Jackson Estate Sued Over Tribute

Michael Jackson’s estate has been sued by the father of a late producer and friend of the singer’s claiming the estate blocked him from making a MJ tribute film his son had a contract to produce.

Photo: Kevin Mazur, AEG/Getty Images, file/AP
Rehearsing at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Sharad Chandra Patel filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court Dec. 3 to enforce a creditor’s claim. His son Raju Patel was a film producer of some note and a Jackson friend, who died of cancer in 2005, three months after signing a contract with Jackson to produce a film, “Messages to Michael.”

They formed a company, Neverland Entertainment in 2002, including a provision that all proceeds from the company’s films would be split 50/50 between Raju Patel and Jackson. The contract for “Messages to Michael” included language saying Raju “or his nominee” could make the film with Jackson “or his nominee,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. The contract was allegedly assigned from Raju, before his death, to Sharad Patel. Sharad reportedly claims he has attempted to get access to Jackson’s music and personal effects to make the film since Jackson’s death in 2009, but has been blocked by executors John Branca and John McClain.

The suit alleges the contract entitles Patel to make the film with the cooperation of the Jackson estate, which instead partnered with Sony on the 2010 documentary “This Is It.” The Jackson estate reportedly collected “a 90 percent share of film profits,” far more than the 50 percent it would have received had it partnered with Patel. A creditor’s claim was filed against the estate in 2010.

Five years later, the estate denied the claim. Sharad Patel seeks “pre-existing materials, including music rights and home video footage, promised under the agreement now owned by Michael’s estate for use in the film,” the complaint says. Estate attorney Howard Weitzman said the claim is “Yet another meritless lawsuit filed against the Jackson Estate,” according to THR