Jackson Film Greenlit; Merchandise Gets A Yellow - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Jackson Film Greenlit; Merchandise Gets A Yellow

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - A judge greenlit a major Michael Jackson movie deal Monday, and the film is scheduled to be in theaters later this year. The accompanying Michael Jackson merchandise will have to wait - for now.

The film, crafted from hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes and rehearsal footage shot in Los Angeles weeks before Jackson was to kick off his 50 "This is It" concerts in London, will also feature interviews with Jackson's friends and collaborators. Portions of the movie will be shown in 3-D.

"People who have seen this footage are astounded by the amazing quality of Michael Jackson's performance," said Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. "This historic recording of the last time he sang and danced on stage shows the legendary artist in an incredibly powerful way, with crystal clear images and sound."

Fans will have to wait a bit longer before official Jackson merchandise hits store shelves or a museum exhibit of the singer's memorabilia is displayed.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff delayed approving a pair of lucrative contracts after attorneys for Jackson's mother, Katherine, raised a series of objections. Attorneys spent hours trying to work out a deal, but Beckloff ultimately delayed a ruling and appointed an independent attorney to represent Jackson's three children in estate matters.

It is unclear how much the deals are worth, but attorneys for the companies advocating them said the delay could cost Jackson's heirs a substantial amount of money. Katherine Jackson and her grandchildren are set to receive a combined 80 percent of the pop superstar's estate.

The estate will grow richer with a deal Beckloff approved between Jackson's estate, concert promoter AEG Live and Columbia Pictures, which is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Under the terms of the proposed contract, the film, slated to arrive in theaters on Oct. 30, will have to be screened for Jackson's estate and cannot include any footage that puts the superstar in a bad light.

Burt Levitch, an attorney for Katherine Jackson, expressed concerns that the film will feature Jacksons' three children, but an attorney for AEG Live denied the youngsters were included in the footage.

Columbia Pictures paid $60 million for rights to the film, and the contract states Jackson's estate is slated to receive 90 percent of its profits.

Jackson died on June 25, days before he was set to embark to England for his comeback shows.

Beckloff had until Monday to approve the film and allowed Jackson's mother, Katherine, to review the contracts and raise any objections. Katherine Jackson did not object to the film, but her attorneys have raised questions about other agreements concerning AEG Live and merchandiser Bravado. The estate wants to enter into agreements with the two companies for a museum show of Jackson memorabilia and merchandising.

The memorabilia show would be on display in three cities which have not yet been announced.

A proposed agreement calls for Bravado to receive worldwide rights to Jackson merchandise, including items such as trading cards, apparel and cell phone themes.

Levitch, an attorney for Katherine Jackson, said he has raised several issues with the proposed agreements. He said the he was "not sure (AEG) would have been the first choice" to put on the museum tour.

Katherine Jackson's attorneys have frequently cited possible investigations into AEG's conduct and conflict of interests during court hearings.

Attorneys for the promoter and the current administrators of Jackson's estate say they are unaware of any investigation by police or government regulators. Kathy Jorrie, an attorney for AEG, said the company would comply with any investigative inquiries.

Katherine Jackson's attorneys argued Monday that the singer's estate should own the footage and have control over who uses it after the movie deal is complete.

"Under no circumstances would AEG agree to such a thing," Jorrie said.

As part of agreements pending before the judge, AEG would have rights to use the footage indefinitely.

Howard Weitzman, an attorney representing the estate's current administrators, said some of Katherine Jackson's suggestions are "not acceptable." He said the contracts were aggressively negotiated and there was little room to strike a better deal.

"We feel that we're being second-guessed," Weitzman said. "I'm not sure why."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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