Entertainment behind the scenes
Paging Michael Jackson …
Has reclusive pop star Michael Jackson managed to stave off foreclosure on his famed Neverland Valley Ranch in California? The answer, depending on who you ask, is: “Yes,” “no,” “maybe,” “sort of” or “go away and don’t call here anymore.”
The confusion began when the Associated Press ran a story on Thursday, headlined “Jackson lawyer: Neverland auction off” that said the self-appointed King of Pop had reached an 11th-hour deal to refinance the property before New York-based Fortress Investment Group foreclosed on him.
The AP story, which quickly made news around the world, was sourced to a Jackson attorney named L. Londell McMillan, who was quoted only as saying, somewhat cryptically: “Neverland and MJ are fine.”
Since then, McMillan has clammed up – refusing to even take phone calls on the matter. His assistant has referred our reporter to Jackson’s spokeswoman and by Friday morning sounded irritable, asking: “Weren’t you told yesterday to call the publicist?”
Yes, yes we were. Unfortunately, Jackson’s longtime representative, Raymone Bain, won’t take our calls either. Another publicist, who said she worked for Jackson and Sony Music, phoned to say that all information would have to come from the elusive McMillan. And a very polite spokeswoman for Fortress left a message saying simply: “We don’t comment.”
Meanwhile no documents have been filed with Santa Barbara County showing that the foreclosure had been rescinded or settled.
FOXnews.com columnist Roger Friedman, who is known for being plugged in to Jackson’s mysterious financial world, has cast doubt on the story, saying that Neverland was still in foreclosure and would be auctioned off in May.
“Michael Jackson’s reps did not, I repeat did not, make a deal with Fortress Investments,” Friedman wrote on Friday. “A premature statement Thursday by one of his lawyers was incorrect. Fortress agreed only to a two-month extension so that Jackson or someone in his camp can untangle this mess.”
Later on Friday the AP filed a second story, largely agreeing with Friedman that Jackson was still in default but that Neverland would not go on the auction block until May.
And McMillan? The AP says he ”did not a return a call for comment.”
We’re still hoping that Michael will give us a call and untangle this mess.