Michael Jackson Burns Final Bridge in Music Business

Michael Jackson | Chris Albrecht | Odds 'n' Ends

Jacko Burns Final Bridge in Music Biz

Bruce Swedien, the man who recorded all of Michael Jackson’s adult hits including "Thriller," "Bad," "Dangerous" and "Off the Wall," is out.

Swedien, a lovely, soft-spoken man, said Jackson has cheated him out of about $500,000 in royalties from the 2001 "Invincible" album. Swedien said he’s tried over and over again to reach Jackson and get his money, but there’s been no answer.

Ironically, Swedien said intermediaries for the former pop star recently reached out to him to see if he’d come work with Jackson on a new album.

“I will never [work] with Michael Jackson again,” Swedien told me the other day. “I still love him and we made beautiful music. But never again.”

Swedien also tried contacting Jackson to ask if he’d write a forward to a book the producer has just completed about their collaborations.

“There’s nothing about Michael’s personal life in it," he said. "It’s all about how we made the records. But I never heard back from him.”

Instead, Rod Temperton, who wrote many of Jackson’s hits, has written the introduction. “It’s beautiful,” Swedien said.

Swedien also tells me that Jackson has recently had contact with his other former producer, Quincy Jones. “But Quincy has no interest in working with Michael, and he and I work together. It’s not going to happen.”

For the record, Swedien — who recently moved to Florida from Connecticut and set up a new state-of-the-art studio — said he never saw anything untoward concerning Jackson and young boys.

“If it was there, we didn’t know about it,” he said.

Swedien did confirm, however, that Jackson routinely had strange rules in the studio, including prohibiting underlings from looking at him or speaking to him.

Personal Tragedy at HBO

When bad things happen to good people, it’s not unacceptable in the corporate world.

That said, Thursday is probably the last day Chris Albrecht will work for HBO after a stellar 22-year career. He’s leaving his post as head of the company after a Las Vegas arrest for allegedly abusing his girlfriend in public last weekend.

Consequent to the arrest, both the Los Angeles Times and L.A. Weekly turned up other similar incidents of harassment or abuse on Albrecht’s part. The feeling is that HBO wanted him gone before a Time Warner shareholders meeting on May 18.

Whatever Albrecht’s personal behavior has been, his professional duties have always been fulfilled with great panache and success.

This story is not funny; it’s a tragedy. Albrecht is the guy who shepherded all those HBO hits like "Sex and the City," "Six Feet Under" and "The Sopranos." On the series side, he put the cable network on the map. He really will be sorely missed.

So now what? The odds are that Colin Callender, the beloved head of HBO Films, will move up to the top spot. And deservedly so — Callender’s films have raked in Emmys, great reviews and superior ratings. He has unerring taste, and HBO has reaped the rewards of his good judgment.

Callender is also not a player, in the Albrecht sense. He’s happily married to Elizabeth, a popular and beautiful helpmate. He has three kids and a solid foundation.

But how weird, that life and careers can change in an instant.

Odds 'n' Ends

“Silly” or not, “Spider-Man 3” has picked up another $25 million Monday through Wednesday and is on track to hit $200 million this weekend.

But George Lucas needn’t fret. He still has Numbers 2, 5 and 8 in the all-time box-office champs list ...

I’m just catching up now with a terrific documentary that was screened during the Tribeca Film Festival by Picturehouse Films.

Seth Gordon’s “The King of Kong” follows the adventures of a bunch of slacker geeks who excel at one thing: playing the video game Donkey Kong. And they are serious about it.

Like any good doc about obsessive-compulsive types living in a bubble, “King of Kong” is really about those people who look normal but have created their own reality. The movie is insane and compelling.

The internal competitions, rivalries and cliques are really a hoot, as are the complex scientific analyses of Donkey Kong. Alas, as a former Pac-Man fanatic, I get it …

Beaver on Broadway: The Times says Jerry Mathers is joining “Hairspray” on June 5 as Tracy’s dad. And you thought he died in Vietnam.

What’s next? Eddie Haskell as Billy Flynn in ‘Chicago’? Tony Dow as the narrator in “The Drowsy Chaperone”? The mind reels ...

Joan Jedell, the enterprising publisher of Hamptons Sheet, was honored on Tuesday along with Gayle King (put her on "The View" next year, Barbara!) and PR vet Maureen Lippe by United Cerebral Palsy with a lunch at Cipriani for their charitable work.

Martha Stewart, of all people, sent Joan a video tribute that was played at the luncheon. Ivana Trump, who was supposed to give the toast, left early to make a flight to the Bahamas …

Revlon’s Ronald Perelman dined with actress Gina Gershon last night at the Waverly Inn. Ann Dexter-Jones (mother of DJ/ producer Mark Ronson, among others) looked cool with designer Victor Alfaro a few tables away …

Aretha Franklin has already been named recipient of the 2008 MusiCares Person of the Year award by the Grammy Foundation. The dinner is on Feb. 8 next year — it’s the earliest an honoree has ever been announced.

And Aretha is so deserving of it …

Stevie Wonder, the 8th wonder of the world, celebrates his 57th birthday on Sunday.

But tonight in the Bahamas, I am told, Stevie will getting a big surprise at the Atlantis Hotel and Casino.

Happy Birthday, Stevie! You are the sunshine of our lives!