Here's the thing about making a deal with the Devil: Once you've done it, you can't complain. There's no going back.
Over the weekend, Michael Jackson carried on in a most undignified way. He called Sony Music COO Tommy Mottola "the Devil." He accused him of ripping off artists.
Shock! Dismay! Like no one's ever heard these things before.
If Mottola is really the Devil, Jackson should have known more than a decade ago what he was getting himself into. Jackson borrowed millions of dollars from Sony, took out loans and used Sony as a guarantor, and spent millions more on excessive, unnecessary behavior in the recording studio. Did he think these bills would never have to be repaid?
Mottola simply OK'd everything Jackson asked for. Maybe he did it so that the singer would be in debt to Sony. Maybe he did it so he might have hits from the self- proclaimed King of Pop. I'm the last person to defend Tommy Mottola, but Jackson's much-publicized antics on Saturday were ridiculous. Kissing Al Sharpton, a buffoon that no one takes seriously? Calling Tommy Mottola racist?
Michael, Tommy Mottola has taken advantage of plenty of artists over the years, and most of them have been white. (And as a matter of fact, you're white — but that's another story.)
Yes, it a travesty that Jackson has now walked away — or been pushed away — from Sony with nothing to show for his King of Pop-ness. He doesn't own his own master recordings, he has mounting interest on loans and he had to turn over four more songs for a greatest hits album. It's a very bad situation. However, it's one that the artist caused himself to have, not one Mottola created. He just took advantage of it.
On Saturday, Jackson took this bad deal and made it worse. Who's advising him, anyway? I am told that he's not returning the calls of his most recent advisors. That may be best, but Jackson is in such a dire crisis that he has one option left if he wants to survive as a recording artist. Michael, call your former manager, Frank Di Leo. Beg him to take you back. Listen to what he says.
For another thing, sell Neverland. Get rid of the chimps, the rides, the whole mess. Downsize. Move into a regular mansion, with a normal sized staff. Stop making appearances with children. Stop being photographed with children. Give your children back to their biological mother. Take off your mask. Give an honest interview (come see Bill O'Reilly on Fox News, we're waiting) about your plastic surgery, your skin tone, the child molestation charges. Make the public think you're human. Going around Harlem complaining that you're a put upon black man is not going to work.
The main thing DiLeo might do is sort out who has given Jackson the advice that's put him in the poor house. Mottola certainly didn't ask for the loans, authorize them, do the paper work. Someone in Jackson's camp — or maybe several people — have managed to pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees while Jackson himself has lost money. Maybe that's a place to start with the questions.
Di Leo might also suggest a time out from public appearances for Michael. A period of reflection is due. The public needs a chance to become nostalgic for his music. Re-teaming with Quincy Jones would be useful, as would a decision to be part of the mainstream record business. If Jackson starts a Harrods record label with Mohammed el-Fayed, I can guarantee that no one will ever take him seriously again. At this crucial crossroads, it's time for Michael Jackson to grow up and shut up.
A lot of people asked me last week if I'm a secret writer for the Enquirer or the Star. Of course not! However, you could understand how they arrived at this supposition. Both of the supermarket tabs have lifted material from this column. The Star liked our reporting on Rosie O'Donnell — and used it. The Enquirer really dug our story on the Nicole Brown Charitable Foundation. Neither felt it was important to credit fox411. Are we surprised? Not really. I'm just amazed those guys can read. I thought they were illiterate.