John Branca finally talks about Michael Jackson: 'It'll all be clear within 48 hours'

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John Branca finally talks about Michael Jackson: 'It'll all be clear within 48 hours'

Tue Jun 30, 2009 @ 09:57AM PST

By Eriq Gardner


Branca,john Yesterday, TMZ reported that music attorney John Branca of the Ziffren Brittenham firm was re-hired by Michael Jackson three weeks ago and that he has a copy of the late singer's will. But court papers filed yesterday by Michael Jackson's mother say the family hasn't been able to locate any will.

So who's right? We spoke to Branca today, and from his first interview on the subject we can confirm that Branca has been appointed as co-executor of the Jackson estate and that an announcement about the will is forthcoming.

Branca called us today in connection with our annual Power Lawyers issue (spoiler alert: Branca's on the list), and we got to talking about his involvement in the Michael Jackson situation. Branca says he was re-hired by Michael himself two weeks ago in preparation for the singer's planned comeback tour. The two go way back, having worked together during Michael's heyday in the 80's and 90's. Branca is often credited with negotiating for Jackson one of the most lucrative recording contracts in history and advising him to purchase the Beatles music publishing catalog. Jackson was even the best man at Branca's first wedding, but they parted ways a few years ago.

So what did he and Michael talk about? "We discussed how to exploit his valuable brand and the upcoming concert," says Branca.

Branca was as shocked as anyone to hear the news last week that Michael had been rushed to the hospital. Now, as co-executor of the estate, Branca will be handling the music publishing agreements that will earn the estate significant revenues over the coming years. This is the lawyer's specialty. Last year, for example, Branca represented the Rodgers & Hammerstein Org in a $250 million sale of the rights to hit broadway musicals.

When asked about the will, Branca let this tidbit fly:

"The will hasn't been filed yet," he said.

Would Branca confirm the existence of the much talked-about Michael Jackson will? THR's Roger Friedman has been reporting for days that Jackson drafted a will in 2002, dividing his estate among his mother, three children, and charities (but not his father), and that the will should be filed in Los Angeles Superior Court as soon as Thursday.

"It'll all be clear within 48 hours," he responded. "Much more will be revealed soon." 

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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