JOHN BRANCA as a villain, AEG as an angel and KAREN FAYE as a business adviser in Michael Jackson’s affairs
Several articles were brought to my attention yesterday and took me off the other subjects concerning Michael. I immediately sat down to them and in the hurry of it posted a rather rough copy of the text (which has been amended by now, so hopefully this variant will be more comprehensible to you). The first subject of the post is a big 5-part series of articles written by Johnnie L. Roberts about John Branca’s role in Michael Jackson’s life.
1. THE ‘VILLAIN’
Frankly out of the whole series I read only the first and the last parts which were enough to confirm my worst suspicions – so now they are working not only against Michael Jackson but against the Executors of his Estate too.
The titles are telling it all.
“How Michael Jackson Nearly Lost His Prized Music Catalog” is about – no, not about AEG as we could expect it, but about John Branca instead; and the last one is “A Superlawyer Returns, a Pop Icon Dies — a Will Is Discovered” is about the fact that as soon as the lawyer returned, Michael Jackson immediately died and a certain will appeared, and all this is supposed to be in some connection with each other as the title more or less suggests it.
Okay, so the outline of the way we are going to be brainwashed is clear now and it is also clear who is the most interested party in washing our brains in these muddy waters – the one through whom Michael Jackson indeed nearly lost his catalog. Their name is the first thing that came to my mind, and if you see any other candidates who could be ordering the same kind of music for Branca and other Michael’s supporters please share your ideas with us.
The text in the first article is written in the best traditions of propaganda style which its seasoned victim like me recognizes when it appears on the horizon only. The key phrases are careful drops of doubt in Branca’s integrity, implications that he brought into the picture a mobster Alvin Malnik and all this is sprinkled over with terms of conspiracy, secrecy and intrigue. Here are some quotes:
- But did Branca …always have his client’s best interests at heart?
- But some might conclude that Branca is no hero at all.
- Branca had a previous encounter with the songs and the debt. From 2003 to 2004, virtually the identical financial crisis — almost $300 million of debt, with the songs at stake — was met with a momentous initiative led not by Branca but by a power cast that included Wall Street-savvy Goldman Sachs, veteran music entrepreneur Charles Koppelman and a Florida entrepreneur dogged by mob suspicions, Alvin Malnik. A cache of confidential documents from the seven-year-old episode reveals an intriguing inside look at the far-reaching effort, which long has been an object of media fascination and Internet-based conspiracy theorists.
- In the documents, Goldman’s master financial alchemists began proposing a venture to position Jackson as “the Bill Gates of the music industry… but only if he would sell his interest in Sony/ATV and in Mijac, the catalogue of Jackson’s own hits.
- A proposal in 2003 …would lead some to question Branca’s role in Jackson’s business affairs.
- Alas, the Goldman deal, more than a year in the making, got no further than the paper on which it was written.
- So why then had Branca worked so hard, as the secret files appear to indicate, for an outcome most feared by his client?
The replies of Branca’s lawyer (added to the same article) are in stark contrast to these dark hints and amaze you with their simplicity:
As regards Goldman’s possibility of obtaining rights for Michael’s catalog the answer is:
- While the Goldman proposal might have divested Michael Jackson of his interest in the Beatles and MIJAC catalogues in the long run, it would have created a larger entity that increased the value of his interests.
As regards the origin and the outcome of Goldman’s proposal the answer is:
- “Branca was asked to review a proposal brought to Michael by others and gave advice to Jackson. The decision not to enter into the agreement was Michael Jackson’s based primarily on this”. “Branca advised Jackson that he would be giving up too much control based on the proposal and Jackson vetoed the deal.”
And as regards the “secret files” the answer is:
- “There were no secret files, and ultimately the Goldman proposal was never accepted.”
Frankly, the long and elaborate attacks and simple answers to them reminded me of the so-called “love letters”, “child porn” and “voodoo blood baths” thrown at Michael Jackson during various periods of his life and of a simple answer to all that nonsense that none of it was true. Same innuendos, same simple answers – history repeats itself, doesn’t it? First it was Michael, now it is those who support his interests – everything is old under the sun…
To finish off with Branca the author hints that the deal collapsed because Branca was fired (which supposedly saved the situation). The article concludes with the following:
- As for Branca, by the time the deal collapsed, the superlawyer had been fired.
To prove his point the author gives a link to the letter firing Branca and to the The Secret Probe That Got Branca Fired from which we suddenly learn that there were no reasons to fire him at all, as all suspicions of him being involved in some dirty business behind Michael’s back turned out to be false. But this, as I understand, does not really matter as very few people bothered to open that document and really look. Everyone is so busy these days to look up anything at all and the pace of life is so quick that the first impression is everything you need, right?
But the biggest impression I get from the “Branca-nearly-lost-him-the-catalog” part is from the picture which is actually the centre piece of the article, though it has nothing to do with its content. It is a comparison of two Michael Jackson’s signatures and is clearly meant for someone like us, who also compared Michael’s signatures in the so-called AEG contract and came to the conclusion that one of them was forged.
In our posts the comparison was the key matter for the discussion, while over here a similar comparison is totally inexplicable as it has little to do with Branca and is really far-fetched from the main subject. No, it is here for a different purpose… Why this sudden twist in the narration and in whose interests is it placed here at all? Do you happen to know the guys who might be interested in a debate over Michael’s different signatures? If you do, please share your ideas with us too.
Let us look at the author’s find and his comments which say:
“At left, Jackson signs off on the firing of John Branca in Gebruary 2003; six months after Branca was out of the picture, Jackson authorizes trustees to borrow $35M from Bank of America. The scrawls are clearly different. Was it drugs, coincidence or hanky panky? No one in the Jackson camp would comment…”
So this is what the article is all about.
Branca is a sort of a side subject to it – though splashing some dirt at him has never been a bad idea as he is doing too good a job for Michael Jackson – but now we see that the main thing is the signatures of course!
The main idea is show to us that firstly, the difference in Michael’s handwriting here means that the same difference could be found in the AEG contract too.
And all the rest of it implies that Michael’s hand was unstable for various dirty reasons ranging from him being an “addict” to signing the papers in some “hanky-panky” circumstances like fiddling with someone in the back of the car, for example.
I also had to look up the urban dictionary to see what “hanky-panky” means and found that it is something dirty, dubious or illicit, all of which are of course, the exact words which the media wants Michael Jackson to be associated with – the fact which didn’t surprise us in the least as we never expected anything different from the media.
Urban dictionary explains that hanky-panky is: 1. dubious or suspicious behaviour 2. foolish behaviour or talk 3. illicit sexual relations. The last point is especially meaningful in the context of what the media always insinuated about Michael. So this is what explains all the difference in his handwriting!
But the above comparisons didn’t convince us that the signatures are that different after all – three out of these four look similar as they have round curves and circles inside them while the fourth one is decidedly different – it is too much pointed, has no circles inside and is too much slanted to the left, and surprise-surprise – it happens to be exactly the signature where Michael allegedly signed the AEG contract as head of his company!
But let’s get back to the article. To make it clear how the author really feels about Michael he drops from time to time little poisonous things like: “Jackson’s drug-fueled death” . This made me furious again – Michael died in the hands of a doctor and not because he was “taking” drugs! It is the same as saying that someone died of a knife and not a murder’s stab, and it is the knife which is to blame and not the murderer!
Another drop of poison is about propafol (sic) which this time shows both the author’s hidden sneer and open ignorance: “After the dressing-room meeting, Jackson headed off apparently to his intravenous Propafol drip” .
And if you click on the picture of Malnik and Jackson in the original article you’ll see its short description as “malnik at 70 and jacko” which makes it finally clear that the whole, seemingly neutral, series is made by a usual media hater. However, if everything is clear about its author whose idea it was to handle Branca so severly (in a 5-part investigation) and present all those “findings” about him in such an insinuating manner?
2. THE ‘ANGEL’
The last part of the series tells it all. Over here we finally see where the author’s heart really is. After the somewhat sinister role attributed to Branca’s emergence and reemergence in Michael Jackson’s life Randy Phillips is painted as an angel pictured on the background of sweet pink roses.
“Branca had begun to seek a return to the fold no sooner than Jackson wrapped up the press conference unveiling “This Is It” in early March 2009. The lawyer phoned Phillips. ‘“I’d do anything in the world to be involved,”’ Phillips remembers Branca saying. The AEG executive was noncommittal then.”
The matter of Branca’s coming is presented in a way that makes you think Randy Phillips was the happiest person to have John Branca on board. You know, the problem was that Michael had only Dr. Tohme beside him and poor Randy Phillips was extremely “concerned” that it would “potentially lessen the legal and financial predicament for AEG” (and this is probably why they included Tohme’s salary into a contract with AEG, though it was absolutely none of their business how much Michael paid to his own advisors). The article says:
By the time DiLeo returned, Jackson’s inner circle had shriveled practically to nothing — no lawyers or accountants, for example — with the July kickoff of “This Is It” just weeks away, DiLeo contended in an exclusive interview. Only Jackson’s then-manager, the “mysterious Dr. Tohme Tohme,” as the press sometimes described him, remained, DiLeo says. And soon Tohme Tohme’s status turned murky.
Phillips, too, was anxious to have Branca return to the fold. According to a well-placed music industry leader briefed on the matter, the lawyer’s re-emergence appeared to lessen a potentially massive legal and financial predicament for AEG Live and Phillips.
Okay, so AEG knew of the potential massive legal and financial predicaments (difficulties) as a result of their business with Michael Jackson? By the way all the calculations of the expenses borne by both parties were to be done by AEG only and Michael had only the right to check up. So whatever production costs Randy Phillips included into his bill for Jackson (who was to cover all production costs) Michael’s people would not be able to physically check up whether AEG indeed provided the best price for each service or stage prop, or derived extra profit from dishonest deals with their sub-contractors.
“Phillips was concerned that the company could be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars –productions costs, guarantees, ticket sales and more — if the fragile Jackson were unable to perform his 50-date London run, according to the music industry leader.”
And what was there for Randy Phillips to be so terribly concerned about the production expenses? They were to be covered by Michael Jackson anyway and In case Michael failed to fulfill his obligations AEG was to get all Michael had.
And isn’t it an interesting choice of words by the author – it is Jacko for Jackson, but a ““music industry leader” for AEG? It is Freudian vocabulary indeed, betraying which party the author is siding with and whose interests he is actually representing….
These good AEG people were “concerned” about the 50 dates… as if it was not them who imposed this number of dates on Jackson… after all they could have sold his tickets at twice as high price and people would still be buying while it would have spared Michael a bit. People would have understood – he was 50 after all… and they did pay almost three times as much for one concert by Barbara Streizand if I remember right what Leonard Rowe said, thus giving her triple the profit Michael was supposed to get.
At some point in the final part of the series the author suddenly tells us some truth about Randy Phillips’s real worries at last. He says that Randy Phillips is concerned that their contract could be found void! The real reason for his worries is not mentioned of course (a fake signature, a letter instead of a contract form, discrepancies between its different parts,etc.) – the cause for worry is presented as a conflict of interest which Randy Phillips evidently found by accident, because it is only now that he says he is worried because both parties shared the same lawyer!
Only wasn’t it a little too late for our old darling Randly Phillips to be concerned about it at the time when Branca joined the team? The contract was signed (according to AEG) 6 months prior to Branca’s employment and all Branca was supposed to do was executing it, while all conflict of interest had taken place half a year before that – when the contract was allegedly signed. And our angel CEO of AEG didn’t know that they were sharing one lawyer, poor thing…
By the way Randy Phillips’ revelation that they were sharing one lawyer is very interesting indeed.
Previously we thought that Katz was Dr. Tohme’s lawyer and was therefore representing Michael’s interests, but now we learn that he was working for AEG too – evidently through the same Tohme? Which simultaneously makes it clear for whom Tohme was working? And they are admitting it themselves?
Amazing things are revealed in that rosy fairy tale by Johnnie L.Roberts:
“I felt another attorney that had nothing to do with my company” was prudent, Phillips acknowledged in an exclusive interview. “I felt it was important for Michael.” He added: “That was one reason I was supportive” of Branca’s return.
And whatt does our AEG angel tell us about the role for which Branca was employed by Michael? He says that he was hired …no, not for looking into their contract of course. Instead of studying legal and financial affairs which Michael was very much concerned about (he said he didn’t know what was going on with is finances and where he was at all) Randy Phillips tells us that Branca’s primary responsibility was elsewhere:
“There was a serious aspiration to make a movie,” says Phillips. “Michael wanted to finish a movie called ‘Ghost’ … and a 3D version of ‘Thriller.’ He wanted John to do the film financing and DVD deal.” Phillips said AEG had planned to contribute cash for developing projects.
AEG was always ready to contribute cash for the developing projects – especially if they were backed up with everything Michael Jackson had – except for the cases when they were worried about “potentially massive legal and financial predicament for AEG Live and Phillips” of course.
Somewhat in passing Randy Phillips also tells us that Michael wanted Branca to handle Sony as they had the loan guarantees – which looks to me like a shot ritually made against Sony to make sure that everyone remembers who is the worst Michael Jackson’s enemy:
“With the due date on a $300 million debt to Barclays on the distant horizon, Jackson also wanted Branca in Sony’s face about “restructuring the loan because Sony had the loan guarantees,” Phillips said, adding that he was thrilled for Michael to have a corner man “who knew where all the bodies were buried.”
Well, we do remember that Branca successfully handled those loan guarantees with Sony later – however what we do need to refresh in our memory are the huge guarantees given by Michael to AEG for the advance money (including the production expenses) they gave to him under their infamous Promissory Note.
Since our well-informed author Johnnie L.Roberts does not say a single word about this matter, let me compensate a bit for his lapse in memory and remind you that under the Promissory Note signed with Michael Jackson’s LLC company AEG was to get everything this company ever possessed or was to possess in the future if Michael did not speedily pay back all the advances.
And it doesn’t matter whether Michael Jackson Company LLC did or did not hold any of Jackson’s music publishing catalogs at the time – as a result of a default in paying back the advance money AEG was becoming Michael Jackson full attorney-in-fact who could conduct all Michael Jackson’s business ever afterwards.
ALL of it. Including the CATALOGUE of course. And FOREVER AFTER too.
The legal reason for this possible situation was that if Michael Jackson had not paid the advance AEG would have obtained a sort of a General Power of Attorney and would have had full rights to act on his behalf in all his present and future transactions too.
There were NO RESTRICTIONS whatsoever.
Let me quote my earlier post here where I retyped part of the Promissory note and point 16.3 of their so-called contract which specified the future rights of AEG in case they became Michael Jackson’s full attorney-in-fact:
Point 16.3 refers to the Artist’s property as “Security” and makes a flat statement that in case of a default in paying back the advances the Promoter can exercise their rights to ALL properties, shares, interests, etc. listed above – whether they are owned now or will be owned in the future and will have the right to claim any other property in order to collect the Collateral and even make amendments to the Collateral (or change it).
To ensure that all future property will also be theirs the Promissory Note says that in an Event of Default AEG will be irrevocably (or without a possibility to reconsider it) appointed as the ONLY attorney-in-fact of the Artist’s company.
The attorney-in-fact will have full authority to act in the name of the company to do as follows:
(a) ask, demand, collect, sue for, recover, compound, receive and give acquittance and recepts for, money due and to become due in respect of the Collateral;
(b) receive, endorse and collect any drafts or other documents in connection with it;
(c) file claims or take any other action and proceedings necessary for collecting the Collateral;
(d) file financial statements or amendments relative to the Collateral.
In short if the Artist did not immediately pay back the advances, AEG was to receive full right to take any legal or other action necessary on behalf of the Artist’s company in connection with claiming the Collateral.
Including the proceedings concerning the catalog of course.
And this, I am afraid, refutes the point that “it is absolute misinformation” to say that “AEG would’ve taken ownership of Michael Jackson’s music catalogs if he failed to perform for 2009 ‘This Is It’ Tour in London which I saw in one of the blogs.
What I am afraid of is that it would be absolute misinformation to totally rule such a possibility out.
3. ‘HELP’ from unexpected quarters
Let us finally put aside the series of articles by Johnnie L.Roberts repaying AEG for all the good this company evidently did to this journalist and look in the direction of those who say that Ed Chernoff wanted to use Michael’s difficult financial situation as a way to exonerate Conrad Murray of his guilt.
Well, I clearly remember that Ed Chernoff did try to introduce the financial matter into the picture, only I do not understand how AEG’s horrible plans to strip Michael of all his money can exonerate Conrad Murray of his guilt, as it is in his hands and not AEG’s that Michael actually died.
Do AEG’s devilish plans make Murray’s negligence lesser? No, they do not. He will still remain guilty as hell.
But the only thing those financial matters can probably do is explain WHY Murray was so terribly negligent in dealing with his patient. Such negligence can be expected only if someone wants another one to fail and be unable to fulfill his obligations. And this is all the “damage” to Michael the revelation of the financial side of the matter can do.
In fact Ed Chernoff’s arguments found in this blog even struck me as true – he is a lawyer and has surely studied the AEG contract, so his opinion is valuable to us because it may be the additional proof that AEG was planning to rob Michael of his money, catalog and ultimately his life. The only thing it does NOT prove is that Murray may become less guilty as a result of discovering all those circumstances:
“The crux of the defense is going to be that Jackson did a desperate act and took desperate measures that caused his own death” declared lead defense attorney Ed Chernoff during April 6, 2011 court hearing. “Mr. Jackson’s greatest asset happens to be music catalogs. He was actually in more debt as a result of the concert. The Estate has information about what Jackson actually was facing if he didn’t complete these concerts” he continued, hinting that had Michael Jackson failed to perform in O2 Tour—assuming he was alive– then AEG would’ve foreclosed on his prized music catalogs.”
It is good that Chernoff said it. At least someone said the truth at last.
4. ‘BUSINESS ADVISOR’
And here is a brief note about my impression of Karen Faye’s passionate statements which were made at approximately the same time when Johnnie Roberts wrote his series – in December 2010 (sorry for me being so late with my studies). Here are some excerpts from Karen Faye’s message:
- …there is NOTHING to celebrate about this record. It’s a product of greed, manipulation, corruption and selfishness, and it’s basically just the continuation of the bullshit that was This Is It. Michael is DEAD, that is the ONLY reason this album exists. How can it be something to celebrate? HE is not here anymore so HE did not release this album. This is a Sony album, not a Michael Jackson one, and more than that, it’s a slap in the face and an insult both to everything he stood for, as well as to those of us that see this for what it really is.
- Michael’s legacy does not stand and fall with this album; nor will it stand and fall with any future Sony releases. His legacy was created (and secured) BY HIM, decades ago. DECADES. His songs are timeless, he’s Michael Jackson for God’s sake. His philanthropy, his human rights work, his donations…they’re all there, and they are set in stone. Any posthumous releases of any of “his” works (*cough*JasonMalachi*coughs*) will not change that. In any direction.
- This is not my intention, but to be honest, this isn’t even a matter of “maybe” to me. We don’t have to guess how he’s feel about Sony getting the hands on these recordings because HE TOLD US!
- He shared his talent with us for forty years. It is naïve, and, to be honest, disrespectful to everything he achieved and gave us during those four decades to think that all of it would just disappear because we don’t keep buying whatever is put out there and that has his name on it. HE did not release this album, so refraining from buying it will not hurt HIM. http://www.twitlonger.com/show/7j7ufk
No, I am afraid it will hurt Michael very much, as the money stream to pay the debts will be much narrower and much slower.
Karen’s feelings are understandable. Michael is dead and nothing matters to her now. All she wants is preserving Michael’s legacy in its original form, just the way he left it. This I understand perfectly well… but what about the debts?
If “This is It” documentary and “Michael” album projects were no good and fell so terribly short of her expectations, why doesn’t she suggest the Estate something better in order to be able to pay off those loans and the interest on them? And the ideas should not necessarily involve Sony if she still hates them so much, but other companies, which the Estate will surely be willing to consider.
Surely Karen does not want Michael’s children to take care of those debts when they grow up? I mean not only Michael’s children who will grow up, but the debts which will grow too? Does she want the children to live under that press and handle this huge problem in the future?
She doesn’t? Then suggestions please!