Whither Jacko?

Michael Jackson has survived one trial, winning a stunning acquittal on all counts in a marathon child molestation and conspiracy case, but that may just be the first of many, legal and otherwise, for the embattled ex-King of Pop.

While pundits and cable talking heads debate whether Jacko has any hope of reviving a career that was well-faded even before the bust at Neverland in November 2003, creditors and process servers may be preparing to line up at his doorstep.

With the prospect of a lengthy stay in California’s penal system out of the way, MJ’s next item of business could very well be to figure out how he’s going to make good on a $240 million loan from Bank of America, backed by the Sony / ATV Music catalog, by its December due date. Lest anyone need reminding, the catalog includes The Beatles’ songbook.

There’s an estimated $10 million in legal bills from this trial alone, and the Los Angeles Times reported MJ’s been sued at least four times in the last year for allegedly failing to pay $3.3 million in other overdue bills.

Then there’s German concert promoter Marcel Avram, who told Pollstar he intends to take Jacko back to court to enforce the $7 million settlement he won when the singer backed out of a series of millennium concerts in 1999.

Avram could have a say about Jackson’s ability to mount a personal fund-raising tour as well, since he is in possession of a one-page document granting him exclusive world tour rights.

However, one option that could sideswipe that agreement could be an extended Las Vegas deal, à la Celine Dion and Elton John.

Reports from Sin City have casino mega-developer Steve Wynn and Donald Trump both making offers to build theatres for Jacko’s exclusive use. While a minority owner of Trump’s New Frontier Hotel and Casino confirmed talks with Jackson, Wynn quickly shot down a rumor that a deal had already been struck, according to the Times.

MJ’s best bet may be in Europe or Asia, some say. Observers point out, with some justification, that Jackson still has a sizable fan base in those places — though it’s anyone’s guess how much of that is left after almost two years of constant reporting of sleepovers with pre-teen boys, Jesus Juice and porn.

What shows up in the crystal ball is going to depend on whether Jackson can reinvent himself against very stacked odds and, if even then, he can still make music that people care about enough to buy, or to see live.

Island Def Jam CEO Antonio “L.A.” Reid has indicated that he’d be interested in talking over a record deal, and artist/producer Missy Elliott has stepped up to offer her services as well.

He’s also got the endorsement of famed record producer Rick Rubin.

“I think he can always have a career making music. People will always be interested in what he does,” Rubin said. “Regardless of any other things going on in their lives, people are always interested by the great acts, and there’s no question he’s one of the greats.”