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Judge approves Jackson merchandising deal

August 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Los Angeles judge has approved a deal that will bring Michael Jackson merchandise to store shelves.Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff approved the deal during a court hearing Monday. Beckloff heard from attorneys for Jackson's mother, Katherine, the current administrators of Jackson's estate and a newly appointed attorney for the singer's three young children.

The merchandise agreement allows for items such as trading cards, clothing and digital goodies to be sold. The judge had delayed approval of the agreements after Katherine Jackson had raised objections to the contracts with concert promoter AEG Live and merchandiser Bravado, a company that would license and merchandise Michael Jackson products valued at about $15 million.

Those objections were withdrawn, but the lawyers raised new objections to AEG's involvement in a proposed memorabilia tour, which is still awaiting approval. Beckloff scheduled an evidentiary hearing for Friday on whether the tour is the best deal for Jackson's estate.

A coffee table book and a movie made from video of rehearsals for Jackson's "This Is It" tour have already been approved.

John Branca and John McClain, the executors of his will, told the L.A. Times that the estate would likely make $50 million a year in the coming years.

The King of Pop died owing about $400 million to his creditors.

Branca said despite the estate's substantial debt, there's a way out, and they're following the plan they created with Michael Jackson before his death, including books, movies, merchandise and the multitude of unpublished Jackson songs.

The estate will add any new music to Jackson's collection of music.

One new song will debut in the tribute movie, which is due out Halloween weekend.

"It seems to be a situation that's almost going to write itself, in that Michael Jackson now is going to have a legacy hugely in demand by the public," said Dana Cole, ABC News legal analyst.

Katherine Jackson is being included in the business deals in terms of her opinions, but she has not been named an executor or a trustee of the estate.

Katherine Jackson is trying to argue that the executors do not have Jackson's best interest at heart, but ABC News has learned the executors expect to bring $100 million into the estate by the end of the year and up to $50 million annually, making Katherine Jackson's case difficult to prove.

"It's a situation of command and control. Right now, these two executors are sort of king of the hill and they don't want too many chefs or too many cooks in a sense spoiling this particular meal," Cole said.

A hearing on the will has been scheduled for October.

In the meantime, Michael Jackson's father Joe told the New York Daily News that his son will be buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery on August 29, what would have been the pop singer's 51st birthday.

There are reports that one of the things delaying the burial is an internal Jackson family dispute. Some still want Michael to be buried at Neverland Ranch. Others wonder whether he should be buried in an unmarked grave in order to avoid any problems.

There are no other details about the funeral.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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