Home Celebrity Michael Jackson: Correcting the New, and Not Very Good, Book About the...

Part 2: Randall Sullivan is just overwhelmed by his material, but gets lots of stuff wrong in his new book about Michael Jackson, called “Untouchable.” The book is panned by Michiko Kakutani in today’s New York Times.

For example, Jackson hosted a Christmas in Bahrain for friends from the U.S. (which I reported exclusively at the time). Sullivan says Michael was thrilled when “Frank Cascio and his family” arrived. Wrong. Frank Cascio never went to Bahrain. He even said so in his book this year. Michael didn’t see Frank Cascio from some time before he was arrested in November 2003 until Jackson arrived at the Cascios’ home in New Jersey (which I also reported exclusively) in August 2007.

Sullivan’s main problem is that he wasn’t there for any of it, but tried to cash in on Michael Jackson once he died. Imagine someone writing a biography of Batman and only interviewing the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, and the Joker. The writer fails to speak to Robin, Alfred or Commissioner Gordon.

Sullivan’s sources are a rogues’ gallery of adversaries: Tohme, Raymone Bain, Brian Oxman, Ray Chandler (brother of Evan, uncle of Jordie), Raymone Bain, etc. Former lawyer Oxman was disbarred on July 6, 2012, which Sullivan only mentions as an aside late in his book. He needed him as a legit source.

Tohme wormed his way into Jackson’s life, and had to be excised in the final months by people who actually cared about Jackson. Apparently, Sullivan and Tohme became quite close. According to his alarming notes in the book:

“At the time, I was trying to help Tohme settle his differences with both the Jackson family and the Michael Jackson estate (and, of course, collect whatever useful information might surface in the process).”

Conflicts of interest abound:  buried deep in the book is this revelation: Sullivan introduced Katherine Jackson to her new lawyer, Perry Sanders, who was also Sullivan’s friend. Then Sullivan turned around and used Sanders and his associate Sandy Ribera as sources. Sullivan even admits he gave Ribera a first draft of the book to comment on. What is going on here?

As for Tohme: I’ve never met him, but for a time I listened to his prevarications on the phone. These included that he was a doctor of some kind, and a special ambassador to Senegal. He conceded to me that he was actually not a licensed physician finally. He held on to the ambassador story.

I received this email on March 23, 2009 from the Senegal embassy in Washington DC:

Mansour,

Senegal has no Ambassador at large in that name. the Ambassadors at large
are senegalese citizen. It is possible to have alien as ambassador for a
specific reason, fight for women freedom, goodwill ambassador etc..
But I don’t know this Mr. Tohme.

Fatoumata B. NDAO
Counselor
Health, Environment & Education
Embassy of Senegal

Sullivan doesn’t like this piece of information. He says in his notes that I “found someone” with the Embassy who didn’t know Tohme. He says he’s seen Tohme’s Senegalese passport, with the words ‘special ambassador’ written in by the country’s dictator, er, president for life. Well, I have the email chain from the embassy. And unless Sullivan can i.d. the handwriting of the president, I think there’s a problem.

“Untouchable” is full of assumptions. And to get away with it, Sullivan admits to them in the back of his book. He writes: “I acknowledge that the long plastic surgery section in this chapter could be described as interpretive, perhaps even as opinionated. It was the result of nearly three years of research and dozens of conversations with people who knew MJ. The point of view is my own, but it’s an informed point of view.” Huh? He wrote a 700 page book but doesn’t have the facts. His informed point of view, plus 3 bucks, will get you a copy of the National Enquirer.

I do take particular exception with Sullivan’s intent to throw Michael’s long time friend and manager, the late Frank DiLeo, under the bus so to speak. DiLeo was a complex man, certainly. But he loved Michael and vice versa. Early on Frank was cheated out of millions that he could have made from Thriller and Bad.

After he and Michael split, Frank’s life was full of financial difficulties. As others grew rich from his projects, he struggled. Now Sullivan, taking Tohme’s side, thinks he can paint DiLeo as a villain to Tohme’s hero. I won’t allow it. Frank knew a charlatan when he saw one, and he disliked Tohme from the start. Now Tohme gets to exact his revenge against a dead man– and Sullivan is only too happy to help in exchange for his “exclusive” interview.

Also wrong, wrong, wrong: Frank DiLeo had open heart surgery at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles on March 21, 2011. He did not “check into a hospital in Pittsburgh.” Frank languished in coma at Cedars Sinai for three months until he was moved to a facility in Pittsburgh.

And there’s more that Sullivan gets wrong, like how the story broke that Jackson and his kids stayed in New Jersey in the summer and fall of 2007–there’s the story: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,312120,00.html. What Sullivan has done is  chop up a lot of pieces he’s found in research, mash them together and put them in a blender on high speed.  The result is something that tastes and smells bad.

9 replies to this post
  1. Like Corlista, I have read many books and articles about Michael Jackson both before and after his sad passing, and also listened to many of his interviews given to “journalists” over the years. Having formed my own opinion, I am just plain disgusted by Sullivan’s lies and distortions. By his own admission, in addition to the list of ne’er do wells cited here, he has used several bloggers, some good, some not so good. Sullivan never met Michael Jackson. I agree with Mr. Friedman when he says he will not allow Sullivan to denigrate Frank DiLeo and his relationship with Michael. They loved and respected one another. The fact that Sullivan chooses to believe Tohme speaks volumes. Tohme is being sued by the Estate for fraud regarding his dealings with Michael Jackson. Per court order, Tohme has just another few days to produce an “accounting”. Marc Schaffel sued Michael during the trial, for God’s sake, at his most fragile and vulnerable time. It’s a crying shame that major outlets have given this man Sullivan a bully pulpit the past few days to promote this tome, which is just more cut and paste tabloid trash; if you have a Kindle, download the lengthy sample for a taste of this fabricated, overblown fiction.

  2. this time Mr Friedman i think you did an amazing job.
    On huffpostlive they mentioned the part of this article, regarding Frank Cascio, and Sullivan, tried to avoid the fact that he was not correct into the book, and said more or less that the rest of the Cascios where there.

  3. This crap should be illegal, the man never was a freind of Michael’s & has no right or proof of his statements. Don’t buy this book. It’s lies,lies,lies. Just what Michael lived with his whole life. DON’T BELIEVE HIM.

  4. I agree with Corlista. I have also read countless articles, books, magazines, blogs, etc. since the King passed. I am so angry that someone would put out such cut and paste garbage… If Randall Sullivan really believes that Tohme and that other scumbag Bashir are reliable, decent people, he is sorely mistaken. Those two made Michael’s life a living nightmare, especially that Bashir. I couldn’t wait to buy this book at first, but I will not be buying it at all! How dare Sullivan bad mouth Frank Dileo. Along with Bill Bray, Frank was a wonderful, loving man who cared only about Michael’s well-being. I will believe nothing negative said about those two, because they both had genuine love and affection for Michael. Sullivan needs to realize that Michael’s fans are strong, and, informed about certain aspects of Michael’s life. So say what you want Sullivan, we already know whats true about our hero Michael. Also Sullivan, please remember, Michael does have children who might one day see your crap!

  5. Untouchable is a poorly researched cut and paste hacket job, written by a gossip mongering muckracker for profit. I give it 1 out of 10 (some of the photos were nice, even though I have seen them before), otherwise I would avoid this like the plague.

    On a side note, Roger if you want to read a extensively researched fair and balanced biography about Bruce Springsteen I highly recommend Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin. Its brilliant from start to finish, 10 out of 10!

  6. Mr Friedman, there are many times you make me so angry I want to throw rocks at my laptop but in this article, I applaud you! I have read over 40 books about Michael Jackson and countless magazine articles, blogs, and “investigative reports.” However, this time, I totally agree with you on the Cascio visit (Frank was not there!), Tohme (total bottom feeder), Chandler (don’t even go there), Bain (consummate manipulator) and more. I loved Frank Dileo and have always felt he and Michael loved and respected each other though many have tried to denigrate Frank. He stood by Michael when many did not. You did surprise me though with your assertions re Sanders and Ribera. If true, how frightening that Katherine trusts these people when they sold out her own son. I wish you would elaborate though on how and why Frank was “cheated out of millions.” I am well aware that Michael had his faults and frailties but what a tragedy that his life was haunted by a never ending search to find sanctuary in people that ended up betraying him. Sullivan’s book is a testimony to them and countless more who surrounded Michael with their hands out.

  7. Randell Sullivan’s book is nothing but lies about Michael Jackson. Do not waste your money. The truth will be known. He’s done this for his own personal gain. It’s a disgrace.

What do you think?