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"It seems particularly bizarre that he has chosen to launch an unwarranted and ugly attack on an executive who has championed his career...for many, many years,"
——Statement from Sony Music

MICHAEL JACKSON MAKES A SCENE

The Gloves Come Off in Gloved One's Dispute with Sony
“Ludicrous, spiteful and hurtful” were the words issued by Sony Music in response to Michael Jackson branding company CEO Thomas D. Mottola “mean,” “racist” and “very, very, very devilish’’ during a Saturday (7/6) press conference at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in Harlem.

"It seems particularly bizarre that he has chosen to launch an unwarranted and ugly attack on an executive who has championed his career...for many, many years," the Sony statement continued.

Jackson later traveled to Sony’s Manhattan HQ on a double-decker bus. He stood on the top deck and, raising his fists, joined the crowd in chanting, “Down with Tommy Mottola.” He was greeted by around 150 fans hoisting signs reading “Please Sony, stop killing the music,” “Terminate Tommy Mottola,” and “Invincible is Unbreakable”—referring to the title of Jackson’s most recent album, which he claims the company inadequately promoted.

Jackson held up a poster with three boxes marked “the Good,” “the Bad” and “the Ugly”—with an image of himself in the “Good” box and Mottola’s face with devil horns in the “Bad” box, while Mottola’s real image adorned the “Ugly” box.

“Today’s false statement makes it clear that Mr. Jackson’s difficulties lie elsewhere than with the marketing and promotion of Invincible,” the Sony statement alleged.

The severity of the personal attacks against Mottola generated shock throughout the industry and sent Sharpton scrambling to distance himself from Jackson.

“I have known Tommy for 15 or 20 years and have never known him to do or say anything that would be considered racist,” Sharpton told The New York Post Monday. “In fact, he’s always been supportive of the black music industry.”

But on Tuesday, Jackson was once again at Sharpton’s side as the reverend railed against the record biz.

So why has Michael Jackson lost it? Observers speculate that in exploring the ramifications of a new deal, Jackson discovered that his market value is $8-10 million per album. That’s big money—but in Jackson’s case it’s not nearly enough. It typically costs the onetime King of Pop more than that merely to make an album, with the cost of videos and marketing heaping on another $15-20 million to total per-album expenditures.

At this point, no label is willing to invest $30 million on an album that may sell 3-5 million worldwide—not unless Jackson gets his masters back and makes his back catalog part of the deal. His Sony contract calls for the reversion of his masters in eight years, not nearly soon enough for his present needs.

It appears that there’s no viable move for the aging ex-superstar to make. He’s stuck—but he’s not going down quietly.

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