Thursday, June 13, 2024

Michael Jackson Stinc: Pop Star Was Terrible at Business, Always in Debt


“Michael Jackson Inc” by Zach O’Malley Greenburg hits stores tomorrow. It’s a clip job, with 25 pages of single spaced footnotes. Greenburg, a Forbes writer, knows how to search the internet to patch together Michael Jackson’s history, albeit severely condensed.

Michael Jackson was a very bad business man, with little to no connection to the real world. He was duplicitous and disloyal. After “Thriller” sold 22 million copies, Jackson decided to live on that level forever. The only thing that saved him was buying the Beatles catalog, merging it with Sony Music Publishing, and leveraging the whole thing in loans from 1995 until his death in 2009.

Greenburg has taken the opposite tact. He thinks Michael was a great businessman. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he can’t build a case for it. Every step of the Jackson story is about him frittering away money, ignoring good advice, hiring goons, creeps and con men, investing in nonsense.

I’ve written extensively on this subject. Believe me, I know. Read the bodyguards’ book that just came out, called “Remember the Time.” Their anecdotes dovetail what I was writing in real time back then. And I never knew those guys.

Greenburg’s book depends on who would talk to him. Those who didn’t are omitted. So there is no mention of how financiers Al Malnik and Charles Koppelman tried to save Michael in 2001-2004, how the Nation of Islam forced them out, and so on. There is no knowledge of how that whole period of time worked and who the players were including Brett Ratner and Chris Tucker.

Greenburg has no idea of Jackson’s history with AEGLive because he listened to “Doctor” Tohme Tohme and Colony Capital’s Thomas Barrack, who spoon fed him their version. It’s all wrong in “Michael Jackson Inc.”

Oh, what could have been: just tracing the story through Jackson’s many managers and lawyers from 1989 on would have shown what a manipulator the singer was, and how business acumen was not the strong suit of a man who bought hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of trinkets in Las Vegas gift shops.

The bodyguards’ book actually does tell the story of how all these pieces came together, resulting ultimately in Michael’s death. Greenburg is clueless. He doesn’t seem to know that Jackson, after his child molestation trial, allowed Neverland and his parents’ home to go into foreclosure. All employees at both places and all their families suffered at the hands of this business “genius.”

Here’s what was really happening in 2006- 2007. Buy a clue, here:

and here:

The last couple of chapters are an ode to the Jackson executors. They may even have written this stuff and sent it over. This isn’t journalism. But it may be why Forbes has been sold to the Chinese.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
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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