Jackson Associate Testifies At Trial
Michael Jackson tried to fire the man he hired to produce a benefit recording for victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks after learning the associate once directed gay porn movies, according to the entMichael Jackson tried to fire the man he hired to produce a benefit recording for victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks after learning the associate once directed gay porn movies, according to the entertainer's former lawyer.
Zia Modabber testified yesterday (July 10) that he broke the news to Jackson about F. Marc Schaffel's background, showing him a video of Schaffel at an adult film shoot. "I think he didn't want to believe it was real or true," said Modabber. "He appeared angry, upset."
Jackson called Schaffel and told him he was off the charity project, said Schaffel, who also took the stand yesterday. Jackson is being sued by Schaffel for $3.8 million for what Schaffel says are unrepaid loans and expenses, and unpaid salary for work on the charity record, "What More Can I Give."
Modabber's testimony was elicited as Jackson's side sought to show Schaffel enriched himself at the entertainer's expense. Modabber was permitted to testify on limited subjects after invoking attorney-client privilege.
He identified a stack of letters that moved between him and Schaffel's lawyer after Schaffel was notified that he was being terminated by Jackson.
"My focus was on doing what I could to get the rights to release the single," Modabber said of the song, which was being held up because Schaffel claimed rights to it. "I got involved with trying to clean up that mess."
Modabber's letters continually warned that Schaffel "has no rights to exploit, distribute or in any way pledge any interest in the master recording of 'What More Can I Give.'"
But he said that Schaffel went ahead and at one point collected $900,000 from the company Music Fighters. He said the company essentially received nothing.
In a videotaped deposition shown earlier in the trial, Jackson unequivocally stated that he was the composer of the song and the rights belong to him.
With Modabber still on the witness stand, Schaffel's lawyer, Howard King, attempted to show that Jackson intended for Schaffel to have rights to the record.
Modabber said he was aware that in 2003 Jackson began working on something with Schaffel again, and he protested, saying, "We should not be doing business with Mr. Schaffel." Asked how Jackson's people responded, the witness said, "I was told they were handling it."
Earlier, Jackson's attorney questioned Schaffel about his rush to issue 18 backdated checks totaling $784,000 in the days after being fired by the pop star.
Showing Schaffel one of the checks, Thomas Mundell said, "And you dated it November 14 because you knew if you dated it after that you would run into problems because of the termination?"
"Yes," said Schaffel.
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