By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Schaffel's attorney, Tom Byrne, was asked if it was possible, over the multiyear friendship between the porn director and the pop star, for Jackson not to know what his friend was doing for a living.
"I'm just not prepared to address that issue," Byrne said.
Meanwhile, Jackson has threatened other legal action that didn't make the papers. Joe Becker, after complaining about losing the $120,000 in the "What More Can I Give?" fiasco, now finds himself in the Gloved One's crosshairs.
Becker continues to carp about the way he was treated by Schaffel and Neverland Valley Entertainment, and in January he wrote to Jackson attorney Langford that the entire project had seemed like a "scam" perpetrated by Schaffel "and perhaps Jackson himself."
That e-mail recently prompted a response from another Jackson attorney, Zia Modabber, who accused Becker of trying to extort the singer with "obnoxious e-mails threatening to disseminate false and defamatory statements in the hope of extorting a payment." Modabber ominously puts Becker on notice that "we will hold you accountable to the full extent permitted by law."
Becker says he's stunned. "Naturally," he says disgustedly, "investigating the guilty parties has ended up in the prosecution of the innocent." He's mulling over legal action against Schaffel and Jackson to get his money back.
Rob Gordon, president of a company called ID Medical, says his firm is attempting to buy the song from Schaffel. He anticipates an announcement soon about the transfer of ownership, but whether the song is actually released, and when, will depend on the wishes of Jackson.
Acknowledging that it's too late to release the single as a tribute for 9/11 victims ("There isn't as much zeal now"), he says he hopes it can be used to benefit various children's organizations.
Becker says he'll believe Gordon's claims when he sees a check for the money he's owed.