As artists and activists start to take sides in Michael Jackson's ongoing
battle with Sony, the singer's family has stepped into the fray with
none-too-subtle threats to sue for libel.
Speaking for the Jackson family, Jermaine Jackson released a statement late
Tuesday chiding those who've defended Tommy Mottola, chairman of Sony Music,
and reprimanding comedians for ripping Jackson apart in their acts (see
Calling Tommy Mottola A Racist").
"Industry types, such as Russell Simmons and Ricky Martin ... [are]
uninformed and should wait to hear the facts before making derisive
statements about Michael," the statement read. "Comedians Dennis Miller and
Robin Williams and others who bad-mouth and make comedic references to the
scandalous [child molestation] allegations that he faced several years [ago]
need to be reminded that not only was Michael not convicted of any crime, he
was never charged nor was he ever indicted. Any statements to the contrary
are libelous and subject to legal action."
In defending Mottola, Martin a Sony artist told the New
York Post on Sunday that he didn't think Jackson's accusation that
Mottola is a racist had any foundation, but Martin didn't say anything more
about Jackson other than, "I've met Michael a few times, and I wish him the
best. But I had no idea why he said that."
Simmons had also talked to the Post to defend Mottola and has
questioned the validity of Jackson's claim that Invincible didn't
sell because of lack of promotion on Sony's part. "There are two things I
know," he told the Post. "Tommy Mottola is not a racist, and in black
music, especially, you don't need $30 million to make an album successful.
If it's a hit record, it'll stick on its own."
Williams joked about Jackson during a New York standup performance televised
on HBO on Sunday. Referring to Jackson's charge of racism against Sony,
Williams said, "You've got to pick a race first."
"My brother is black," Jermaine Jackson responded in the statement. "No one
has the right to question his race."
Calling for an audit of Sony's books, the Jackson family accused the label
of inflating the figures it says it spent making and promoting
Invincible ($30 million to make the record, $25 million to promote).
The statement also alleged that Michael has been cheated out of royalty
"We believe that the amount of record sales attributed to Michael is
underestimated," the statement read. "We believe that the financial records
are inflated and not accurate. There are numerous artists who are deceived
by record companies who overwhelm them with lawyers, accountants,
publicists, double talk, false practices and shady business dealings."
The family also took aim at people within Michael's own camp.
"The people that he has working for him, where are they?" the statement
reads. "Why won't they stand up for him? Their non-support is eerily similar
to when Michael faced molestation allegations. None in his camp stood up for
him. His family was left to take the fight to the media to refute the
terrible allegations against him. ... I hope that Michael now understands
that he must rid himself of those who only want to reap the benefits of
being associated with Michael Jackson yet does nothing for him."
Sony had no response to the family's statement on Wednesday, but the label
previously addressed Michael's complaints by saying: "Sony Music spared no
expense in creating and executing a series of global marketing, promotion
and publicity campaigns in support of the album. We are proud of what we
have accomplished with Invincible."