By Frank James
Some developments on the Michael Jackson front today. The Los Angeles County Coroner's office said it has completed its investigation into how the late pop star died but that it won't be releasing its final report at the request of police who are continuing their criminal investigation.
The Los Angeles Police have asked for and received a clamp on information from coroner's office essentially since soon after Jackson's death in June.
According to numerous news reports and observable police activity, the LAPD and other law-enforcement agencies have been investigating the physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, who was at Jackson's rented house and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation there on the singer before paramedics arrived.
Murray is being investigated, again according to news reports, as the doctor who administered a strong anesthetic sedative known as Diprivan or, generically, propofol, to Jackson. The sedative is usually given in a hospital setting under the supervision of an anesthesiologist or anesthetic nurse.
Meanwhile, a Los Angeles County judge overseeing Jackson's estate approved several business deals, including a $60 million one that would let Columbia Pictures make a movie from the video shot of Jackson's rehearsals for what was to have been his last series of engagements.
An Associated Press story excerpt:
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff said he okayed a $60 million deal allowing Columbia Pictures to make a movie using video of Jackson rehearsing for his "This Is It" concerts in London, which would have begun in July.
Similarly, Judge Beckloff said he had approved the re-issuance of the singer's autobiography, "Moonwalk," currently planned for October.
Lawyers spent much of Monday morning wrangling over merchandising deals still being planned and a traveling exhibition of Jackson memorabilia that concert promoter AEG Live, which had backed the London concerts, wants to mount.
Judge Beckloff wondered if he should delay proceedings and appoint lawyers for Jackson's three minor children, who along with Katherine Jackson are the estate's key beneficiaries.
But an attorney for AEG Live, which spent as much as $30 million preparing for the comeback concerts, argued the company needed to move quickly to take advantage of the resurgence in the singer's popularity to help recoup its investment.
Several of the "Thriller" singer's albums, for instance, have returned to the top of the music charts in recent weeks, whereas before his death his CD sales had languished.
"The longer we wait, the more time passes. Frankly the less interest there will be on the part of the public to come see the exhibit," said Kathy Jorrie, an attorney for AEG Live.
The "Thriller" singer was said to be as much as $500 million in debt when he died, but the value of his estate was reported to be as high as $1 billion given his part ownership in a music catalog and his control of his own songs.
Separately, Jorrie told the judge that Katherine Jackson's attorneys have demanded AEG Live give the estate its rehearsal video, something that AEG is not willing to do.
And there's more. A promoter announced a memorial concert in Vienna, Austria for early September. It's scheduled to take place at Schoenbrunn Palace, a castle.
Another AP snippet:
Organizers said they'll announce the date soon, but the venue is set: the sculpted and sprawling grounds of Vienna's former imperial Schoenbrunn Palace, where an outdoor stage shaped like a crown will be built.
Jackson's brother Jermaine said recently that Vienna was a special place for Michael, who "loved castles."
Of course, a roundup of Jackson news wouldn't be complete without a mention of the continuing weirdness surrounding paternity issues and Jackson's children. There was a tabloid report that a friend of Jackson's, Mark Lester, had donated sperm that fertilized the egg that went on to become Paris Jackson, the entertainer's daughter.
But a People magazine story quoted sources who denied that Lester has ever claimed paternity of the child whose raw, emotional farewell transfixed millions who watched the Staples Center Memorial to the late entertainer.