debbie rowe 227x300 Debbie Rowe Wants Her Kids, Retains Legal RightsDebbie Rowe, the mother of Michael Jackson’s two eldest children, wants her kids. She retains legal rights as a parent through a 2006 court order. Her lawyer, Eric George, has sent a letter to the New York Post demanding a retraction for a story they ran today claiming that she would sell the kids to the Jackson family for millions.

Debbie had better get her retraction. I am going to tell you something now I did not write before. In the moments that the world discovered Michael Jackson had had a heart attack and might be dead, Debbie — whom I’ve known for many years — called me. She was crying so loudly I could barely make out what she said. She did say, first, before anything else, “I’ve got to get my kids.”

Rowe never “sold” her kids to anyone. As she said to me a few days after Michael died: “I lost my best friend.” She was heartbroken over Michael’s death. Debbie is not a public person. She is extremely private. I cringe when I see her in that video clip, screaming at the paparazzi who stuck a camera in her face. When challenged, Debbie will fight back. She had every right to confront that idiot with the camera. He was in her face.

For years Debbie and Michael had a very satisfactory arrangement. Then, in February 2003, Martin Bashir’s “Living With Michael Jackson” aired on ABC. It depicted Michael as a child abuser who let young boys sleep in his bed. Debbie went into action mode. She volunteered to be interviewed for a TV special so she could praise Michael as a father. The show aired, and did Jackson a lot of good. The reality: He never spoke to her, or thanked her. She wasn’t paid. She did it for the father of her children.

A few months later, Debbie gave another TV interview, this time about her horse ranch. Jackson, feeling his usual cash flow pinch, responded through lawyers. He claimed that Rowe had violated her confidentiality agreement. He cut off her monthly alimony payments.

That’s when things went from bad to worse. The Nation of Islam, known for being viciously anti-Semitic, had moved into Michael’s life. Debbie, already in a court fight with Michael, now worried that her kids were in danger. When she was married to her first husband, Richard Edelman, she’d converted to Judaism. She thought of Prince and Paris as half-Jewish. The issue was added to her court situation.

On top of these things, Debbie felt that at no time from Michael’s arrest in November 2003 until his exoneration in June 2005 that she was included in what was going on with her kids or Michael. She testified for him at the trial in April 2005. Her testimony was considered a turning point in getting Michael acquitted. He never even thanked her.

Eventually, Debbie’s alimony was restored. She saw her kids in the summer of 2005 but was limited to telling them she was a friend. Michael Jackson would not let her reveal she was their mother. Then the kids were whisked off to Bahrain, Ireland, France and Las Vegas. Debbie went back to her life as horse rancher. She lived by all their agreements. But when Michael died three weeks ago, she saw red. She knew what his life had been like with Joseph Jackson. And still, as I reported here, she wanted to wait to do anything until Michael was buried.

But Michael Jackson has never been buried. His greedy family continues to bicker over how to profit off the location of his final resting place. In the meantime, Joseph Jackson has told interviewers — for money, no less — that he plans to create an act with the kids. He wants to exploit Michael’s children since Michael — who hated him — is gone and and cannot be abused by his father again. The Jackson side is planting stories that Debbie will accept more money in exchange for her parental rights and custody.

Here’s the reality: Debbie Rowe gave birth to those kids. She’s 50, not 80. She can easily afford to raise them. She is the biological mother. They look like her. If she wants them, a California court will likely give them to her. The more she’s provoked by hurtful, inaccurate gossip, the more likely she will go for something more than visitation. She should. She and Michael, she told me, had a clear understanding of how the kids should be raised.

The New York Post, the British tabloids and other outlets had better get this thing straight in their heads and calm down. Debbie Rowe is not going to stand for this anymore.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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