August 10, 2009 / 8:09 PM / 9 years ago

LA court okays Michael Jackson movie deal

* Judge allows business deals involving Jackson estate

* Includes Columbia Pictures film, re-issued autobiography

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES, Aug 10 (Reuters) - A judge on Monday said he had approved several business deals involving Michael Jackson’s estate, including a movie from performance video shot in the King of Pop’s final days alive.

Lawyers representing the executors of Jackson’s will and attorneys for his mother, who is one of the main beneficiaries of his estate, were in a Los Angeles court to review several agreements made since Jackson died suddenly on June 25.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff said he okayed a $60 million deal allowing Columbia Pictures to make a movie using video of Jackson rehearsing for his “This Is It” concerts in London, which would have begun in July.

Similarly, Judge Beckloff said he had approved the re-issuance of the singer’s autobiography, “Moonwalk,” currently planned for October.

Lawyers spent much of Monday morning wrangling over merchandising deals still being planned and a traveling exhibition of Jackson memorabilia that concert promoter AEG Live, which had backed the London concerts, wants to mount.

Judge Beckloff wondered if he should delay proceedings and appoint lawyers for Jackson’s three minor children, who along with Katherine Jackson are the estate’s key beneficiaries.

But an attorney for AEG Live, which spent as much as $30 million preparing for the comeback concerts, argued the company needed to move quickly to take advantage of the resurgence in the singer’s popularity to help recoup its investment.

Several of the “Thriller” singer’s albums, for instance, have returned to the top of the music charts in recent weeks, whereas before his death his CD sales had languished.

“The longer we wait, the more time passes. Frankly the less interest there will be on the part of the public to come see the exhibit,” said Kathy Jorrie, an attorney for AEG Live.

The “Thriller” singer was said to be as much as $500 million in debt when he died, but the value of his estate was reported to be as high as $1 billion given his part ownership in a music catalog and his control of his own songs.

Separately, Jorrie told the judge that Katherine Jackson’s attorneys have demanded AEG Live give the estate its rehearsal video, something that AEG is not willing to do.

Also on Monday, media outlets reported that Jackson’s body has been buried at the Forest Lawn cemetery in Los Angeles, but that speculation could not be immediately confirmed.

For weeks, speculation about where his body would be laid to rest has been high as the family put off a private burial.

A Forest Lawn representative declined to comment and a spokesman for the family was not immediately available. A lawyer for Jackson’s family told Reuters outside court on Monday that he had no information about a burial.

Editing by Phil Stewart

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