BY JAMES L. WALKER, JR., Attorney, Author, Adjunct Professor, Entrepreneur and Businessman
In less than 10 days, we will celebrate 2 months since the death of the King of Pop: Mr. Michael Jackson!
And, while the confusion continues, one thing is clear: It’s All About the Benjamins, i.e., the millions of dollars at stake!
For example, we don’t even know if Jackson is buried?
We don’t even know if a concert tour is coming featuring the brothers, Janet Jackson or some hybrid thereof?
We don’t even know what’s gonna happen to Neverland Valley Ranch?
We don’t even know if Debbie Rowe is the mother of the two older kids, or Claire Cruise, who called a press conference last week claiming she was the mother? And, we have no clear idea of who Blanket’s mother is?
And, of course, there is the omnipresent Joe Jackson: we have no clue if he’ll ever be quiet?
But, again, what we do know is: It’s All About the Benjamins!
Like your LA neighbor Rodney King once pleaded: Can’t we all Get Along?
The family, the Estate, the promoters, the managers and of course, the lawyers, are all duking it out over money.
And today, another lawyer appeared in court to represent the interest of the three children. Yet, another expense!
And, the saddest part is that there is enough money to go around for everyone if they could huddle up and agree on one thing: we all one to make money off this estate and maximize the revenue streams!
In my book on the entertainment industry, I have a chapter that focuses on how Muhammad Ali, who hasn’t fought in decades, sold the trademark and rights to his name for $50 million and retained some of the residual royalties in the future.
When James Brown died, it was estimated that the Godfather of Soul’s musical catalogue was worth nearly $100 million.
And, we all have heard that Elvis Presley’s estate turns $150 million to his heirs and family, who have cut several deals.
So to the MJ family and estate team: cut the deal and stop fighting.
MJ’s portfolio value and related interests will trump all those deals and values combined!
Come on gang, let’s play nice!
Resolve this dispute over the $60 million movie deal with Columbia pictures and Sony and move on to other deals.
I mean, we have all chastised and ridiculed Joe Jackson for his quick self-promotion just days after the funeral.
However, now, I think Joe Jackson is the only one that seems to get it: let’s stop bickering, cut deals, and everyone gets paid, even the attorneys on both sides who are leading the charge.
As an entertainment lawyer, when you advise groups or these types of large families with various entertainers (Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and the Jackson Brothers), each group has an entourage.
So, bring all handlers, managers, lawyers, agents and publicists for the various Jackson Family members into one room and show them that if we do some of the things below, we can generate $100 – $200 million annually.
We have all heard that the MJ debt is estimated at $400 million.
If everyone huddle up in one room and we can pay that debt in two years or less!
READ: lawyers get in a big expensive conference room, with those good sandwiches, plenty of juice and coffee and get this thing done already and withdraw all the legal actions!
It’s time to conduct a press conference with all of the brothers, sisters, parents and extended family members present, but one person serves as the spokesperson.
Sending Jermaine on Larry King every week is not wrapping up the legal fights.
Present a united family front, one that is mindful of the many millions of people worldwide who cared so deeply for Michael and who are also grieving.
To calm down the demand by millions to be a part of this memorial celebration and for those who could not crammed into the much too-small Staples Center, announce a week-long celebration kicking off on August 29th (MJ’s birthday) and ending Labor Day weekend thereafter.
Millions would be made and it would just put a much needed positive spin on this sad and epic Shakespeare-like tragedy.
Cut another deal for millions in the development of a European tour (and possible domestic tour) featuring a Jackson Five/Jackson Family Reunion Tour.
Include all of the Jackson siblings, and possibly invite Usher or Justin Timberlake, artists who are very successful and admittedly incredibly influenced by MJ to fill in for MJ.
If you haven’t done it already, get some more benjamins by partnering with Sony Records, Motown or whomever is Jackson’s current label and crank out albums like Tupac’s mama and Biggie’s estate to the tune of millions annually. (Tupac has more than 10 posthumous albums; and I believe Biggie has at least 5 albums since his death, making millions for their estates).
Get with the networks and announce a Jackson Family Special on BET to “Remember The Time”.
Also, as MTV initially refused to air Black videos, this is a wonderful time to meet with them and announce a partnership and TV special or shoot reality show.
I am a member of NARAS and I’m sure they would probably want to do something to commemorate the death of such a legend like Michael Jackson.
So Jackson Family go meet with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (GRAMMYS) and announce that Michael Jackson will be honored in 6 months at the 52nd Annual Grammys with the show being dedicated to him, as well as the creation of a special award named in his honor.
Lastly, get some clearance with the neighbors and the city or state, and work out a deal that Neverland Valley Ranch will become the Graceland of the West Coast as Elvis’ brilliant team did in Memphis.
Also, go back to Gary and create a museum and school, with the proceeds from these business ventures going to The Michael Jackson Foundation, various charities, and offset the expenses of the ranch.
Whether or not you follow all of these suggestions or none of them, regardless of what side of the table you sit on, just admit one thing to us: It’s All About the Benjamins!!!!
James L. Walker, Jr. is an attorney who is based in Stamford, CT. He is the owner of the law firm of Walker & Associates (www.walkerandassoc.com), recently named CT SBA Minority Business Champion of the Year. He is also the Author of the top selling “This Business Of Urban Music” and an adjunct professor of Entertainment Law at UCONN Law School. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.