In his current battle against Sony over what he calls the label’s under-promoting of his ”Invincible” CD, Michael Jackson has called his label chief Tommy Mottola a racist and the devil. Now he may be calling him to the witness stand. ”We’re definitely considering a lawsuit,” Jackson lawyer Marty Singer told Reuters yesterday.
”We’ve asserted claims against Sony. These are claims for breach of an agreement and fiduciary duties. We have Enron-like accounting claims concerning the under-reporting of revenues to Michael Jackson as well as other alleged improper accounting practices,” Singer said, resulting in claims that ”could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Specifically, Singer said, Jackson is miffed that Mottola didn’t return the star’s phone calls for four months during the marketing of the album last year, and that Sony failed to air a commercial for the album during Jackson’s televised concert special last fall. Jackson’s bitterness toward Mottola aside, Singer said, ”this is not a personal dispute. This is a legal dispute. It’s a business relationship. Jackson’s records have generated over a billion dollars of revenue for Sony.”
Singer acknowledged that, beyond claims regarding Jackson’s record contract, a major issue is ownership of Sony/ATV, the music publishing company that is co-owned by Jackson and Sony, and which controls the rights to hundreds of thousands of classic pop and country songs. Both sides would like to own it outright and appear to be using the dispute over ”Invincible” as leverage.
Sony didn’t comment on Singer’s assertions, but it has issued statements in the past few weeks saying that it did all it could (spending a reported $25 million) to promote ”Invincible,” which sold only 2 million copies in the U.S. and some 5 million worldwide.