Witness: Jackson ‘angry, upset’ at associate’s past

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[b]Witness: Jackson ‘angry, upset’ at associate’s past in gay porn[/b] LINDA DEUTSCH Associated Press SANTA MONICA, Calif. – In November 2001, Michael Jackson was oblivious to the fact that the man he hired to produce a charity recording to benefit victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks had been a producer of gay pornographic movies, the singer’s former lawyer testified Monday. Zia Modabber said he broke the news to Jackson about F. Marc Schaffel’s background and met with the pop star in the middle of the night to show him a video of Schaffel directing a gay porn scene. “Can you describe Mr. Jackson’s reaction?” asked Thomas Mundell, who is defending Jackson against Schaffel’s claims that the pop star still owes him $1.6 million. “I think he didn’t want to believe it was real or true,” said Modabber. “He appeared angry, upset.” Modabber’s testimony was elicited as Jackson’s side sought to show that Schaffel enriched himself at the singer’s expense. Modabber was permitted to testify on limited subjects after invoking attorney-client privilege. He identified a blizzard of letters that moved between him and Schaffel’s lawyer after Schaffel was notified that he was being terminated by Jackson. “My focus was on doing what I could to get the rights to release the single,” Modabber said of the song, “What More Can I Give,” which was being held up because Schaffel claimed rights to it. “I got involved with trying to clean up that mess,” said Modabber. He told how his efforts led to a Japanese company that was negotiating with Schaffel, unbeknownst to Jackson, for the rights to the master recording of the song. Modabber’s letters continually warned that Schaffel “has no rights to exploit, distribute or in any way pledge any interest in the master recording of ‘What More Can I Give.'” But he said that Schaffel went ahead and at one point collected $900,000 from the company, Music Fighters. He said the company essentially received nothing. In a videotaped depostion shown earlier in the trial, Jackson unequivocally stated that he was the composer of the song and the rights belong to him. With Modabber still on the witness stand, Schaffel’s lawyer, Howard King, attempted to show that Jackson intended for Schaffel to have rights to the record. Modabber said he was aware that in 2003 Jackson began working on something with Schaffel again, and he protested, saying, “We should not be doing business with Mr. Schaffel.” Asked how Jackson’s people responded, the witness said, “I was told they were handling it.” Earlier, Jackson’s attorney questioned Schaffel about his rush to issue 18 backdated checks totaling $784,000 in the days after being fired by the pop star. Schaffel said he wrote the checks for items including prepayment of $54,000 in rent on his home, prepayment of utilities and phone bills, and reimbursement for expenses such as camera rentals after he received a termination letter on Nov. 15, 2001. Showing Schaffel one of the checks, Mundell said, “And you dated it Nov. 14 because you knew if you dated it after that you would run into problems because of the termination?” “Yes,” said Schaffel. Schaffel also said he “just didn’t want to get caught holding the bag for expenses Mr. Jackson had agreed to.” He said there was an agreement for Jackson to pay his expenses for six months after the date of termination. “I wasn’t sure with the jockeying that was going on with the advisers that part was going to happen,” Schaffel said. Schaffel also testified that, even after being informed he was being let go, he and Jackson remained friends and talked frequently about projects. But Mundell produced an e-mail written by Schaffel to the man who introduced him to Jackson, Dr. Arnie Klein, which seemed to contradict that assertion. The e-mail written on Jan. 30, 2002, said, “I am deeply saddened this has cost my friendship with Michael Jackson. … I was the only one willing to fight for him all the time. I miss being able to help him. I miss my friend. All our projects have come to a stop.” Source: http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/breaking_news/15008548.htm

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