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Producer Sells the Rights to Jackson Project

July 17, 2002|CHUCK PHILIPS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The executive producer of Michael Jackson's aborted "What More Can I Give" single sold the rights to the charity project for $1 million to a Japanese company and kept half of it for himself.

The transaction was negotiated quietly in February between F. Marc Schaffel and Tokyo-based Music Fighters Corp., just three months after Jackson's advisors fired Schaffel when they learned that he was tied to the gay pornography business.

On Tuesday, representatives for Jackson, Schaffel and Music Fighters confirmed the sale, which included a provision under which Schaffel was paid a $500,000 fee.

The deal is the latest twist in the bizarre tale of the troubled charity project, which was recorded last fall to benefit victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and included performances by Jackson and two dozen other stars.

Jackson signed over the song rights to Schaffel last summer without notifying his manager or attorney. In November, Jackson's advisors severed all ties with the producer. And Jackson's representatives lobbied Sony Music to refuse permission for its stars to appear on the single.

But Schaffel then cut a $1-million deal under which the Japanese company agreed to pay more than $400,000 in bills to vendors associated with the charity project.

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