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going." That should be quite a day in Apollo history!