Witness claims intrigue over Jackson catalogue deal with Sony – AP

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Posted on Wed, Mar. 02, 2005 [b]Witness claims intrigue over Jackson catalogue deal with Sony[/b] By LINDA DEUTSCH AP Special Correspondent Michael Jackson’s infamous relationship with Sony Music became a subtext for testimony at his molestation trial Wednesday, with suggestions by a witness that associates were plotting behind his back to wrest away his co-ownership of a valuable song catalogue that includes the music of the Beatles. The unexpected testimony came from Ann Kite, who was hired briefly in 2003 to work on public relations damage control after the airing of a documentary in which Jackson said he let boys sleep in his bedroom. She suggested that some of the men charged as unindicted co-conspirators in the molestation case were actually enemies of Jackson’s interests who were planted in his inner circle to bring about his downfall. The issue of the catalogue came up during cross-examination of Kite by defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. Drawing on Kite’s previous statements to police he suggested there was a backstairs intrigue going on among Jackson’s “team.” “You told the police that you thought Michael Jackson was being slammed by the team?” asked Mesereau. “Yes,” she said. “And your opinion was this team was not out to help Michael Jackson?” asked the lawyer. “That was my opinion,” she said. Jackson’s stake in Sony/ATV, which includes catalogues for the Beatles and many Elvis Presley songs, was estimated by Forbes magazine several years ago to be worth at least $350 million. Jackson bought ATV in 1985 for about $47.5 million and sold it to Sony for about $95 million in 1995, but retained a half interest. Kite, who said she only lasted on the job for Jackson for six days and never met the pop superstar, said she tried in that short time to shift the attention of his associates to crisis management but to no avail. “Michael was going to get skewered on national TV and there was no plan of action to protect his interests from scurrilous allegations,” she said. Kite said she believed she had Jackson’s public relations interest at heart more than adviser Ronald Konitzer, his partner, Dieter Wiesner, and Stuart Backerman, who was then Jackson’s official spokesman. She also named unindicted co-conspirator Marc Schaffel as a key figure working against Jackson. “You said that Mr. Konitzer was hired to isolate Michael Jackson and let him create his downfall so that Sony could get the catalogue back, isn’t that correct?” asked Mesereau. “Not in those words,” said the witness. But she said she was aware of the importance of Jackson’s interest in Sony and understood that he owned the rights to many major songs including those by the Beatles. “I knew that Mr. Jackson had spoken out vigorously against record labels and still had a contract with Sony,” she said. Mesereau asked if she had told police that “Sony was waiting for the opportunity to get the Sony catalogue back.” “That’s correct,” she said. In 2002, Jackson launched a public feud with then-Sony Music chief Tommy Mottola. Jackson, following poor sales and alleged lack of promotion of the album “Invincible,” accused Mottola of being a racist, saying he was “mean, he’s a racist, and he’s very, very devilish.” Several black industry executives spoke in Mottola’s defense and Sony called his statements “ludicrous spiteful and hurtful.” Mottola resigned from the company in 2003 to start a new musical venture. A telephone message seeking comment on the witness’ claims was left at Sony Corp. in New York City after business hours Wednesday night. There was no immediate response. A call to Konitzer also was not immediately returned late Wednesday. Source: http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/northern_california/11035060.htm Source: http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2005/03/03/news/state/15_53_423_2_05.txt

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