One of the members of the Facebook for this blog posted this video. MJ fans, please watch. Somebody put a lot of time and energy into this and it simply blew my mind. Love it! Happy Halloween everyone and remember to keep the faith. The huge step that the Uncover Michael's Name group has attained is only the beginning. Justice for Michael Jackson.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Yetnikoff hired Mottola in 1988, replacing Al Teller who Yetnikoff perceived as a threat. "Few agreed with him. In fact, the industry was shocked by Mottola's hiring. Apart from an ability to coddle artists, Mottola seemed unqualified for the job. He had no record-company experience, no apparent administrative or executive abilities. 'Most thought Walter could have done better by opening the yellow pages of the phone book and choosing at random' says one manager. Tommy got the job because he was Walter's guy." Mottola had become Yetnikoff's sidekick years earlier and had coddled and schmoozed his way into Yetnikoff's circle; to the point where Yetnikoff felt that Mottola was indispensable.
Within two years of hiring Mottola, several issues hit Walter Yetnikoff at practically the same time. The first was that Yetnikoff realized that he had a drug and alcohol problem and entered rehab for a period of months. Mottola wasted no time wheeling and dealing and essentially replacing Yetnikoff in his absence. Rumors started swirling that Yetnikoff was either leaving of his own accord or he was being let go. Even after his stint in rehab, Yetnikoff's behavior was erratic and was alienating clients. In early 1990, Sony renegotiated contracts for Mottola at $2 million a year, and with Yetnikoff for $30 million, however the agreement allowed for Yetnikoff to find a successor and bow out gracefully. Executives at Sony at the time state that Mottola met with other elite from Sony, and phoned Michael Schulof (CEO Sony) stating that Yetnikoff was out of control, and gave Schulof an ultimatum. Mottola threatened Schulof that either Yetnikoff left, or Mottola and his team would leave Sony. What is so important here is not that Yetnikoff had a drug/alcohol problem or that he was alienating clients. The point here is that Mottola was virtually unknown in the business, yet hired by Yetnikoff. However, as soon as Yetnikoff was vulnerable, Mottola hit him in the worst possible way. Mottola had no loyalty to the man who "made" him, which was clearly how he did business with everyone.
In addition to Mottola's betrayal, the book "Hit Men" by Frederick Dannen hit book stores. Dannen's book trails the history of payola in the music industry. Dannen claims that a group of very powerful men called "The Network" who were paid by the large music corporations to buy airtime on radio stations with cash, cocaine, women and gifts. Dannen stated that Yetnikoff was fully aware of and utilized "The Network". "At first, executives like Yetnikoff welcomed the new cartel: For a fee, the independent contractors in the Network would help companies like CBS Records "buy market share" through uninhibited promotion, meanwhile insulating the companies themselves from criminal liability. Not all the indie promoters were corrupt; but some of the most powerful, as Dannen shows, used the time-honored ploys of payola, plying the radio station program directors with cash, cocaine, gifts and girls in an effort to ensure airplay and stimulate sales." Dannen's book held a profound negative image over Yetnikoff and helped his downfall at Sony. However, Mottola did nothing to help his mentor with the allegations from Dannen's book. "Yetnikoff didn't see an advance copy of the book until a month before publication. But sources say (Alan) Grubman and Mottola sent a copy to (the president of Sony) in an attempt to discredit Yetnikoff."
Lynton Guest's book The Trials of Michael Jackson states that Michael Jackson backed Tommy Mottola in his quest to oust Yetnikoff and promote Mottola into Yetnikoff's position. "Since signing a famous, ten to fifteen year, so-called $1 billion contract in 1991, (Jackson) had become ever more disillusioned with his relationship with his record label. That deal came hard on the heels of Tommy Mottola convincing Michael Jackson to support him in his battle to take over the job of his then boss, Walter Yetnikoff, as head of the US record label. It was Jackson's support for Mottola that swayed Sony's Japan leadership in their decision to take Mottola's side over Yetnikoff's. Michael Jackson knew he was instrumental in Mottola's promotion." (pp. 50-1)
According to Guest, the Japanese executives at Sony, primarily Ogha, wanted to distance themselves from Jackson after the 1993 allegations. Ogha felt that there was a cloud of shame cast on Sony by being associated with Jackson, however they wanted ownership of the Sony catalog, so Sony baited Michael Jackson into loans backed by Sony that they knew would be impossible for Jackson to pay. Since I have not done serious research on this aspect of Jackson, I will reserve my opinion for a later blog. However, I will say this. Guest makes an incredibly fact-based case for Sony's tumultous relationship with Jackson. It certainly looks credible to me, however as I have said, I have not done enough research to form a solid opinion. Any Jackson fan who has not read Guest's book (full length book is provided in link above) should do so. Highly recommended and informative.
Most fans know of the public dispute between Mottola and Jackson. Jackson felt his album Invincible had not been promoted. He also felt that Mottola had spent so much time courting his new protege and later bride Mariah Carey, that he virtually ignored Jackson. Jackson also felt that the promotion of Invincible had been sabotaged by Mottola and therefore by Sony. I won't bore you with links to this information mainly because the general concensus regarding Sony at this point in time is virtually solidified by Jackson fans. It might be, perhaps one of the very few points, that the majority of Jackson fans agree on. Sony screwed Michael Jackson at this point, even though Jackson's influence and popularity MADE Sony. How quickly Sony executives forgot that the primary reason they bought CBS Records in the first place was because Jackson was on the label.
The point of this blog was to show the disloyalty that Michael Jackson endured while at the height of his career. Indeed, the pinnacle of Jackson's career was probably the Thriller era, however HIStory still sold an amazing 15 million albums, a feat that was low by Jackson's standards, yet high by anyone else's. Not only was Geffen whispering in Jackson's ear to fire John Branca and Frank DiLeo, Jackson's longtime manager and attorney, but Geffen was doing this not for Jackson's benefit, but for his own. Jackson subsequently had attorneys like Bert Fields misspeaking in court stating that a criminal indictment was imminent at his civil trial in 1993, when nothing could have been further from the truth. While Jackson sided with Mottola over Yetnikoff due to Yetnikoff's outrageous and inappropriate behavior as the head of Sony, Mottola turns on Jackson and fails to promote Invincible in an effort to distance himself and Sony.
Michael Jackson led an incredible life and had millions of fans worldwide. And somehow, it would seem that any given fan would have treated Jackson with more loyalty and humanity than any music industry executive ever did in his lifetime.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
According to the New York Times, as president of CBS Records, Yetnikoff took over and in the years to come, "annual revenue grew from $485 million to well over $2 billion." (New York Magazine helps to clarify stating that $485 million was made in annual revenue in 1975, while in 1990, annual revenue was $2 billion.) Yetnikoff replaced Clive Davis at CBS Records to become its president. Although Yetnikoff lacked the flashy image of Davis, to say Yetnikoff was a character is an understatement. In a brilliant piece by NYM's Eric Pooley (previous source) states that once he settled in as CBS' president, Yetnikoff declared war "on rival Warner Music Group. In what became known as 'Walter's war'--he passed out combat boots to his sales team, printed up signs that read F--- Warner, he lured stars like James Taylor (and later the Rolling Stones) from his rival and made himself a Patton-like persona." A few months later, Yetnikoff, still in a war with Warner (but this time over the acquisition of Columbia Pictures), refused to allow Courtney Ross of Warner to use Michael Jackson's songs in a documentary she was making about Quincy Jones' life.
The ties between Walter Yetnikoff, David Geffen, Alan Grubman go back further than Sony's acquisition of CBS Records in 1988. Yetnikoff hired attorney Alan Grubman in the early days at CBS Records. By the time Sony bought CBS Records, Yetnikoff and Grubman were "adversaries across the negotiating table but also allies in a synergy of schmooze that launched big money deals and made them both rich. Grubman's firm represented one third of the artists on Yetnikoff's pop roster ..." However, a decade after Yetnikoff hired the virtually unknown attorney, Grubman had made fixed ties of his own, and was now working for Yetnikoff's arch enemy, David Geffen. (Below: Yetnikoff and Jackson)
Geffen and Yetnikoff hadn't always disliked each other. They had been friends and business associates for years, but "they always feuded. They'd be screaming one day and dealing the next. But this time was different. The feud didn't go away. Yetnikoff had apparently "said he wanted a girlfriend to take lessons from Geffen in the performance of a certain sex act; in exchange he'd buy Geffen Records for $1 billion in Sony stock." (Geffen is openly gay.) Many people repeated what Yetnikoff said to Geffen, who was not pleased. And so the war began. A few months later, Geffen said "Michael Jackson asked him to include an unreleased Jackson song--a cover version of John Lennon's 'Come Together'--on Geffen Records soundtrack for the Tom Cruise race-car movie, Days of Thunder. Yetnikoff refused to allow it....It was a small matter, but Geffen's friends said it enraged him all the same. If Geffen couldn't get Jackson's song, maybe he could get Jackson himself--or at the very least, make a move to do so and wreak havoc for Walter."
Apparently, Michael Jackson was not as impressed with Yetnikoff as he was with Geffen. Geffen sold his record company to MCA for $550 million in 1990; a deal that was extremely lucrative for Geffen, to say the very least. Geffen sat on Jackson's board of directors for 10 years. Jackson was thoroughly awe-struck with Geffen's sale of his record company. With Geffen's sale, Yetnikoff ordered Allen Grubman to sever ties with Geffen, which Grubman snuffed at. Sources say Geffen proceeded ahead by exploring "the idea of breaking Jackson's CBS contract. To that end, they say, he had Jackson fire his longtime lawyer--John Branca--an ally of Yetnikoff's--and replace him with Geffen's litigator, Bert Fields. (Jackson had already fired another Yetnikoff ally, Frank DiLeo, and replaced him with a Geffen crony.) Jackson seemed under Geffen's control, but Geffen denies having a hand in this..." Geffen claims it was Michael who wanted to leave Branca, because Branca was too close to Yetnikoff. Michael responded to the corporate chaos by fulfilling his contract, but only after it was renegotiated by none other than Grubman, to which Yetnikoff threw a tantrum. (Below: David Geffen)
Allen Grubman and Bert Fields were the attorneys who replaced John Branca. Allen Grubman negotiated the $30 million deal for Michael Jackson from Sony. Tommy Mottola would later claim that "Allen Grubman is my best friend in the world." Guilty by association? No. Yet, Billy Joel sued Grubman in 1992 for breach of contract, fraud and conflict of interest. Joel ultimately withdrew his suit. Can we say OUT OF COURT SETTLEMENT??
Then there's Bert Fields. This is the same Harvard educated, extremely experienced attorney who misspoke in open court during the '93 civil trial. "In arguments before Los Angeles Superior Court....Team Jackson argued hard for all civil proceedings to be set aside until the criminal case was settled. As if to hammer home the urgency of their request, Bert Fields rose to make an ill-advised comment in open court. 'Your honor, you've got a district attorney sitting up in Santa Barbara probably about to indict...You can't too get much closer to an indictment than to have a grand jury sitting there....' A few days later headlines made national news everywhere like the New York Post headline Superstar About to Be Indicted on Kid Sex Charges. Fields was subsequently fired and replaced with Johnny Cochran, who was co-counsel with Howard Weitzman.
Does this logo look familiar? Think Neverland.
In 1996, David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg founded Dreamworks Studios. The dreamworks logo had been at Neverland Ranch since 1988, six years prior to the founding of the Geffen/Spielberg/Katzenberg studio. Michael, Katherine and Jermaine have all been quoted as saying that the original idea for Dreamworks was Michael Jackson's and that the idea and the logo were stolen by Geffen et al.
MJ fans, this is the kind of environment that Michael Jackson had to endure, especially when he entered into business with Sony. And as bad as this is, it only gets worse when we add Tommy Mottola to the picture. Stay tuned: Enter stage wrong: Thomas Mottola.