08.13.09

The Jackson 8's Family Feud

Janet is worth $4 million, while La Toya merits just $500,000, according to a concert proposal obtained by Diane Dimond. How a new "Jackson 8" tour has exposed a contentious sibling rivalry.

You can never predict how a family will grieve the death of a loved one. But three people familiar with the inner workings of the Jackson family reveal that the Encino, California, compound for the parents and siblings of the late Michael Jackson, Hayvenhurst, has recently been filled with constant spats over money and fame.

The guaranteed collective payday for the clan: more than $12 million. This new grouping—call it the Jackson 8—will have Janet fronting in her big brother’s place.

The latest point of contention, these associates say, is a 10-city U.S. “Jackson Family Reunion Tour” involving all of Michael’s siblings. The Daily Beast has obtained a proposal from New Jersey-based AllGood Entertainment, a concert promoter that claimed it had a similar concert plan in place in June when it sued Michael for allegedly breaching that agreement, and my sources confirm that the Jackson family is seriously considering this new offer. The guaranteed collective payday for the clan: more than $12 million, including a $1 million advance upon acceptance. And it indicates that this new grouping—call it the Jackson 8—will have Janet fronting in her big brother’s place.

The biggest holdup with a concert tour, or other deals, are sibling rivalries, as each brother and sister weighs individual deals, while family matriarch Katherine Jackson preaches for a long-term family-size agreement which will provide security for everyone. The details of the proposed pay split among the family members illuminates both the opportunities for the surviving Jacksons following their famous brother’s death and their competing—and not equal—prospects.

The tour pay scale in the proposal is specifically broken out as follows:

Janet Jackson — $4 million
Jermaine Jackson — $1.5 million
Jackie Jackson — $1.5 million
Randy Jackson — $1.5 million
Marlon Jackson — $1.5 million
Tito Jackson — $1.5 million
La Toya Jackson — $500,000
Rebbie Jackson — $250,000

These numbers, for the 10-date U.S. tour, could easily triple. An August 11, 2009, letter written by AllGood CEO Patrick Allocco to Jermaine, also obtained by The Daily Beast, mentions the additional “option for 10 cities in Europe plus we have additional offers for Australia, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Seoul.”

But despite the large potential numbers, the siblings’ individual agendas have caused troubles inside Hayvenhurst, say the family associates. For Janet, the issue is pressure. She is unenthusiastic about being the headliner on this proposed tour, the sources say, remembering the constant stress the family put on Michael to perform with them for the sake of their bank accounts. For the oldest sister, Rebbie, who these sources tell me will shoulder the bulk of the responsibility raising Michael’s children Prince, Paris, and Blanket, the issue is respect. She is displeased that her value is calculated at a mere $25,000 for each of the 10 shows. She’s also annoyed that the promoter misspelled her name—AllGood lists it as “Rebe”—throughout the contract.

The other family members have their own issues. Ubiquitous requests for media interviews and frequent deal proposals that have caused a constant competition between family members for TV face time, print exposure, and quick money. Just hours after Michael died, his father Joe Jackson was on the red carpet at the BET Awards in Los Angeles hawking his new record label, oblivious to the way that looked to the rest of the world. Jermaine Jackson has now appeared multiple times on Larry King Live—and along with King’s wife, Shawn, is organizing a highly troubled “Happy Birthday Michael” concert in Vienna slated for August 29. La Toya sold her opinion that her brother had been murdered to the U.K. tabloid News of the World and is reportedly seriously negotiating to appear on the next season of Dancing With the Stars. On July 25, one month after Michael passed away, Tito Jackson appeared in Montego Bay at the annual Reggae Sumfest and gave an exclusive interview to Entertainment Tonight.

Given the Jackson family’s longtime motivations—marketing and money—squabbles at this juncture shouldn’t shock. The father and siblings seem to realize that this new exposure, born from tragedy, has the potential to resuscitate each of their musical careers and restore their ability to pull in the big bucks in the future. But the family associates say they’re surprised by the frequency and intensity of the intra-family arguments.

Then, there’s looming specter of Michael. One huge problem sits in the small subparagraph (e) of the proposal: “Artists agree to assist Company in obtaining any licenses and clearances that may be necessary in order for Company to fully exploit the Ancillary rights.”

Translated, that means AllGood Entertainment wants to be able to use the name and likeness of Michael Jackson in their promotion of the family tour. The lead administrator of Michael’s estate, attorney John Branca, will likely never agree, as it would dilute the superstar’s estate value. The insiders believe it’s this kind of concern that prompted Katherine Jackson to ask the court for a seat at the executors’ table. Once there she could have tried to influence future decisions like this. The court rejected her request.

Throughout my years covering the Jackson saga, I’ve long marveled how the family consistently makes false promises and bad business decisions. Their internal machinations have contributed mightily to their past failures and there’s no indication they’ve learned from those mistakes. For decades, Michael Jackson was there to help them pick up the financial shards of their shattered lives. Now, that responsibility is falling to baby sister Janet—a mantle she’s understandably reticent to embrace.

Investigative journalist and syndicated columnist Diane Dimond has covered the Michael Jackson story since 1993 when she first broke the news that the King of Pop was under investigation for child molestation. She is author of the book, Be Careful Who You Love—Inside the Michael Jackson Case. She lives in New York with her husband, broadcast journalist Michael Schoen.