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Judge approves Michael Jackson merchandising deal

The agreement is expected to deliver $15 million to the pop icon's estate. A hearing is set for Friday on a proposed deal for a three-city tour of memorabilia.

August 18, 2009|Harriet Ryan

A judge Monday approved a merchandising agreement expected to deliver $15 million to Michael Jackson's estate but postponed a ruling on a deal for a three-city tour of memorabilia because of objections by the pop icon's mother.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff set a Friday hearing to allow Katherine Jackson's attorneys to call witnesses and present evidence highlighting what they say are weaknesses in the proposed deal between the singer's estate and concert promoter AEG Live.

Lawyers for the matriarch are unhappy that AEG and the estate will split profit from the tour 50-50 and contend that temporary administrators John Branca and John McClain should have sought other bids.

An AEG attorney said that if the deal was not approved this week the company would be forced to walk away, because it would not have time to build exhibits to coincide with the October release of a film cut from Michael Jackson's final concert rehearsals. That cancellation would cost the estate $5 million to $6 million, said Howard Weitzman, a lawyer for Branca and McClain.

Beckloff said he would allow the administrators to sign the AEG contract, but the judge said he could not make a legal finding that the deal was in the best interest of the estate without an evidentiary hearing.

The deal that Beckloff did sign off on gives Bravado International Group Merchandising Services the right to market Jackson-branded books, trading cards, online games and denim apparel and to prevent counterfeiting of the singer's name and likeness.

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harriet.ryan@latimes.com

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