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Wednesday, April 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Film Producer Sues|Michael Jackson Estate

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A late movie producer's father sued Michael Jackson's estate Thursday, claiming it's refusing to provide film for a movie about the pop star, which Jackson promised to do more than a decade ago, or share profits from a movie that used the films.

Sharad Chandra Patel, also a movie producer, is the father of Raju Patel, who died in October 2005. Raju Patel produced "Bachelor Party" (1984), "The Jungle Book" (1994) and other movies. His father claims that Jackson called Raju after seeing "The Jungle Book" and "the two men became fast friends."

In 2002, Sharad Patel says in the Superior Court complaint, his son and Jackson "executed an agreement setting forth their intention that 'all of [their] film and television productions [would] be done together,' and 'profits [would] be split 50-50 between [them].'" (Brackets in complaint.)

That agreement in included in 34 pages of exhibits and attachments to the 8-page complaint.

Their shared film company was to be called Neverland Entertainment, Patel says.

When Jackson was charged with child molestation in 2003, Sharad says, his son Raju stood by him, and decided, with Jackson, to make a film tribute to the fans "who supported him and his family through this, and other, dark periods."

"As a special gift for Michael's fans, the film would include never-before-seen home videos from Michael's personal library," the complaint states. On Feb. 11, 2005, the two men "entered into the agreement for the purpose of producing 'Messages to Michael,' a tribute to Michael and his loyal fans."

Jackson was acquitted in June 2005 after a 5-month criminal trial. Raju, meanwhile, was dying of cancer. His father claims that "due to Raju's illness and the uncertainty surrounding Michael's trial, Raju and Michael agreed that either man could nominate another person to perform under the agreement," and that Raju nominated his father.

"Sharad promised his dying son, Raju, that Sharad would fulfill Michael's and Raju's vision for 'Messages to Michael,'" the father says in the complaint.

But Jackson's hectic and well-chronicled life, including a move to Bahrain, put the film project on hold. Sharad says he and the King of Pop "reconnected in London" in March 2009, and "reaffirmed their commitment to producing 'Messages to Michael.'"

Jackson died on June 25, 2009, before he handed over the home movies.

Sharad filed a creditor's claim on April 1, 2010, involving a $60 million "minimum payment" from Sony Pictures to the Jackson estate, "plus a reported 90 percent share of film profits (as opposed to the 50-50 profit split provided in the agreement)." (Parentheses in complaint.)

Jackson's executors, defendants John Branca and John McClain, rejected the creditor's claim in the probate case.

Patel asks the court to establish the validity of his creditor's claim "in its entirety."

He is represented by Stanton Stein, with Liner LLP.

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