By Andrew Dalton, AP, Associated Press | Michael Jackson’s musical legacy never left, but a kind of comeback is coming. With a series of court victories that bring the end to serious legal crises, with a Broadway show beginning and a Cirque du Soleil show returning after a long pandemic pause, the Jackson business is on the upswing 12 years after the pop superstar’s death.
Very recently, things looked grim. The 2019 HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland” raised child molestation allegations anew. The once‑dead lawsuits brought by the two men featured in it had been revived by changes in the law. And a decision in the estate’s appeal of a $700 million tax bill was taking years to arrive.
“I was always optimistic,” John Branca, the entertainment attorney who worked with Jackson through many of his biggest triumphs and now serves as co‑executor of his estate, told The Associated Press in an interview at his Beverly Hills home. “Michael inspired the planet and his music still does. There was never any doubt about that.”
The optimism was warranted. A succession of court decisions came. One accusers’ lawsuit was dismissed in October. The other was tossed out in April. In May, a ruling in the tax case slashed the bill dramatically. The estate suddenly stands nearly clear of a dozen years of disputes. That means Branca expects that in the next 18 months it can finally be taken out of probate court and turned into a trust for Jackson’s three children, who are all now adults.
And the focus of the estate can now shift back to presenting Jackson to the world.
The first priority is the revival of the Cirque du Soleil show, “Michael Jackson: One” at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. It is slated to reopen Aug. 19 after a coronavirus closure of nearly a year and a half, in time for a major celebration there planned for Jackson’s Aug. 29 birthday.
The Broadway show, “MJ: The Musical,” will follow quickly on its heels, the first of several planned projects.
Branca said the delay of well over a year, as happened for all of Broadway, was “frustrating” but he has renewed excitement about “MJ: The Musical” and shared new details.
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“Kanye West, Drake, Beyoncé, Usher, Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande — they all point back to Michael,” Branca said. “His influence is really enormous.”
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton
All contents copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.[Thank you to Alex Teitz, http://www.femmusic.com, for contributing this article.]